Meet Mark Dickson, a J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center DSP (Direct Support Professional) for over 26 years. A gentle giant, Mark is a towering man with a natural comfort and ease that translates well into his career of service. Mark retires in October and the Trudeau Center honors him for his decades of exemplary service and highlights him as our DSP of the Year for DSP Week 2021.

Mark and Mark.

Mark’s profession as a DSP is one that he “stumbled on,” but that soon became his true calling. Feeling a little uninspired with his former occupation, 26 years ago Mark started taking classes at the Community College of Rhode Island. Mark’s favorite CCRI professor was Rita Price, who was the director of Trudeau’s day program at the time. As was Rita’s custom, she provided her class with a tour of the Trudeau Center and Mark liked what he saw and immediately believed in Trudeau’s mission to promote an enhanced quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Mark took a chance and began his second career as a DSP, and the rest is a part of Trudeau’s beautiful history.

Reminiscing about his time at Trudeau on a recent morning at the Titus group home, Mark expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude for the Trudeau Center and his coworkers, past and present.

Mark’s coworkers place all that gratitude right back on Mark. Trudeau’s Director of Adult Residential Program Darlene James can’t say enough kind words about Mark and explains his many strengths, “He maintains a professional yet personalized relationship with the folks Trudeau supports, who all like him and feel comfortable with him. Mark is always willing to help, regardless of situation or notice.”

Mark Dickson, Nancy Gannon, and group home residents.

In between helping run a weekly activity club, preparing healthy lunches, and taking residents outside for fresh air, Mark talked about maintaining three jobs by practicing healthy living and positive thinking. A father of two grown sons, Mark looks forward to retiring to Florida in October. Along the drive, he will stop in North and South Carolina to visit his son and sister. An active and fit man, Mark looks forward to a quieter life of playing golf, bocce ball, swimming and — you guessed it— a little work!

“I found a work family,” Mark said, “socially, economically and fulfillment wise. I did not do it alone and I owe a debt of gratitude to so many people.”

As we spoke about Mark’s retirement, Lorna, who lives in the Titus group home and is Mark’s biggest fan expressed, “Mark, you will be missed more than you can imagine but you will also be so happy.”

Here’s to more happiness, Mark and thanks for everything you’ve done for the Trudeau Center.