DSP by Day, Coach by Night

When Maureen “Mo” Manginelli switched careers six years ago, and joined Liberty ARC as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in the Family Support Services (FSS) program, she never dreamt she’d become a Special Olympics coach.

“I love what I do,” Mo said. “I love my job and I love coaching because it gives me the opportunity to see two different sides to the people I support.”

Mo said she was offered a coaching position not long after she started her job with the agency.

“I went to a practice and I just wanted to be involved – it was fun for me and everyone else,” she said. “I loved teaching them what to do and doing it with them. After that first practice, I was asked to help with the coaching, and it was a no-brainer.”

Mo helps coach Liberty ARC’s volleyball, floor hockey and basketball teams for the Special Olympics. She said she loves watching the people she supports thrive and have fun when they play sports.

“They’re totally different when they play,” she said. “Their attitudes change and they really open up. I think some individuals just have a difficult time allowing themselves to shine, but when they’re on that court or field, it’s a whole different story. They come out of their shells and have all this confidence and it’s so much fun for them, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Aside from coaching, Mo said she enjoys her job, as a whole, because it’s not like anything else she’s ever done.

“You never know what work is going to be like,” she said. “It’s never repetitive and it’s definitely never boring. Through FSS, we take the individuals on all sorts of trips and it gives them an opportunity to experience something new for the first time, and sometimes I get to experience something new, as well.”

Mo said she’s gone to New York City to see the Radio City Rockettes, visited Niagara Falls, and experienced a Harlem Globetrotters game, a monster truck show, as well as, Disney’s Frozen On Ice, just to highlight a few.

“I love going with them to these special places and events because watching them enjoy themselves and learn new things is so rewarding,” she said. “They make me feel good whenever I’m with them.”

Mo believes anyone who wants a rewarding and flexible position should apply to Liberty ARC to be a DSP. Her advice for anyone starting out as a DSP is simple: “Just have fun.”