Stockly Baafi – Adesha Village

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Stockly Baafi’s role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) was not part of his career plan. He explained, “In all honesty, it fell into my lap. I was running around in circles trying to find what I was most passionate about. I did any and everything.”

Baafi has been a lead DSP at RHD’s Adesha Village at Heather Road for almost three years. Adesha Village provides personalized residential services, behavior and community support, skill-building, and lifesharing to adults with mental health needs and intellectual/developmental differences.

Baafi started working as a DSP 10 years earlier at the Philadelphia-area human service provider, Melmark. Through his work at Melmark, Baafi’s professional path was solidified.

“When I was at Melmark, I had my first kid who doctors said displayed symptoms of autism. I figured, maybe I need to learn this job to make sure she was OK. It turned from just a job into a passion because I felt God was telling me, ‘this is what I put you on Earth to do,” Baafi said.

“I’ve never looked back. When my role at Melmark ended, Adesha called and I jumped on the opportunity.”

From his first role as an on-call DSP at Adesha Village, Baafi moved into assisting specific participants. After recognizing Uma’s name on the master program list, Baafi asked if he could work with her since he knew how she would respond best.

“They were happy when I made the request because Uma hadn’t yet connected with anyone. When I started working with her, we built up a schedule that prevented her from getting into challenging behaviors,” said Baafi. “When she moved into a different program after a couple of years, I then started working with Elisha.”

After his work with Uma, Baafi met Adesha Village participant, Elisha, which resulted in a two-year relationship. He explained, “Before we began working together, Elisha didn’t know how to make his bed, he didn’t know how to wash dishes or his own clothes. I told him, I will help you, but I’m not going to do things for you. You have to do them for yourself. He had a fear of climbing the escalator; he wasn’t able to climb steps. I helped him work through these fears. I was there to supervise, but he did the work. I was there to help when he needed it.”

Baafi has a special relationship with other Adesha Village participants as well.

“Stockly has been a crucial team member since the day he started working at RHD-Adesha. Not only does he go out of his way to help management by working shifts anywhere he is needed, Stockly refers to his colleagues and the residents he supports as his family,” said Adesha Village Program Manager Katie Thompson.

“We recently nicknamed him “Papa Stock” because even the most challenging residents cling to and look up to him. He teaches them how to be respectful, productive, and independent. Stockly has his Master’s degree and when I asked why he doesn’t pursue a management role, he told me that his true passion is working directly with the residents.”

Along with passion, Baafi credits patience for his skill in bringing out the best in the participants he supports.

“It takes a while for participants to master certain skills. It’s all about being consistent and doing things over and over again. To be in this kind of field you have to be extremely patient. If it takes a thousand years to master a skill, we will take our time and get it.”

Now that he’s settled into a fulfilling career, Baafi plans to take a more deliberate approach to future professional aspirations: “In the long run, I’d like to mentor someone and put them in the right direction to succeed in this field. If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work anymore.”