EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — EP!C,(Empowering People. Inspiring Capabilities) a Peoria headquartered nonprofit, works to educate, employ and house adults with disabilities.

From laundry to making coffee, EP!C caregivers adjusted to a live-in model during COVID-19 to ensure people with disabilities were properly cared for.

EP!C said this week’s CI Hero, Amanda Thompson, showcases what it truly means to live a life of service.

“Amanda just went above and beyond,” said EP!C’s Director of Marketing Ashley Schreck. “8 weeks at a time, she was living at home. By the first of the year, she spent more time living at work than at home with her own family, so just that care and dedication that she has to people with disabilities in our community is truly humbling and it’s an honor for us to have her on our staff.”

The 501c3 said direct support professionals (DSPs) like Thompson make up more than 60% of its workforce.

“She puts her heart and soul into what she does,” said Schreck. “She’s mission forward. She believes that the people we support are people and they’re people first and she’s caring and respectful.”

Thompson said she strives to make sure everyone is treated equally.

“It’s really something to know that you can make a difference in somebody’s life in a really big way,” said Thompson. “They deserve that and they need that. It takes really special patient people to work in this community.”

Thompson’s lived and visited an East Peoria home for years. It’s where she worked before and during COVID-19.

“They’re very innocent, and they’re very special,” said Thompson. “I fell in love with them right away and they became my family very quickly.”

Amanda represents several other DSPs who have gone above and beyond working the live-in staffing model, including Beth Force, Deb McBryer, Laken Schoenman, Dominique Costic, Jacob Wilson, Stephanie Turner, Joyce Stahl, Sharon Boyd, Jen Kay & Toni Schultz.

Nationally, EP!C said there’s a caregiver crisis.

The nonprofit worked to gather state legislative support to increase pay from minimum wage to a professional one.

EP!C said Illinois currently ranks 47th among states for spending when it comes to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

About EP!C
EP!C –Empowering People. Inspiring Capabilities. – is a 501C(3) headquartered in Peoria, IL. EP!C is a leader in providing education, employment, and residential opportunities to adults with disabilities, and is passionate about discovering and developing potential. For over 70 years, EP!C has refused to accept a diagnosis as an identity. EP!C’s mission is to enrich the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and together we can elevate their voices, strengths, and positive contributions.

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