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Building a Strong Bond Over the Years

Our Close the Gap Spotlight highlights Barbara Sims, one of our Appointment Coordinators, and her journey working with one of the individuals at Howard House.

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Barbara Sims learned quickly that you have to work hard for what you want. It wasn’t until she moved to Minnesota though in 1996, when she discovered who she  was and her passion in life—and it all stems back to her early days here at Phoenix!

“I was raised with toughness from my father to work hard, love, respect, listen, share, and don’t judge [others] for we all have a right!” recalled Barbara. “My mother would give to [everyone], no matter how they spoke or looked—that’s how she herself was raised.”

She dabbled in several different jobs once she moved here, but ultimately landed in healthcare. At first, she worked for another healthcare facility and was there for 16 years, all the while working part-time at The Phoenix Residence as a Resident Assistant (similar to today’s DSP role) at Phoenix’s original flagship building. Barbara initially worked here from 1996 – 2004, but ultimately left Phoenix because her full-time job required all of her time.

Building a Relationship

In all her years here in Minnesota, there’s one individual who stole Barbara’s heart – Patrick, who now lives at Howard House. Barbara first met Patrick when she worked as a Direct Support Professional at ResCare, another disability provider. The two instantly became best friends!

“Working with Patrick is the best thing that could have happened to me, because he taught me...to take my time in understanding,” said Barbara. “I took my time with him and he was patient with me. Pat would stay side-by-side with me on my shift whenever I worked...We grew to listen, comprehend and respect [each other].”

As time passed, their relationship grew even stronger when she started working 1-on-1 with Patrick. They grew to understand each other, like no one else could. So much so that when Patrick moved out of ResCare several months ago, Barbara requested to continue working with him, even if that meant going to another provider. She had built such a strong bond with him; she didn’t want him to lose that connection.

“He has been in my life for 16 years,” said Barbara. “I left my other job to work here full-time to be with him when he needed it...I just want him to feel comfortable, feel loved, happy and understood.”

Coming Back Home

And just like that, Barbara was back here at The Phoenix Residence! This time, Phoenix looked a little different. We had moved everyone out of the main building into homes in the community. These days, Barbara continues to work with Patrick 1-on-1, while also being the Appointment Coordinator for several other Phoenix homes, including Carver, Douglas, Foss, and Newport.

Patrick now has dementia, and it really has taken a toll on him. But Barbara’s passion for helping him live a fulfilling life, has not! “For Pat to see a familiar face daily means a lot to me,” said Barbara. “Whenever I do work, he shows me that he truly appreciates it a lot with the smiles, dancing, body movement, hugs, and sign language...he speaks in his own way.”

Barbara’s Advice to New DSP Workers: “Be kind, work hard, stay humble, smile a lot, stay honest, protect yourself and especially those you work with. They need you to be their voice. Always be yourself, learn actively, and shine bright.”

Thank You Barbara for All You Do! 

“Barbara pushes staff and individuals to advocate for themselves, and she always provides support and gives feedback to anyone that is in need of it”

– Jill Moody
Assistant Program Director