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The Resource Center recently honored employees who have done an outstanding job of supporting people with developmental disabilities.
During the national observance of Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, The Resource Center held its annual “Everyday Hero Celebration.” The event recognizes the efforts of Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who were nominated by co-workers or supervisors for the jobs they have done supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in TRC’s homes, day programs and the community. This year, nine people were honored as Everyday Heroes: Britnie Barmore, Cassidy Birt, Briana Green, Melissa Lauffenburger, Daniel Lutgen, Donna Matheson, Shanon Odebralski, Cheryl Stow, and Matthew Strom.
Here are profiles of the 2023 Everyday Heroes:
Britnie Barmore is a Self-Determination Assistant who has worked for TRC since 2014. She supported an elderly couple to conduct DNA research to find relatives they never knew existed. When the wife was in her final days this summer, Britnie provided comfort and care to her and the woman’s husband, then supported the husband to arrange the funeral. Co-workers described Britnie as being a compassionate and determined advocate for the people she supports. She also put in the time and effort to obtain the highest level of certification from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. “She is always on the side of the individual no matter the fight or struggle. She always finds a way, showing respect, integrity, justice, fairness, and equity,” said one of the people who nominated Britnie for the award. Click here to watch an interview with Britnie.
Cassidy Birt is a DSP at one of The Resource Center’s homes in Busti. Co-workers admire Cassidy’s ability to come up with creative ideas to keep the home’s residents busy and engaged, both at the home and in the community. She has taken residents to many school plays and arranged for them to attend a professional wrestling show. Cassidy gets along well with all of the residents and is familiar with each person’s schedule and preferences. “Cassidy goes above and beyond for the individuals,” said the person who nominated her. “She is in this job for all the right reasons.” Cassidy has worked at TRC for several years. Click here to watch an interview with Cassidy.
Briana Green is a DSP Lead at one of TRC’s Day Habilitation Programs in Jamestown. Bri possesses keen depth and insight about the people she supports. A co-worker shared a story about a time when a participant in the day program was upset because the woman had a hole in her stocking. Bri knew that wearing stockings with a hole would cause the woman to be upset all day, so she took the time to let the woman vent, and then they found a solution to the problem. “Bri knew it was a big deal to this lady, which directed her response,” said the person who nominated her. “Little things like holes in stockings are really big things, like respect.” Bri has been employed with TRC since 2021. Click here to watch an interview with Bri.
Melissa Lauffenburger is a Licensed Practical Nurse at one of TRC’s homes in Busti. She was praised for her attention to details regarding the physical health of the people she supports, making sure the residents receive scheduled medications and reminding the home’s other staff of the adaptive equipment used by some of the residents. “Melissa works tirelessly to ensure all of our residents receive the highest level of care possible,” said the fellow staffer who nominated her. “She is the best co-worker who you can have a laugh with but still ensures you do your job at the end of the day.” Melissa has been with TRC for 10 years. Click here to watch an interview with Melissa.
Dan Lutgen is a Community Coach who supports people with disabilities through TRC’s community habilitation program. Each week, Dan supports 12 people to become integrated into the community. Though he has been with The Resource Center for slightly longer than 18 months, Dan already has achieved the highest level of certification through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. “Dan is always a staff that can be called upon to flex his hours to help support an additional individual with services,” said the co-worker who nominated him, adding that he is one of the department’s most valuable employees. Click here to watch an interview with Dan.
Donna Matheson is the Instructor for the Project SEARCH initiative, a new program in which The Resource Center partners with UPMC Chautauqua to train people with developmental disabilities to work in medical settings. To help ensure the program’s success, Donna forged strong relationships with the interns, their families and UPMC staff. “She also expertly coaches UPMC staff to become comfortable interacting positively with people who have disabilities,” said her supervisor. Donna also was praised for organizing the classroom in a way that promotes learning and for utilizing community resources to plan activities outside of UPMC to enhance the interns’ learning experience. Click here to watch an interview with Donna.
Shanon Odebralski is a DSP at one of TRC’s homes in Fredonia. The home’s residents enjoy Shanon, and when she’s not there they often ask when she will next be working. Shanon is a hard worker and is admired by her fellow staff members. “Shanon is an exemplary employee, always asking what can be done after completing her daily duties,” said the person who nominated her. “Shanon supports her team and often is a motivation to other co-workers she works with.” Shanon joined TRC last year.
Cheryl Stow is a DSP at one of TRC’s homes in Jamestown. The person who nominated Cheryl said she is admired by the home’s residents and by her fellow staff. “Cheryl always comes in with a positive attitude and motivates her co-workers every shift. She is always willing to move her schedule around to benefit the house and what we need. She also has an excellent rapport with the people we support and knows them, their families and their plans very well. She is extremely knowledgeable, and we can always count on her.” Cheryl has worked for TRC since 2004.
Matt Strom is a Behavior Technician who works with residents at several of TRC’s Intermediate Care Facilities. While co-workers say Matt performs well in his regular job duties, several nominated him because of his commitment to support people with developmental disabilities to enjoy great lives by integrating them into the community. Matt often devotes evenings and weekends to taking people to restaurants, concerts, movies, sporting events, and musicals. His co-workers say it is obvious the people Matt supports appreciate the opportunity to get out and do things. “Taking people out to different events isn’t in his job description, but he makes an effort and genuinely shows how much he cares about the people we all support,” a co-worker said. Matt has been a TRC employee for 13 years. Click here to watch an interview with Matt.
Twenty-two other TRC employees who were nominated for an Everyday Hero award received honorable mention: Kiyah Carpenter, Patricia Clark, Abby Counts, Jessica Crick, Debbie Dalziel, Jacadi Duman, Heather Ferguson, Monica Gassman Deborah Glover, Lilly Gordon, June Hillman, Matt Homan, Deseree Johnson, Jeremy Kaller, Brianna Kightlinger, Jenny Leeper, Jaycee Lupold, Ashley Raymond, Jeanne Slade, Jamar Smith, Trudy VanDette, and Doug Vetillaro.
Senator George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell provided certificates of appreciation for the Everyday Hero honorees.
Other activities that took place at The Resource Center during Direct Support Professional Recognition Week included prize drawings and treating staff to ice cream at their work sites.
Making a Difference in People’s Lives ❤️
Advocating for individuals with disabilities to achieve independence🤟
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