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TVS celebrates Direct Support Professionals for National Recognition Week

TVS celebrates Direct Support Professionals for National Recognition Week

“Our DSPs at TVS are life changers,” said Brooke Wilson, INTERACT Supervisor. “They are the heart and soul of all our programs.”

In honor of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) week, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) has planned a Superhero themed pizza party for their DSP, as well as, other Superhero themed gifts and recognitions.

DSP week is a way to nationally recognize all direct support workforce supporting people with disabilities. A DSP is defined by Wilson as, “a person who truly cares, commits themselves, and values their job or purpose. They have the best job ever walking alongside the most amazing folks as they explore, grow, and change the world – one day at a time.”

You might have seen TVS DSPs volunteering with participants at the local animal shelter or participating in a Rotary Club sponsored 5K or even a DSP supporting a client working at a local business.

“TVS always recognizes the DSPs year-round,” said Wilson. “But this week is a way to celebrate each individual DSP with the recognition of all the extraordinary, unique gifts and talents that they bring to our participants and each other.”

TVS currently staffs almost 30 DSPs that provides supports to two separate day programs (INTERACT and Life Skills), two residential group homes, individuals living home in their own homes, and numerous individuals with jobs in our community.

It is hard to describe a job that does not fit into a box, however, DSPs at TVS are a little bit of everything including; teachers, nurse assistants, chauffeurs, Zen Masters, exercise instructors, and more. “The most important duty of a DSP is safeguarding the health, safety, and welfare of the participants,” said Carla Hill, TVS Programs Manager. “Followed by ensuring that each participant is living their best life, whatever that means to each individual.”

TVS DSPs have a willingness to be challenged, a heart for all individuals, and have their own talents worth sharing. Hill says, “When they find that talent, it is a spark of magic and you can see how meaningful it all is. They bring their own unique talents to our team.”

“Every day I get to see the excitement and enthusiasm that our DSPs bring to their jobs to assist individuals,” said Hill. “They build relationships with individuals and share in the experiences and exposures that may not be an opportunity without the support of our awesome DSPs.”

TVS DSPs are engaged with people 24/7. “They are a very significant part of the lives of the people we support,” said Hill. “The most challenging part of the job is keeping a tough boundary with a therapeutic verses friend relationship.  With a huge heart, I thank all our DSPs for what they do to ensure that TVS participants are treated with respect and dignity.”

Highlighting all their dedicated and hard work Program Manager Suzanne Byers said, “we work hard to make sure our DSPs are well-trained and focused on person-centered services.”

Byers continues, “We recognize it is a difficult job as a manager or a supervisor and we want to do everything we can to support staff so they can support participants. Without DSPs individuals with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and their families would struggle to find the supports they need.” 

Currently there is a DSP workforce crisis. There is a high demand for services with no workers to fill the spots and limited recognition for those working in those jobs. “We continue to promote Direct Support Professionals as a recognized career,” said Byers.

If you see a TVS DSP out in the community stop and let them know how appreciated they are.

Read the Press Release from the Transylvania Times here. 


“Free Spirit” artwork returns home to TVS

“Free Spirit” artwork returns home to TVS

Brevard, NC (November 18, 2019) – Every year the Free Rein Gala offers an opportunity for community members to participate in a silent and live auction. This year, TVS Life Skills participants created and donated “Free Spirit,” a mixed media piece of artwork. This beautifully crafted horse painting now carries a heartwarming journey.

“Free Spirit” was inspired by the fun and freedom that Free Rein provides for the TVS participants. The horse was created with different elements that relates to the experiences. The sand is representing the dusty ground, corn as a horse snack, and the feathers representing the outdoors and the feeling of flying that is experienced while riding the horses.

Each aspect of the artwork is thoughtful and expressive. “Our TVS participants greatly look forward to Free Rein each session,” said Life Skills Supervisor Suzanne Byers. “Free Rein allows us to challenge ourselves, overcome obstacles, and meet goals that everyday life experiences might not provide us the opportunity to do.”

Click here to read the full PDF or to view the Transylvania Times article.

TVS and Free Rein, a continued companionship

TVS and Free Rein, a continued companionship

For the past seven years, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) and the Free Rein Center for Therapeutic Riding and Education have been working together to help reach the individual goals of participants and offering volunteer hours since 2014.

After several years of a successful partnership, both entities determined that sharing individual goals would allow each individual participant to see a greater gain. With the focus on shared goals, individuals have improved communications skills and their ability to advocate for themselves.

“This past year, we sat down and discussed what each side was attempting to accomplish,” said Free Rein Program Chair, Brittany McCathern. “Now we are working together to accomplish the same goals for the individuals.”


At Free Rein, TVS individuals are taught how to groom the horses prior to riding. They learn the order of the brushes and their individual purpose, along with the different parts to the saddle and in what order they are placed on the horse.

Individuals interested in riding horses are instructed by trained volunteers who walk beside the horses and assist in direction steering as needed.


Riders are prompted to communicate with their horses by giving them directions and commands. They are also asked to make different stretches while riding such as twisting to the left or right, and lifting their hands into the air.

“The exercises help with different physical components such as posture, balance, and as a way of improving environmental proprioception and feeling grounded,” said TVS Life Skills Supervisor Suzanne Byers.

There are many benefits from participating including; communication, building core strength and balance, learning to follow directions, sequencing, and listening. There is also the benefit of interacting with the horses. 


“The best part is watching the progress of each individual,” said McCathern. “We have seen a couple people that only used to groom the horses, grow to where they are now riding a horse with limited to no assistance.”

After stretches and directional practices, participants ride from the barn to a special tactile obstacle course in a lower field. Riders are able to lead their horses to large games, up on wooden platforms, and through hanging pool noodles. The course offers an unique experience in a fun environment.

“I love watching individuals grow and gain skills and seeing them so happy up there on a horse,” said Free Rein Program Chair Porsha Smith. “When they look down at you and smile, that is what it’s all about.”

Please visit to learn more information about Free Rein.

Written by Jenifer Welch

TVS Gets a New Van

TVS Gets a New Van


TVS gets a new van

Earlier this year, Transylvania Vocational Services (TVS) received a grant from the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation. The generous donation allowed for TVS to purchase a new van to transport day program participants and Direct Support Providers (DSP) to community service events and volunteer activities.

The needs of TVS Life Skills program participants require special vehicles that can accommodate anyone. Ilderton Conversion Company helped in pricing and in customization. Ilderton specializes in vehicles that can serve individual purposes.

“We had been looking at purchasing a new vehicle for two years,” TVS Safety and Security Manager Jackie Compton said. “We were down to only one that had a wheelchair lift. We just did not the available funds at the time.”

The TVS Life Skills program provides enrichment opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are aging, retired, or have complex needs. Helping them stay engaged in the community often requires vehicles with special accommodations.

The Audrey Love Foundation has made generous donations in the past allowing TVS to continue to serve the mission of helping adults with disabilities thrive through work and social engagement.

Audrey Love would have been happy to help your worthy cause,” was written on the donation.

The Audrey Love Charitable Foundation was created by philanthropist Audrey Love, in support of her passion for the arts and philanthropy.

Love died in 2003 at 100 years old. She participated in the building of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Performing Arts Center in Miami.

She also had served on the Board of Directors of the New York Infirmary Hospital and as a member of the Committee for Deaf and Dumb Children in New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital. On the committee, she also assisted in raising money for the creation of its new wing.

Continuing her contributions, Love was also on the board of A.S.P.C.A. where she was awarded the Humanitarian Award.

About TVS TVS is a social enterprise contract manufacturer specializing in the blending and packaging of dry food and beverage products. Founded in 1967, their mission is to provide quality employment, job training and residential & community services to individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. For more information go to

Written by Jenifer Welch