Marcfirst Staff Longevity Assists Clients, Community

shared courtesy of The Pantagraph

Dan Swanlund, left, Bloomington, a worker at the Sonic America’s Drive-In sweeps up debris around the parking lot under the guidance of Gary Ferguson, a job facilitator with Marcfirst. // David Proeber, The Pantagraph


NORMAL, Illinois — Dan Swanlund doesn’t care that his job facilitator at Marcfirst won a statewide award this year.

But what matters to Swanlund, who has an intellectual disability, is that he likes working with Gary Ferguson, who was named Illinois Direct Support Professional of the year by the American Network of  Community Options and Resources.

“He’s one of my favorites,” Swanlund, 30, of Bloomington, said as he and Ferguson took a break from Swanlund’s part-time job keeping the patio, tables, menu boards, parking lot and lawn clean at Sonic America’s Drive-In in Normal.

Sarah Sprague, 27, of Normal, who has an intellectual disability and lives in a Marcfirst group home, also enjoys receiving support from Marcfirst DSPs.

“They take me out somewhere and help me with my laundry,” Sprague said. “I like ’em because they are nice to me.”

“They helped me to get a job,” Sprague said of her new part-time job cleaning the women’s locker room at the Bloomington-Normal YMCA in Bloomington.

Sprague spoke at Marcfirst in Normal, sitting across the table from Jason Pasley, DSP of the Year in 2017, and Brenda Smith, DSP of the Year in 2018. The Normal-based agency provides support to people with disabilities.

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