Council Bluffs Residential Services Assistant Maria Mabe is one of the many direct support professionals who help Vodec consumers in Nebraska and Iowa realize their potential every day.

Kindness is her superpower, and her purpose in life is to advocate for vulnerable populations. It’s no wonder, then, that Residential Services Assistant (RSA) Maria Mabe will celebrate her 10th anniversary at Vodec in January.

Maria, a native of Carter Lake, Iowa, began her Vodec connection in 2012. She moved to Omaha that year to finish her degree in behavioral science at Bellevue University and was looking for an income source to support her family. “I had always considered Vodec to be at the top of its profession and started working as an RSA on weekends in Nebraska,” she said.

After three years in that position, Maria crossed the river to become a Residential Services Supervisor (RSS) in Council Bluffs, a job she held for four years. Her current RSA position in one of Vodec’s Council Bluffs group homes allows the single mom of two to focus on her sons – Hayden, 12, and Triton, who just turned three.

“Maria is a very caring person and puts the needs of the individuals she serves first,” says Julie Fox, her Vodec RSS. “She has a positive, upbeat attitude and is always willing to help out in any way she can, whether it’s offering solutions to problems or covering open shifts in all of the group homes. She’s a great asset to Vodec, and I enjoy being her supervisor.”

Maria currently spends her weekends with Vodec consumers and roommates Kathy, Lisa and Maggie – all of whom attend day services at Vodec’s Council Bluffs Development Center. She’s used the top three resources in her direct support professional toolkit – patience, kindness and trust – to get to know each woman, not only their physical needs but who they are as people and adults.

“You need patience and kindness to develop trust over time,” Maria said. “I like to focus on strength building – I’ve found that you can correct a behavior a lot easier by focusing on the good instead of holding poor choices against a consumer.”

Maria is also quick to point out she gets from her consumers as much as she gives them. “You can come as you are – they’ve given me so much freedom and have helped me step into the person I am today,” she said. “They’ve also taught me a lot about enjoying the simple things life offers, to appreciate the little things most of us take for granted.”

When Triton is old enough, Maria knows she will return to school to pursue her master’s degree. She also knows Vodec will be there to support her work needs, whatever they may be. “Vodec has tailored itself to fit my life for the past 10 years,” she said. “You can thrive, move up or move down. It’s like my second family, and I’m forever grateful.”

If you know someone who has what it takes to be a direct support professional like Maria, contact Vodec recruiter Caitlyn Ticknor at cticknor@vodec.org.

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