Two Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) of The MENTOR Network were recently named DSP of the Year in their respective states by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR). Christine Smith, of Pennsylvania MENTOR, and Katherine McCormick, of REM West Virginia, were presented with the prestigious awards May 6 at the 2014 ANCOR Conference in Miami, Florida.
“DSPs are on the front lines, supporting people with disabilities and ensuring those individuals are granted full inclusion in their communities,” said Renee Pietrangelo, CEO of ANCOR. “It is absolutely essential that individuals like Christine and Katherine are given the recognition and respect they deserve.”
ANCOR’s Direct Support Professional Recognition Award is given to those who personify the values of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign, which works to ensure a well-trained and sustainable direct support workforce. Nominees are judged on the work they’ve done to build social networks, increase community participation and advocate for those they serve.
“All of us at The MENTOR Network are proud of Christine and Katherine for their dedication to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their commitment to The Network’s mission,” said Bruce Nardella, president and CEO of The MENTOR Network. “We believe that all of our employees in direct care should be valued, supported and recognized for a job well done. Without their dedication, organizations such as ours would be unable to provide community-based services to thousands of individuals with disabilities.”
Christine Smith, Pennsylvania MENTOR
Christine began working as a DSP for Pennsylvania MENTOR at a community living residence in 2009. Each day since, she has expressed the upmost compassion for the individuals she serves and goes above and beyond the daily roles and responsibilities of her position. Recently, Christine stepped up without hesitation when the home manager was asked to assist the organization in another capacity. Never issuing a complaint or a question, she took on additional responsibilities and made for a seamless transition that benefited both the staff and the individuals supported by the program.
“We have good times together,” said an adult who lives in the community-based residence where Christine works. “I love her like a friend. We do a lot together. She takes me to visit my sister. We go to Wendy’s and Hillside Farms. She’s nice and beautiful and kind.”
Christine is a compassionate caregiver, advocate and friend for all the individuals for whom she provides services and encourages them to be active participants in the community. In addition to her responsibilities within the community living residence, she ensures that all residents have access to the support they need within the community; this includes driving one of the adults to his weekly chemotherapy treatments.
“Christine fuels the mission of Pennsylvania MENTOR,” Pennsylvania MENTOR Executive Director Mike Wilder said. “Her tremendous passion and high level of commitment challenges all of us to strive to reach her standards of excellence.”
Katherine McCormick, REM West Virginia
Over the past 30 years, Katherine has been a constant source of support for a local couple with cerebral palsy. KD and her husband, DD, have shared many amazing accomplishments, and have done so with Katherine by their side as their friend and biggest advocate. Today, Katherine supports this husband and wife in their own home through the REM West Virginia’s hourly support program.
Katherine assisted KD and DD in planning their wedding and was instrumental in helping the couple become home owners. She got them involved with the “Home of Your Own” initiative, which helps those who help themselves by saving money for a new home.
Through the years, Katherine has gone through great lengths to establish and maintain a strong, positive relationship with KD and DD, a couple that she says is like family to her. The trio is so close that Katherine has moved her own family to be closer to KD and DD each time the couple has had to relocate. Katherine currently lives across the street from them and regularly spends her personal time making sure they are healthy, happy, and comfortable.
“Katherine is an inspiration to all of us,” said Cheryl Herdman, a regional director with REM West Virginia. “Her DSP of the Year award is a well-deserved honor and a compliment to the work she does every day. All of us who know Katherine strive to make such an impact as she has had on the lives of the individuals she serves.”