Developing Potential, Inc. (DPI) provides a high-demand service in Lee’s Summit, Independence and Kansas City. While there are school-age programs for people with a variety of disability types, there are limited options to help continue their life progression post graduation.

Developing Potential provides multi-level support services for adults ages 19-65 with disabilities, including asperger’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and congenital quadriplegia. Currently, DPI is able to support 150 individuals, but there is a growing wait list that requires continued funding for facility and employment growth. DPI provides three program types to help fulfill its mission of supporting adults with developmental disabilities to reach their potential and achieve a dignified, adult lifestyle: On-site day services, off-site day services, and supported community employment.

On-site day services provide a combination of health support and life skills training. DPI is excited about offering off-site community services and supported community employment through community partnerships. These programs allow for the most community interaction, interpersonal development and extended independence. We sat down with Amy Cox, development director for DPI, to learn more about these special programs and how our community can get involved.

How does DPI help prepare people for active workforce?

Discussing work potential with an individual begins with a basic assessment of interests and capabilities, getting to know their personality and talking with others who know them to gauge possibilities. We may consider volunteer work for initial skill development, as well as take them to new environments in order to observe comfort level, social engagement and to explore new opportunities. Then we work on resume development, skills evaluation and career planning.

How can DPI assist the employee/employer connection if a business has not worked with an individual with a disability before?
There are really three main ways that we help bring together individuals and employers. First, support the technical aspects of performing the job and learning new skills in a different environment. Second, assist relationships with all employees. Once we make a connection with a great employer, we can work alongside individuals to support communication, help set expectations and teach employees the best way to support the individual and address employee questions. Finally, we provide the administration and management of the individuals working with a new employer. If transportation or other soft job skills need to be supported, we also provide that service.

In what other ways can people and companies partner or participate with DPI?
We always want to encourage participation with our various fundraisers and events throughout the year. Our biggest community event is December 1 and features a humorist, awards and recognition; but we will have many things between now and then. Additionally, we have “Servanthood Sunday” when church groups come to our facilities to help with special projects, cleaning, landscaping, or even painting. We also have on-site social events that volunteers help with such as a Prom where they help our participants with hair and makeup, serve as a DJ, cook a meal and more.

Community Partners
We reached out to Pam Hatcher with Integrity Group Real Estate about their newest part-time hire, who is helping in the office. Hatcher was aware of Developing Potential through a friend’s daughter who participated in the program. Hatcher met Cox during a Chamber luncheon, and she quickly agreed to discuss how the real estate group could work with a DPI individual. After discussing the desired time and skillset that would be fitting, they matched the group with a female who was looking for such a job. DPI attended the interview with the individual, who talked about her resume and previous work experience, and DPI was able to assist on some answers to the questions regarding skillset. “She had a wonderful smile,” said Hatcher who knew she would work well with their team. She now works with them two days a week, assisting with general office work and special projects for marketing and events. Hatcher added that “she is getting to know other tenants in the building and they adore her. I hope other businesses will see how rewarding it is for both sides to have such a great individual working with us.”

Weed Man is another business fortunate to have a strong employee from DPI. Office manager, Patti LeMaster, says the connection has been a blessing all around. The DPI individual took on a technical role right as their peak season was starting and really relieved other employees from having to spend time on specific details. He started working five days a week looking at topography and survey maps to figure yard-area square footage for bids and services. Working amongst the sales team for the last few months, LeMaster says, “He has really come out of his shell and our employees have opened their eyes to a happy situation all around.”