The MENTOR Network

DSP of the Day

At The MENTOR Network, we value our Direct Support Professionals, Life Skills Trainers, Personal Service Attendants, Certified Nurses Assistants and others in direct support for their dedication to those we serve and their critical role in carrying out our mission every day.

Once again in 2020—in honor of Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, beginning September 13—The MENTOR Network is celebrating our DSPs and other employees in a direct support role throughout the month of September. Please take a moment to meet these talented individuals and remember to thank them for their commitment to the individuals we serve. You can also find this, along with our DSP of the Week campaign throughout the rest of the year, on The MENTOR Network’s Facebook page.


September 30

DSP of the Day: Jackie Ailts, REM Minnesota, Habilitative Services

“I love working with our team to support and assist people we serve in achieving their goals. Our favorite outings include going on walks and sitting by the lake.”


September 29

DSP of the Day: Victoria Sepesy, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“I have been with The MENTOR Network for over twenty years and take pride in my role supporting the people we serve. They are like family to me. One of my favorite memories is a vacation I accompanied one individual we serve on. We attended a Beach Boys concert and shopped till we dropped. I loved seeing her get out and do the things she loves to do.”


September 28

DSP of the Day: Nancy Devi, NeuroRestorative Iowa

“I work in a direct support role because I want to make a positive difference in someone’s life, whether it be teaching someone how to cook, walk again, or cope with their emotions. Some days can be really stressful, but those days where you get an individual we serve to laugh or forget about the struggle they are going through are very rewarding. Like I say to those we serve, I come to work because I care and love my job. Some of our favorite things to do out in the community include fishing, cleaning up the environment, and playing with puppies at the adoption center.”


September 27

DSP of the Day: Janet Hanson, REM Minnesota, Habilitative Services

“As a DSP, I enjoy being part of the lives of the individuals we serve. It is rewarding to support them in their everyday lives and help them plan for special activities that they enjoy. I recently took one individual we serve camping. We stayed in a cabin and enjoyed nature walks, watched the river flow by, explored the campground, listened to the birds and insects, and inspected the various plants and trees. He especially enjoyed playing the bean bag toss game and making dinner over the campfire, but I think his favorite part was making s’mores!”

September 26

DSP of the Day: Michael Dotson, REM West Virginia

“I feel it is my duty to help people live their best life. I especially enjoy supporting the people we serve by teaching them how to advocate for themselves. One of our favorite things to do is to go to the local park and swing on the swings together. Sometimes we’ll pack a lunch and spend the entire afternoon outside.”

September 25

DSP of the Day: Carol Danilchak, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“I have always been interested in helping people. At The MENTOR Network I have supported and assisted the people we serve for over ten years. They are like family to me. I work in the evening and nights and most nights they wait for me to come before going to bed just so we can touch base before they sleep.”

September 24

DSP of the Day: Gianna Cassell, New Jersey MENTOR

“I choose this path because I am passionate about helping youth reach their full potential and have dedicated my life to advocating and helping them take strides towards their goals. It is rewarding to be part of a team and organization that provides various services to help youth succeed. One of my favorite activities to do with the youth we support is to meet in psycho-educational groups. During these groups, the youth are engaged in learning essential life skills and have the opportunity to communicate their views. It is a great learning experience for everyone.”

September 23

DSP of the Day: Cindy Frost, REM Nevada

“I enjoy seeing the people we serve get involved in different activities and have fun. I especially like going to the park with them to play ball—we always have a great time together.”

September 22

DSP of the Day: Danielle Deems, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“Caring for and communicating with the individuals we serve is a great learning experience and opportunity. Our favorite outings include going out to eat and taking walks around the community, but I enjoy doing anything they are interested in.”


September 21

DSP of the Day: Latia Young, NeuroRestorative Iowa

“I enjoy helping others and watching them succeed. I always encourage the people we serve to reach for their goals and become as independent as possible. Recently, I enjoyed going on a nature walk with the individuals we support. It was great to see them enjoy the beauty of nature and find joy discovering new ways to overcome obstacles in these challenging times.”

September 20

DSP of the Day: Julie Beaver, Arizona MENTOR

“I enjoy assisting the people we serve as they learn new skills, such as cooking. I also enjoy using my communication skills to actively listen to them and discuss any concerns they may have, especially during COVID. Our favorite outings include shopping and taking walks together in the neighborhood.”

September 19

DSP of the Day: Raymond Bailey, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“The direct support role is very interesting and rewarding. I enjoy being able to care for the people we serve as if they were part of my own family. We like being active, so we enjoy going for walks, playing basketball, and going to the gym. We also like visiting the local farms to watch the animals.”

September 18

DSP of the Day: Christine Ritchie, NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“My cousin grew up being shuffled from institution to institution due to poor living conditions, improper care and neglect. After adopting my daughter, I desired a job with more flexibility. I often thought about my cousin during this time and soon began a new career working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, which eventually led me to NeuroRestorative. I work as a DSP because I believe everyone deserves quality care, dignity, respect, compassion and empathy, as well as the same rights and privileges as people without a disability.”


September 17

DSP of the Day: Aleia Smith, REM Indiana

“I choose to work in this field because I love taking care of people. Making sure that the people we serve achieve their goals and are happy, brings joy to me. One of my favorite outings was during the Fourth of July. We went to see the fireworks and they all loved every minute of the show.”


September 16

DSP of the Day: Max Wildman, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“I have been with The MENTOR Network for over six years and the direct support role is very meaningful and rewarding. I love to interact with the individuals we serve and I love to help in any way I can. My favorite outings include going to football games and concerts together, but I enjoy spending time with the individuals we serve doing anything they choose to do.”


September 15

DSP of the Day: Sierra Garcia, REM Ohio

“I choose to work in a direct support role because it is a very rewarding job and I love working with the individuals we serve. I enjoy being able to teach them new things, such as cooking new recipes and budgeting their money so they can save for things they want. I also love taking them on new adventures. We enjoy exploring the reservoir and we recently celebrated Be Kind to Humankind Week by delivering goody bags to people in our community. The individuals I support loved making the goody bags and it made them so happy to make others smile.”


September 14

DSP of the Day: Yasha Huggins, South Carolina MENTOR

“I truly care for the people we serve. Not only are we able to care for them, but we are able to let them know someone is there for them to give support and love. Our favorite outings include car rides, playing in the park, and grocery shopping.”


September 13

DSP of the Day: Cathy Stanford, REM Mississippi

“I enjoy the time I spend with the individuals we support. I love being able to show them things that they may have never experienced before. I especially enjoy our trips to the mall and seeing their eyes light up when they see all the different stores.”


September 12

DSP of the Day: Joseph Pirt, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“I choose to work in a direct support role because I love making a positive difference in the lives of the people we serve by showing them the love, kindness and respect they deserve. My role is to help them reach their goals and work toward greater independence. I especially enjoy going to the park, shopping and out to eat with them, and just seeing them happy out in the community.”


September 11

DSP of the Day: Yolanda Smith, Arizona MENTOR

“I enjoy helping others and assisting the people we support with everyday living skills such as cooking, cleaning and self care. We especially enjoy going out in the community together. Our trips to the zoo are my favorite outings because it’s always fun and gives us a chance to learn different things about the animals.”


September 10

DSP of the Day: Chiquana Hobson, REM Mississippi

“I enjoy being able to assist the individuals we support embrace their surroundings. I especially enjoy taking them to places they have never been before so that they can experience something new.”


September 9

DSP of the Day: Landon Allston, REM Minnesota

“I choose to work in the direct support role because it is so rewarding to make a positive difference in someone else’s life. The people we serve have helped me grow over the last six years, and I can’t wait to see what else we will accomplish together in the years to come.”


September 8

DSP of the Day: Alexandria Beaver, Arizona MENTOR

“I truly care about the individuals we serve and have learned so much from them through our conversations and time together. I support four individuals and I enjoy being able to advocate for them when we go to doctor visits, hearing about their weekends, and most of all I love seeing them smile when their families visit.”


September 7

DSP of the Day: Daniel Price, Pennsylvania MENTOR

“Caregivers have an enormous impact on the people we serve by simply showing how much they care. Everyone we support is different and my goal is to provide comfort to each person I serve. Building a better rapport with anyone will always produce better results. Community outings are especially important and a great opportunity for personal connections. I enjoy the fact that we can provide support for those who may experience emotional stress in public. I love the fact that I can stand by and help create confidence in someone so they may build their own relationships and become even more comfortable with their abilities and disabilities.”


September 6

DSP of the Day: Desiree Parker, Creative Home Programs, California

“I work in a direct support role because it melts my heart to see the children we serve become more independent, verbalize their wants and needs, and accomplish their goals. I also love seeing a family’s positive reactions to their child’s accomplishments and development. Out in the community, I enjoy participating in 5K walks and sensory events to support the families and children we serve, but my favorite is Special Olympics. At Special Olympics we are able to see the children we support engage with other kids and be recognized for their amazing efforts.”


September 5

DSP of the Day: April Winter, REM West Virginia

“Being a DSP is not about a job for me—it’s about improving the lives of the people we serve. I choose to work in a direct support role because I enjoy supporting the people we serve to live successful and fulfilling lives as independently as possible. Out in the community, we especially enjoy walking around and looking at the wildlife and flowers. The fresh air and exercise is something we always look forward to as a welcome break in the day.”


September 4

DSP of the Day: Macy Roberts, Indiana MENTOR

“I choose to work in the direct support role because I am able to make a difference in someone’s life. Whether that difference is big or small doesn’t matter, the important thing is that it puts a smile on my face and theirs at the end of the day. One of our favorite things to do together is to drive around the community and get ice cream—those smiles are priceless.”


September 3

DSP of the Day: Laurie Shubert, REM Minnesota

“I enjoy getting to know the people we support and assisting them in whatever they need. Coming up with new activities that they enjoy is especially rewarding. Brightening their day brightens mine!”


September 2

DSP of the Day: Ana Nunez, Creative Home Programs, California

“I get excited to see the kids that I support progress and learn in all areas of development. Being able to do this in fun and different ways is very rewarding! I recently had an outing at the local park, it was so fun to be able to help our individuals socialize and play more comfortably and freely.”


September 1

DSP of the Day: Lori Carlisle, REM Wisconsin

“I enjoy making a difference and enhancing the lives of the people we serve. To support individuals as they work on their life skills and to see their “aha moments” when they successfully reach their goals always puts a smile on my face. Over the past few months, while the day program I usually work at was closed due to the pandemic, I have been working in our residential programs. It’s been wonderful to spend time working with the individuals to improve their life skills. I’m surprised by all they’ve learned and accomplished in such a short time. We’ve also enjoyed managing the day center garden together and sharing the results of our hard work with other homes by dropping off vegetables to them, bringing a little summer joy to everyone. Once the virus is lifted, I look forward to taking my experience here and using it to improve upon learnings at the day center.”