National DSP Recognition Week September 11 - 17, 2016
- The Arc of Somerset County employs 225 DSPs.
- The Arc's DSPs hail from 18 different countries.
- Their experience with The Arc ranges from one month to 23 years.
- The average age of the DSP staff is 44 years old.
- DSPs make up 68% of The Arc's total staff.
Chris Raphael - Employment Services
Chris Raphael has worked at Camplain Road, formerly Valley Park Adult Training Center, for 7 years and knows the individuals in the program very well. Almost every individual at the center considers Chris a “friend”. Staff rotate on a monthly basis through the rooms at the Camplain Road program. Many individuals request to work in his area, and they look forward to the months that he works with them. There are several individuals at Camplain Road that need extra attention, especially if they are having a rough day. Chris is very patient with each individual and knows how to interact with them and connect in a way that makes them feel better. Chris is willing to do whatever is asked of him and is definitely a “team player”. He often meets individuals at the hospital when they are sent in emergency situations.
Chris also takes the initiative to come up with new and creative craft activities that individuals really enjoy participating in. He is known for craft activities that celebrate all the holidays throughout the year. These crafts are hung throughout the Camplain Road Center. We are very proud that Chris can serve as a role model for other staff on how best to interact in a Person Centered manner throughout each day.
Thank you Chris for being a great role model!
Jimoh Faleke “Mukhtar” - Residential Services
Jimoh Faleke “Mukhtar” works at the Pioneer Group Home and recently took Jose to see his mother, not long after his father had passed away. They all went out to lunch together and had a great time. While they were out Jose suggested to his mom that since she was now alone, that she marry Mukhtar so he could take care of her, just like he takes care of Jose.
Thank you Mukhtar for having such a positive impact on Jose and his family!
Colleen Quinn – Employment Services
Colleen is constantly thinking of new ideas for the individuals to work on, and always includes each individual in her activities. She focuses on their abilities, and not their disabilities. She always finds a way for each person to participate.
She recently started an activity called “Passport Around the World”. She has the individuals describe their “dream” vacation, and from there they come up with a story. Some of the individuals choose to go on vacation by themselves and others team up and come up with the story as a group. After choosing the place they would like to visit, and they come up with all the details of the trip.
This activity gives the individuals an opportunity to “fantasize” and learn more about places around the world. The individuals are so excited about this project and cannot wait to share their stories with visitors.
Thank you Colleen for expanding the horizons of those we serve!
September 13 - 19, 2015
- The Arc of Somerset County employs 232 DSPs.
- The Arc's DSPs hail from 18 different countries.
- Their experience with The Arc ranges from one month to 23 years.
- The average age of the DSP staff is 45 years old.
- DSPs make up 72% of The Arc's total staff.
Trenice Ocasio-Residential Services
Trenice Ocasio came to the Supportive Living Program in January 2014. She has had a very positive impact on the Residential Department. Trenice puts in long hours to ensure our individual’s expectations regarding their quality of life have been met. She devised a system for one individual who is legally blind to maintain his independence with washing his own clothes. Trenice used a sticky note to mark the spot on the knob for the proper cycle. She figured out a way for another individual to keep a tidy apartment and maintain an organized and functional environment. She builds positive relationships with the individuals on her program, welcoming them into her home for the holidays when they cannot spend time with family members. Trenice is a great asset to the residential team. She is always willing to learn new things, keeps in contact with family members acts as team player, and is always willing to help others in their time of need. We are pleased to work with this amazing staff member.
Chris Raphael - Employment Services
Chris has worked at Camplain Road, formerly Valley Park Adult Training Center, for six years. He knows the individuals very well. As evidenced at IHP meetings, almost every individual at the center considers Chris a “friend”. Many individuals request to work in his area, and they look forward to the time that he works with them. There are several individuals at Camplain Road that need extra attention, especially if they are having a tough day. Chris is very patient with them and knows how to interact with them to support them in any way that is needed. He will often meet individuals at the hospital when they are sent in emergency situations. Chris is willing to do whatever is asked of him and is definitely a “team player”.
Mouna Messaoudi - Residential Services
When the manager of the Union Avenue 1 Supervised Apartments went on leave, the Assistant Manager Mouna took a lead over the program even without her supervisor requesting her to do so. Mouna has a strong feeling of responsibility for all that is happening at the program. She keeps in mind the details necessary to make right decision and possesses knowledge to do any of the work required at the program. Other staff members learn from her organizational skills and most importantly the attitude to work. Acting as a role model she energizes other people to do their work better and be responsible for it. Her supervisor was very concerned about this very busy program in the unplanned absence of the manager, but thanks to Mouna involvement and personal values, staff members responded positively to their new supervisor and joined her in her efforts to keep program running on the same outstanding performance level.
Patricia Hobbs-Employment Services
Patricia started working at the Jill Court Adult Training Center on January 2015. She came in with a positive attitude and it has been apparent from the time that she started that her heart is in the right place. She cares a great deal about the individuals and they love working with her, often requesting to work with her. There is a lot of physical work involved at Jill Court and Patricia never complains about the amount of individuals she has assisted because she knows they are reason we are here. Patricia is responsible meeting the cars and buses in the morning and afternoon. She voluntarily changed her schedule to come in early to accommodate the transportation needs of a family. She realized the transportation issue might impact this individual’s ability to attend the program, so without hesitation made the schedule change. Patricia has brought some great ideas to Jill Court and is truly a team player and a great role model.
John Gichungwa-Residential Services
John supports the Ardsley Group Home once a week on Fridays. His work ethic, professionalism, patience, support, interpersonal skills, ability to consistently go beyond the call of duty and capability to be proactive, make him an outstanding employee. John understands the importance of team work and always completes his responsibilities ahead of schedule. His supervisor truly appreciates the work he does. More importantly, the individuals he works with enjoy his company and companionship on the days that he is there.
September 7 - 13, 2014
- The Arc of Somerset County employs 250 DSPs.
- The Arc's DSPs hail from 20 different countries.
- Their experience with The Arc ranges from one month to 20 years.
- The average age of the DSP staff is 43 years old.
- DSPs make up 64% of The Arc's total staff.
Sakree Tillman joined the Residential program as the Manager of Supported Living Program (SLP) July 23, 2014. As soon as taking up the leadership role as the manager of the SLP program, she was quick to assist an individual in the program to obtain employment. This individual has been out of work for almost two years. In addition, Sakree was able to gain the trust and respect from the individuals after losing staff members that were important to them. As a result, another individual served now allow staff to participate in receiving reports from doctors (going into the room with them). Sakree took the time to match staff and persons-served to help create person-centered supports, Sakree has open communication with family members and guardians. In addition, Sakree is a team player and will step in and provide coverage whenever there is a last minute call out. Sakree continues to ensure his individuals are receiving best quality of life.
The Teacher Assistants at the Developmental Daycare and Preschool at the Jerry Davis Center for Children and Families exhibit amazing strength and flexibility! They are able to be supportive and encouraging to the children in one moment, distract and re-direct the next moment, and sing songs and play games the next. Their energy is solely directed at the children and ensuring their growth and development.
Matt Pribula gave 110% throughout the entire summer. He volunteered to work with campers who exhibited challenging behaviors and was very successful in ensuring those campers had a quality camp experience.
Shavonne Stick from the Branchburg Employment Center starts each day with an idea of how best to keep person served happy while making a difference. This year she surveyed the consumers looking into their interests for community outings and was able to plan and accommodate day trips. The day trips were to Keansburg Beach and amusement park, 4-H fair, afternoon coffee breaks, and she held a create your own sundae while at work activity. Shavonne displays a very high level of care when interacting with ALL consumers served within our agency. She consistently goes above and beyond the requirements of her position as long as the consumer’s interest is represented.
Jess Peyser is the Night Director at Camp Jotoni. During her time at camp, she worked with campers to adapt the programs so all campers, regardless of ability, were able to participate and enjoy themselves, while leading staff and campers at the same time. Often ‘sleepover’ camp is the first away from home experience for our campers, and Jess made sure all of our campers where comfortable and had a great camp experience.
Crystal Condit recently became the Respite Coordinator for the Saturday Respite Program. She has shown great initiative in coordinating the program. She works closely with families to ensure open communication and engages the students in activities that meet each child’s unique needs.
Tara McDonough, a counselor a Camp Jotoni, has a positive attitude 100% of the time and this brings out the best in all the campers. She is able to calm nervous campers and is able to get them to participate when no one else could. Tara worked to mentor our young, newer counselors.
Marlene Fox started as a Support Counselor for The Arc in the 2000 at the Kirby Adult Training Center. Marlene transferred to the supported employment department in 2012. She immediately became part of the team and was eager to learn all new tasks of the job to help the consumers. She asked to take additional trainings and gathered all the information she could. Marlene helped consumers that were not on her work load to attempt to get the jobs they desired by going out to employers and advocating for them. Marlene has often gone to management to suggest new ideas and will regularly complete tasks to enhance the department. She is an excellent team player, always willing to help out co-workers. She is a mentor for new staff and she even switched her planned vacation for a co-worker who needed the same time off. Marlene is a huge advocate for the consumers and a big support for her co-workers and an asset to the Supported Employment department.
LaTonya Beaufort a Support Counselor Branchburg ATC has a calm demeanor that aides in consumer relaxation, especially for those who are new and adjusting to the large program. The consumers seek Tonya out when they need additional supports Her participation within the program has always been 100%. Tonya’s hard work demonstrate our “Team Work Makes The Dream Work” Slogan.
Mouna Messaoud is a valued part of The Arc of Somerset County and the Union Ave 1 staff. Mouna gives 100% to everything she does and has continued to strive each day to implement the ideas Person Centered Thinking. She engages the consumers in community activities such as the casino, Seaside Heights, Camden Aquarium, Columbus Flea Market and much more. She is truly dedicated to our consumers and ensuring their day-to-day life if full and complete.
Michele Reilly has worked so hard to make improvements in the school – using information from state quality program, the environmental rating scales and the many workshops and trainings she attended this past year. She is using the new information to implement the Creative Curriculum in all the classrooms and has redesigned the rooms and centers to best serve the children. She has been a leader in the classrooms, mentoring the younger teachers and working with the families.
Katherine Swingle, acting manager of Union Avenue supervised apartments has shown what it means to be dedicated and focused on her individuals in her program: from cleanliness of the entire place, to decorating each apartment to reflect the personality of the resident. Katherine has transformed Union Avenue apartments to a program which now is desired by many. Katherine’s motto is “nothing is impossible” she has opened doors that seemed to have been closed. The residents now go out into the community for events such as a casino, Camden Aquarium, Point Pleasant Beach, concerts at Duke Island Park, and Bingo. Recently, one of the residents received a communication device that has improved her quality of life because she is now able to easily express herself.
Blog written by Bev Eschbach:
The most important job in agencies that provide service for people with disabilities is not Directors of Departments, Executives, HR, and or Finance; although administrative staff does provide an important role, the DSP (Direct Support Professional) has the most important role. When asking a few people what role does a DSP participate in one’s life; there is not just one answer.
Sure a DSP helps assist individuals with meals, medications, doctor’s appointments, finances, jobs, achieving IHP Goals, and daily life routines. A DSP helps assist with the basic needs of service recipient. What about the need for human interactions, having a friend in some cases a family, providing loving and caring environment, building trust, confidence, showing individual’s dignity, respect and integrity, providing personal care, seeing people with disabilities at their most vulnerable state; even the service recipient with the toughest exterior. As simple as making a meal; knowing what the individual’s favorite dish or what not to make. DSP learns how to bring out a smile and laughter, when someone is having a tough day or knows when to give that person space. DSP knows what an individual enjoy during recreational time, maybe as simple as watching a TV show or going to a sports event or shopping. DSP knows how important it is for an individual to make their own choices as much as possible; but when a staff needs to help make a choice for a person, they know their likes and dislikes. DSP knows an individual just as they would know their own family. This is very evident when the individual favorite staff comes in to work a shift and the biggest smile appears on an individual’s face with such excitement. The trust that has been built from scratch you can see in both set of eyes (Staff and Service Recipient) just like old friends. The most important role here is, being that person that at any given time brings joy and gladness to the lives of service recipients and occasionally filling the void of family contact in certain particular instances and the instant gratification that comes along with that.
When asking a DSP what the most important aspect of their job is…they don’t say money or earning a paycheck…they say providing a caring compassionate environment, treating individual with respect and decency… “The individual’s we support, they are our extended family”. This is such gratitude, integrity and dignity that DSP demonstrate on a daily basis. The DSP is the heart of an agency.
National DSP Recognition Week September 8-14, 2013
Join The Arc of Somerset County in honoring our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who are dedicated to providing quality care to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Thank a DSP today!
Did you know...
The Arc employs 231 Direct Support Professionals?
The experience of the DSPs at The Arc ranges from one month to 19 years?
The Arc's DSPs hail from 20 different countries?
DSPs make up 59% of The Arc's total staff?
The average age of The Arc's DSP staff is 43 yrs.
Below are stories about DSPs from The Arc who go above and beyond to enrich the lives of those we serve:
The staff at the Old Stirling Group Home has made a tremendous effort helping residents participate in community activities most weekends. Recent activities include attending a Somerset Patriots Game, going to the mall to eat, visiting the Turtle Back Zoo, playing bingo, and going shopping. Thank you Old Stirling Staff!
Job Coach Robert Aluka’s oversight of the janitorial services at the DMV in Somerville has been outstanding. His selfless efforts have ensured continued community-based employment to several individuals that we serve. Thanks!
A big ‘thank you’ to the dedicated and hard-working staff at the Steinmetz Group Home who assisted a resident in relearning how to use her walker again safely. She no longer relies totally on her wheelchair.
Thanks, Steve O’Donnell from the Branchburg Day Program, for your consistently calm and professional demeanor, regardless of the day’s particular challenges. Your actions reflect your person-centered approach to the job…an example for us all!
Two of the residents at the Ardsley Group Home don’t have family to spend the holidays with. Every year, almost every holiday, Shirley Meister has invited these residents into her home to spend the holiday with her family. The residents are considered such a part of her family that they also attend her grandchildren’s birthday parties. Although Shirley retired this year, she has promised to continue her invites and work at least once a week as a substitute at Ardsley because she’d “miss us too much.”
When a resident from the Cambridge Group Home was to be discharged home from the hospital, the manager, Pam Smith recognized that the resident didn’t have the strength she needed to be safe in her home. After Pam advocated for a re-evaluation for the resident before discharge, she was transferred to a rehab center and when she returned home, she was able to safely resume her normal routine.
Pedro Salazar from Union Ave 1 is an excellent worker! He comes in early to attend doctor appointments and is always willing to drive our residents wherever they need to go. Pedro takes them out into the community in the evening, participates in the activities, and always has them smiling.
Thank you to Joseph Nyabuto, from Jill Court Adult Training Center, for your continued willingness to go the extra mile and your caring attitude in support of those we serve on a daily basis.
Shavonne Strick has a passion for cooking and often brings in homemade food for the Cambridge Group Home residents. The menus she creates incorporate healthy foods that the residents like and are already present in the home. In addition, she offers suggestions to other staff about preparing balanced and nutritious meals for the residents.
Richard Ruwell is very dedicated to the residents at Union Ave 1. He stays late to ensure the shift is properly covered, often comes in on his day off to cover an open shift, and at times, he needs to be told to go home! He didn’t miss a day of work after Hurricane Sandy despite the gas shortage and power outages. During an absence from work, he called every day to check on the consumers. Richard truly loves his job!
Divine Dinkens from Commons 2 is a selfless worker, always willing to assist the clients without any reservation. She knows what is expected of her and executes her duties with very little supervision or prompting. She regularly cleans the resident’s apartments, covers open shifts, and volunteers to go food shopping and take consumers to their doctor appointments.
Peter Borongo volunteered to train all the staff at the Warren Group Home on the computerized medication management system. He made himself available whenever the staff needed assistance and, as a result, the records are complete and accurate.
Keyonia Bryant demonstrates a high standard of care for the residents at the Old Stirling Group Home. She goes above and beyond what is required of her. For example, she organized a birthday party for one of the residents. When she observes a resident who is not having a good day, she takes it upon herself to engage the individual is an activity that he/she enjoys.
Roseline Louis does her best to ensure the residents at Commons 1 eat a healthy diet. She assists the residents when they create their menus and does the food shopping. She also make sure the apartments are clean. She is dedicated to all the residents at Commons..
Cynthia Love is an amazing DSP, she truly loves the residents at the Ardsley Group Home. She keeps track of the residents clothing, knowing when they need to go shopping. She creates the menus and does the shopping, taking advantage of sales and saving the home money while providing delicious and nutritious meals.
Melanie Wester, Support Counselor from the Supported Living Program (SLP), filled in for the SLP Manager while she was on vacation. She took it upon herself to ensure all the residents had everything they needed and their daily schedules were not interrupted.
Jadson Nyakeri, Maxime Antonin, Peter Momanyi, David Ault, and Joel Mwangi from Lindsley Supported Apartments consistently go beyond their regular duties, always demonstrating integrity and outstanding quality of care. During the past year, the two residents have had medical issues and at one time, both were in different rehab facilities. Staff made arrangements to take both the residents out for a recreational activity. The residents were happy to see each other and be with the staff, just like the “old days’. The staff is dedicated to keeping the residents spirits high and helping them continue to feel a part of the ‘Lindsley Family’ regardless of their physical location. The actions of the staff are deeply appreciated.
On Monday, October 29, 2012, Super Storm Sandy brought rain, wind, downed trees, and power outages to New Jersey. Many Arc staff members demonstrated heroism and dedication above and beyond the call of duty during the storm and subsequent days. Below are examples of the dedication of The Arc's staff, as told by Arc staff.
“Thank you to the staff at the Mobus Group Home for working all their shifts during the hurricane despite having their own personal situations to deal with.
A special thank you to Susan Marita and Adele Epps who stayed with the residents throughout the storm. Susan went out of her way and prepared food at her house for our residents even though she did not have power, she used her gas stove to prepare the meal.”
"On November 1, with day program cancelled and no power or light in the building, Tolk Murallo (Warehouse Manager) picked up the key to the Valley Park ATC and delivered materials to our customer (Oticon) in Somerset enabling them to keep their production lines in operation...true customer focus!"
"The Staff at Cedar Grove Group Home did a wonderful job during Hurricane Sandy. Bolanle Ogunfowara made herself available for 53 hours due to staff’s inability to drive to work, despite her family's needs.
Eva Salazar and Edith Joseph also were available, even with hardships, to take care of consumers during the storm.
Samuel Misigah took a lot of trouble to procure all the emergency supplies so that the consumers could live comfortably. All of them deserve special commendation for their dedication and commitment to their job."
“Travis Kirksey was at Jill Court with the folks for numerous hours, ensuring all was running smoothly and taking care of the little things that could have turned into big things easily. He was often the only manager on site and assumed the leadership role without hesitation. I noticed him interacting with individuals from other group homes with the ease he shows with “his folks” at Union Ave. 1. He showed caring, compassion and understanding during a difficult time that appeared to me to be above the expectations. He engaged the folks in various activities for fun in addition to ensuring health and safety was foremost in the minds of all.”
The following Old Stirling Group Home staff braved the terrifying day and night during the Hurricane Sandy to serve the residents:
Millicent Jarrett, Michael Ossai, Olumide Owoade, Samuel Kamara, Donna Tingley, and Abisola Adofolu
These staff made a remarkable and undisputed sacrifices by waiting in long lines for gas so the generator supply would remain throughout the 10 days that they did not have power.
OSGH management recommends them as "HEROS OF STORM SANDY" because their services were unique and excellent."
"I would like to recognize Jen Orlick, Director of Children and Family Services and Daycare staff members Dorota Surtel, Katie DaCruz, Crystal Condit and Lori Pulese for their support of the group homes who were relocated to Jill Court after the storm. The group shopped for groceries, cooked the food in the Jerry Davis kitchen, delivered the baked ziti, vegetables, and brownies to Jill Court, and set up the food. Before retuning to Jerry Davis, they spent time visiting with the consumers. What a extraordinary example of intra-agency support!"
"Claremont Group Home Manager Bolankale Kukoyi collected water from her home for the program when they had no running water, she also prepared hot meals and hot tea from her home which she brought for the folks and staff who had no power at the time.
Bola worked through out the storm as she supported her staff, often walking back on foot to the house after they had relocated to check that the home was intact. She had to walk due to the road being closed off with fallen wires and trees. She demonstrated leadership which was admirable.
In addition a word of thanks to all the staff that worked as a team and held shifts through out the storm Florence Obado, Paskalia Nyaaga, Kennedy Gisege, Ibrahim Kallon, Victor and Rober Ododa. "