The MENTOR Network is proud to announce that two Network employees have received 2020 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards from the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR). Lakisha Stewart, a Direct Support Professional from REM Mississippi, was chosen as the Mississippi Direct Support Professional of the year. Sammie Haider, a Direct Support Professional from REM North Dakota, was chosen as the North Dakota Direct Support Professional of the Year.
Each year, ANCOR, the national association representing providers of community-based services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, selects a Direct Support Professional (DSP) from each state to be recognized as DSP of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the people they serve. Nominees for the Direct Support Professional of the Year Award are judged on their success in helping people with disabilities build social networks and engage in substantive community participation and for advocating for the individuals they support.
“Congratulations, Lakisha and Sammie, on this well-deserved honor,” said Jon Fisher, President of Community Support Services for The MENTOR Network. “You represent the many extraordinary direct support staff across The MENTOR Network who make our mission possible. Thank you for your dedication and for making a difference.”
Direct Support Professional, REM Mississippi
Based in REM Mississippi’s Hattiesburg Day Program, Lakisha has been a DSP for more than nine years. Lakisha has been profoundly influenced by her brother, who has an intellectual and developmental disability—a big part of the reason she decided to work with individuals with disabilities in the first place. Her relationship with her brother inspires Lakisha to meet the needs of each person she supports in an individualized manner. She is the epitome of a person-focused DSP. Lakisha develops strong relationships with the people she supports and uses the relationship as a basis for helping the individual reach his or her goals. Lakisha is also known for her quiet, non-intrusive demeanor when working with individuals in her day program, allowing them to become as independent as possible while still providing them with the necessary support and structure to help them succeed.
Direct Support Professional, REM North Dakota
Sammie works at REM North Dakota’s Minot Day Program. She has been a DSP for over nine years. Sammie is highly innovative in finding ways to help the individuals in her program thrive. When one individual’s speech enhancement device malfunctioned, Sammie used online instructional videos to learn how to repair it herself. She then taught the rest of the staff to fix it as well, in case they found themselves in a similar situation. Sammie also created a file folder game to help an individual train for his job. The game is designed to teach the individual how to properly stack sodas—a core responsibility of his position. After playing the game for a week, the individual markedly improved his skills and was able to excel at work. The activity has become a staple of the day program’s vocational supports. These are just some instances of Sammie’s innovative approach to care.
The 2020 DSP of the Year Awards will be presented virtually on May 6. You can register for the virtual presentation here.