To the editor:

It's been gratifying to see the progress our society has made to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. I expect opportunities for employment, independent living and community involvement to continue to increase.

There are many reasons for this, but one that's worth noting is the role of direct-support professionals. These are caring people who work hard to assist individuals with disabilities to achieve their goals. They make their lives better in many ways. ProAct employs more than 100 direct support professionals across its six locations.

Sometimes, what's needed is encouragement, having someone who believes in you, someone who is in your corner. Other instances can include coaching, advice and assistance, and help with physical needs. Direct support professionals are there.

We love to hear the success stories about individuals with a disability. But, we should recognize the contribution of direct-support professionals who helped them along. They deserve our respect.

Their work changes lives. They connect people with jobs and teach life skills. They coordinate fulfilling volunteer efforts. They bring people out into the community to interact with others, to learn and to grow as people.

ProAct is privileged to play a part in recognizing direct support professionals as part of national Direct Support Professional Recognition Week from Sept. 9-15. Chances are that you've seen our staff and participants throughout the community.

When you do, would you consider saying hello, and thanking them for the work they do? You'll be glad to have made the connection.

Steve Ditschler

Eagan, Minn.

President and CEO of ProAct Inc.