As part of our 37th Annual Recognition Award Event earlier in November, we award several individuals and businesses for their outstanding achievements. We are thrilled to announce the 2023 DSC Personal Achievement Award was awarded to Joe Phillips to recognize his resiliency and outstanding accomplishments in his professional and personal life.
“Joe is being recognized for his perseverance, commitment to work obligations, and consistent positive attitude throughout a period of significant change in his life,” says Laura Bennett, DSC’s Director of Community Day Services (CDS). Joe has been involved with DSC intermittently since 1991 and has received support from Case Management, Employment Services, and most recently, CDS. Throughout his tenure, he has been characterized as a very capable, friendly, and industrious man.
Joe states that the things most important to him are family and work. Given those priorities, it is remarkable that Joe has maintained his optimism and enthusiasm, as he experienced several life-altering events from 2020 to 2023—one being the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the closure of DSC’s Community Day Services program from March to September of 2020. During those six long months, Joe had no opportunity to work or have any face-to-face contact with any of his friends. He was able to return to work to some of his jobs he held prior to the shutdown, which included cleaning at Derek Martin Hair, Hessel Park Church, Champaign Park District parks, and the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center. Joe jumped right back into the swing of things and was conscientious, helpful, and cheerful, as always.
In 2021, Joe experienced a significant family event that changed his living arrangement. He adapted well in his new home. But soon after, Joe’s family recognized that he was capable of even more growth in independence and would likely benefit from more social and community-involved opportunities. In 2022, they encouraged Joe to tour a CILA (Community Integrated Living Arrangement). He did, and Joe was invited to move into a new group home that was opening. Although delays in opening occurred, Joe remained hopeful and positive, and finally, on April 28, 2023, he moved in. Joe has adjusted well to living more independently!
Throughout his various life-changing events over the past three years, Joe has remained the hard-working, loyal, responsible, and fun-loving man he has always been. He has also been able to continue attending day services at DSC, where he participates in his numerous Supported Employment jobs. He has added CU Independence Apartments and the Urbana Park District to his repertoire. He also volunteers at Channing Murray Foundation, Salt & Light, Solidarity Gardens, Preservation and Conservation Association; helps recycle the plastic, cardboard, and Styrofoam generated at DSC; and enjoys social activities with friends at DSC and in the community. Joe has also maintained the love and support of his family and has been able to begin a new chapter of his independent life with them cheering him on.
Congratulations, Joe! DSC is so proud of you and your accomplishments!