Steve Benavides – 25 Year Milestone
Residence Counselor, Community Homes
25-Year Milestone Employee, Steve Benavides describes himself as “the duck who flew north for the winter” and an “old school nerd” who loves comic books, video games, and all forms of artistic self-expression. Starting with a stint as a Guest Pencil Illustrator for Marvel Comics, serving his country in the Infantry of the US Army, and authoring and illustrating self-published comic books, Steve has never been afraid of taking life day-by-day and creating his own path. Steve and Springbrook came together because of his love of gaming. At the recommendation of a gaming friend, Steve decided to give Springbrook a try. “I needed a job. I got right off the plane from Hawaii and started working here,” he shares. He admitted that he was a little hesitant about it being the right fit, considering he had just come from the military, but that he was “in love” by the end of his first week. He recalled that first week:
“I walked in my first day unsure of what to expect. I was assigned to work directly with a wonderful young woman—an artist. We became a hit! We would sit together drawing for what seemed like hours and she began requesting that I work with her all the time. And I just couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to draw with her!”
His experience that first week helped form the heart of Steve’s philosophy as a Direct Support Professional—a commitment to the individual and the concept that you get out of this job what you give. For Steve, there is no place for narcissism as a DSP. He shares that the heart of Direct Support work is empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another). He shares, “If you have a good mind and a good heart, the people you support will gravitate toward you. Then before you know it, you’re getting paid to do what you love.”
When we asked Steve to share advice for new employees or anyone considering a career at Springbrook, he returned to his work philosophy:
“Approach your work with, above all, an open heart. If you do that, if you are really ready to get to know the people you support, then they will want to know you. It is all about your attitude. Show the people you support a sense of compassion, interest in their lives, and a big heart. Because, as you go about your day, thinking of them and what you can do for them—someone is thinking about you!”
Throughout his 25 years, Steve has had the opportunity to share his love of art and creative self-expression. An artist himself, he has used art to connect with the people he supports, finding distinctive and fun ways for each person to share their unique view of the world. From painting and drawing to penning comic books, writing fan fiction, and creating wrestling personas—when a person gets to know Steve, they find the artist within. “I think it is because I am open and honest with the people I support. Because of that, they want to know about what makes my clock tick, allowing me to become a good teacher. Conversely, if they don’t find me interesting, I try to get into what they are interested in. It goes both ways,” he says.
Steve’s work philosophy has served him well throughout his 25 years with Springbrook, starting with is role supporting students in our residential program and now as a DSP at Springbrook’s Ford Ave Community Home. He shares that, until recently, he did not think of his time at Springbrook as a “career.” Approaching each day with a great attitude, thinking about what each person he supports needs from him in the moment, led to days, weeks, and years moving by without much drama. He shares, “I never really thought this is where I belong. I didn’t even see it as a job. I just thought, this person needs me and I am glad I can be here. Now, I do see the career I’ve made. With more years behind me than in front, I realize I’ve built a great career out of many great moments.”
Thank you, Steve, for being an integral part of many Springbrook moments, and for sharing your own moments with Springbrook. Congratulations on your 25 Year Milestone!