“How can someone be a breath of fresh air and take your breath away at the same time?” asks Program Director Carla Hill. “Karen is a bundle of energy that brings joy, light, and care to the people she supports and her coworkers. There is no one like her.”
Karen Benson is celebrating her 10th anniversary at TVS as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) working in the different community homes. She is self-described as a Life Coach and described by others as Social Director, Person-Centered, and as the ‘F’ word: Flexible.
“She can pivot on a dime,” said Residential Coordinator Lynn Brewer. “She is truly person-centered, making connections with the residents and bringing new possibilities and joy to our programs.”
Karen doesn’t just stop there. “She does research about each resident’s needs and medical conditions. That way she is better informed when taking them to their doctor appointments,” explained Lynn.
Over the past decade, Karen has managed Tanjer House, worked full-time and part-time at Fisher Road, and now floats working part-time hours wherever she is needed.
“It’s not just a job, it’s a passion! My passion is letting people know they’re cared about by seeing and offering them an enriching lifestyle,” says Karen Benson. “We are here to give a little light to other people.”
Finding a single memory in a decade is not an easy task. Karen starts laughing as she reflects on a trip to the local Cradle of Forestry. “We are walking through the cave and learning about the wild animals when we see a helicopter,” she says. “I explain to the group that it is the Forest Ranger’s helicopter and that we should sit inside to see what it looks like. The guys had so much fun, they really thought that they were in control of flying the helicopter.”
When not working at TVS, Karen keeps busy with a multitude of volunteer activities. She works at Sage Wellness and volunteers with NAMI and Hospice in Henderson County. She also volunteers her time and energy with True Ridge Ministries, a local Hendersonville Nonprofit that works with the Latino community and others in need. True Ridge Ministries provides, “a safe, kind, and supportive space towards self-sufficiency, resilience, healing and well-being.”
The volunteering does not end there. Karen also travels to Port Antonio, Jamaica annually to assist with the Portland Homeless Shelter.
Karen’s light-hearted and zany personality shines in all respects; leaving most everyone in awe of how she finds the energy and time to accomplish so much. “She is like a social director on a ship, always looking for ways to uplift others and to connect them with people who can keep them grounded, yet take them a little higher,” explains Residential DSP Carolyn Trapp. “She truly strives to help them lead fulfilling lives and to be happier.”
Karen is always going above and beyond creating friendship and connections with the many residents. Over the years, Karen has opened her home and friendship to any resident who do not have family locally with whom to spend the holidays with. She even offers her Airbnb to resident’s families so that they can have a free place to stay when they come to visit.
She explains, “It is important to be present and share a little light. We are all here to help each other.” Looking ahead, Karen is excited to continue exploring a health-conscious life-style with curious residents and aims to become a member of the TVS Wellness Committee.
“I am so grateful to Karen for referring me to TVS and for her many gifts she shares with us all!” said TVS Residential DSP Nakeisha Miller. “Karen is a dynamic individual with a compassionate nature. She truly wants the best for people and leads a life of service to others. Not only that, but she has an awesome sense of humor and brings laughter wherever she goes. Thank you, Karen, for being a ray of light to so many people!”