The Resource Center recently observed National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week by honoring employees who have done an exemplary job in providing direct support to the people with developmental disabilities who TRC serves.
The agency’s annual Everyday Hero Celebration was an opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of direct support professionals (DSPs) throughout the agency while spotlighting five employees for their efforts during the past year. Those employees were Gladys Alverio, Alta Harding, Pennifer McCartney, Christine Monroe, and Lauri Vincent.
Mark Morton, Assistant Executive Director for Employee Relations, welcomed people to the event, held at The Resource Center’s administrative offices on Dunham Avenue in Celoron.
“We have so many great DSPs,” said Mark. He noted that the interaction between direct support professional and the person they’re supporting is the most important quality measure for agencies like The Resource Center.
“If you think about it, all the activities of The Resource Center really go to supporting that interaction. That is really what this agency is about,” Mark said. “That interaction really drives the mission – helping people be more independent, bettering the quality of life, being more productive.”
He added that the role of a DSP is similar to other jobs that require proficiency in a number of hard and soft skills.
“Like any other recognized profession – whether it’s nursing, teaching – being a professional in direct support requires a multitude of skills, competencies, attitudes, and beliefs. So the people we hear about today bring those skills, qualities, competencies, attitudes, and beliefs needed for the many interactions they have with the people they support, each and every day.”
Mary Jo Hamilton, Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services noted that when she visits TRC’[s homes and Day Programs, she notices all of the ways in which staff are supporting people to have the best lives possible.
“I see all the DSPs paying attention to really all those little, tiny details for each person, so they can ensure that everyone’s comfortable,” Mary Jo said. “Yhey’re ensuring that whatever they want is happening, whether it be going to a Buffalo Bills game or going for a walk in the park. So however big or small it is, you guys are the ones that are making sure that it’s happening.”
Denise Jones, TRC’s Executive Director, praised the DSPs for the support they provide to people with disabilities. She said that when she encounters DSPs, “One of the first things I ask is, `What do you enjoy about what you do?’ And without hesitation, and without exception, the first response is, `We do what we do for the people we support. We love the people that we support, and that’s why we’re here and that’s why we do the job.’ It gives me chills. I have goosebumps right now just repeating that, because that’s where we need you to be, and that’s where our staff are, and I’m so proud of that.”
Denise told the DSPs at the Everyday Hero event, “Your dedication and your support for the people we support is just outstanding and second to none.”
Terri Johnson, Director of Employment and Community-Based Services, told the Everyday Heroes that the work done by DSPs and Community Coaches is what makes TRC successful.
“Without your dedication and hard work, it’s not possible for us to do what we do on an everyday basis. Thank you so much for not only inspiring the people that you support, but the rest of your teams as well,” Terri said. “Now you are part of an elite group of people that all of your co-workers should be aspiring to get to as an Everyday Hero.”
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell dropped by the event to praise TRC’s DSPs and present each Everyday Hero with a certificate from his office. County Executive George Borrello also provided certificates to the Everyday Heroes.
Here is some info about our 2019 Everyday Heroes:
Gladys Alverio – Gladys, a Direct Support Professional at TRC’s home on Eagle Street in Dunkirk, has only worked at The Resource Center for about 18 months, but in that time she has made a positive impression. She is a reliable employee who always is at work when she’s assigned and is willing to work extra shifts when needed. Gladys often cooks with the home’s residents.
“She rallied other staff members around her and shows natural leadership skills,” said the co-worker who nominated her as an Everyday Hero. “Gladys always is heard laughing and has such an upbeat outlook. “Gladys takes new employees under her direction and trains them properly to the daily functioning of the house, for the benefit of the people we support.”
Alta Harding – Alta, a Lead DSP at one of TRC’s homes on Foote Avenue in Jamestown, has worked at The Resource Center for about three years. She is described as a hard worker who is dedicated to enhancing the lives of the people living in the home and who advocates for the residents to experience the best things in life while working toward independence.
“Every day, Alta comes into work with an amazing attitude and makes everyone around her happier,” said a co-worker who nominated her. “Alta continues to find new ways to engage with our individuals and helps other staff in finding new approaches.”
“Alta is very dedicated, she is reliable and is a joy to work with,” said another co-worker. “Alta has a great relationship with all the people she supports and also their families, and her co-workers.”
Pennifer McCartney – Penny is a Community Coach who has worked for The Resource Center since 2003. In her role, she integrates people with developmental disabilities into the community, and she is adept at coming up with fun and interesting experiences. Examples include arranging for people to make chocolate treats during a visit to Webb’s Candy Shop in Mayville, and a trip to the Grape Discovery Center in Westfield to learn about the local grape industry.
“Not only does Penny go above and beyond to provide fun opportunities, she is also very patient and loyal to the people she supports,” said the co-worker who nominated her. “She is a great communicator, brings fun and humor with her wherever she goes and is truly passionate about providing the utmost support to people.”
Christine Monroe – Christine, a DSP Lead in the Discoveries Day Habilitation Program, has worked at The Resource Center for three years. The program offers opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to explore their community and become a part of it. Christine was cited for her efforts in finding places for people to visit.
“She takes the time to make sure that each place in the community they go to is somewhere that the people have chosen,” said the person who nominated Christine. “She makes their time in the community meaningful, enjoyable, and encourages the people to learn and develop relationships.” She has even taken American Sign Language training so that she can help a person she supports to better communicate with people in the community.
Lauri Vincent – Lauri, a Self-Determination Assistant, has worked at The Resource Center for about two years. She was honored for the ways in which she has supported a woman to improve her life by, among other things, obtaining her driver’s license and acquiring a job.
“Lauri is absolutely wonderful in assisting the person she supports,” said the person who nominated her. “Lauri provides support to help her with her anxiety so she is able to be successful in her life. Lauri motivates/encourages her daily and has made a huge difference in her life for the best.”
Thirteen other employees nominated for Everyday Hero recognition received honorable mention: Don Caruso, Alyssa Fardink, Jessica Hatfield, Lisa Hoch, Ashley Luka-Conley, Jason Lutgen, Jill Marsh, Cherish Matteson, Kayla Ormsby, Tanya Schmidt, Cheryl Stow, Nichole Washer, and Margaret Wilson.
Click here to listen to a radio show about the Everyday Hero Celebration.
Click here if you’d like to make a donation to next year’s Everyday Hero Celebration in honor of one of this year’s awardees, or your favorite DSP.