Samantha Smith-Domeraski, Manager of Heather Ridge Apartments at The Arc Gloucester, is no stranger to tough times. In 2016, she was a struggling mom of a three year old and worked two jobs she held little love for. Armed with a Medical Assistant degree, she felt untethered and uncertain of what her future held. A chance encounter at a Halloween Party changed her life for good.
“Pat Connelly is really the one to thank for all this,” Samm spoke of her mentor and friend. “She has worked at The Arc [Gloucester] for so many years and always bragged about how amazing it is.” Samm happened to be at one of Connelly’s 2016 Halloween party, and stood in awe of how much love she carried for her job. “It is so crazy to think how things turned out. When Pat was talking about her job, it really felt like God was tugging me. I had this overwhelming feeling of ‘This is meant to be.’” So, Samm applied, interviewed, and was hired immediately.
In November 2016, Smith-Domeraski began as a DSP at The Arc Gloucester. “I saw a quote ‘If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’” To Samm, nothing could put it more perfectly. “I never once looked at any of my positions here as just a job. The amount of love I have for ALL of these individuals is what makes every single step that led me to this position worth it.” Being a DSP is often a challenging job, one that requires a certain level of passion and character. Smith-Domeraski certainly embodies this, musing on her relationship to the individuals, “We, The Arc [Gloucester], are their family.”
Reflecting upon her growth over her four year tenure with the agency, Samm says “It takes a village. My co-workers and leadership team have been a Godsend.” As she progressed through her career as a service provider, she felt her questions were answered, and everywhere she looked, she felt lifted up. Simply put: “I am so grateful,” she says.
Answering “what is the best part of your job” can often elicit canned responses, the expected “oh, the job is all around great,” type of response. But, Smith-Domeraski, a newlywed who left her honeymoon early to fill in during the pandemic, says, “the HUGS! Well, air fiving for now due to the pandemic.” Nothing, she says, compares to the love felt from an individual whose face lights up upon seeing you. “Not everyone can speak, but you can feel the raw emotion of happiness they have just for having you near!” One can feel the passion Smith-Domeraski holds for her position at The Arc Gloucester, exuding pure love for the individuals she serves.
A challenging position such as a DSP requires a certain drive to stay and grow within the field. Samm’s reason? “Hands down, the individuals.” If she could offer any advice to a new DSP, it would be to go to an event with all the individuals served at The Arc Gloucester, and take note of your feelings there. “Does your heart melt, and you instantly fall in love?” If so, Smith-Domeraski can tell you’ll do just fine as a DSP.
Like many jobs, a DSP position does not come without challenges. “We are a family, a team,” Samm said, reflecting that in the toughest times, The Arc Gloucester staff bands together. “We genuinely want the same thing--what is best for the individual and for each other.” Keeping this mindset, she says, can lift you up during the challenges and bumps sure to come in a career in this industry.
“Even if your hands are shaking, and you’re afraid of failing, do it anyway!” Smith-Domeraski is most certainly an advocate for striving for success and leaning on her fellow DSP staff to lift her up when she needs it. Offering this piece of advice, “You have a support team right here, just reach out,” she gives insight into the culture at The Arc Gloucester. “Ask the questions! Ask for the help! Do NOT let your pride get in the way!” Samm reminds DSPs, new and experienced, to take it one step at a time. Learn with the agency, lean on your supports and strive for growth!
As Manager of Heather Ridge Apartments at The Arc Gloucester, Smith-Domeraski now supervises her own DSP staff. She takes it upon herself to show the DSP staff appreciation and gratitude, pushing them to learn and grow in the field. “I started where they are, and it made such a difference growing in this agency knowing that someone saw me as more than what I saw in myself,” Samm reflected. “Does it require you to step out of your comfort zone? Yes. Is it hard? Not at all! It requires love for what you do, patience and a chance.”
As Smith-Domeraski settles into her position as Manager, it is not without heavy gratitude and appreciation for where she has come from and the agency that helped her to get here. “My team is a village,” she said, closing her remarks, “and I am so grateful for them.”
For information on how to join the DSP staff at The Arc Gloucester, please apply on our website or call 856-848-8648 for more information!