The MENTOR Network

DSP of the Week 2018

At The MENTOR Network, we believe that our Direct Support Professionals—who help carry out The Network’s mission every day—should be valued, supported and recognized for a job well done. Congratulations to all of our DSPs of the Week from 2018.

Become a DSP
December 31, 2018

Ashley Velasquez

Direct Support Professional
MENTOR Oregon

“I enjoy everything about my role at MENTOR Oregon! I love being a part of the journey to independence for the individuals we serve. Every day that I am teaching, I am also learning so much from the people I work with. I really enjoy being out in the community with the individuals we serve and I frequently encourage them to do things out in town. I really like the times that we go to the animal shelter, the park, or just go window shopping around town. It’s a lot of fun to watch the individuals we serve interact with community members!”

December 24, 2018

Makayla Peterson

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I enjoy building relationships with the people we serve and seeing them succeed in their goals. I especially enjoy going bowling with two of the individuals we serve—we have a fun and friendly competition each time.”

December 17, 2018

Kelsie Bride

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative, Iowa

“I enjoy the relationships I have formed with the individuals I serve. It is so rewarding to walk into work and see them smile and say hello. The Individuals brighten my day just as much as I brighten theirs. My favorite activities to do with them include playing cards, cooking, watching movies and going on walks. Besides group outings, I enjoy taking the individuals I serve on personal outings. I think personal outings give you a chance to strengthen your relationship with the individual.”

December 10, 2018

Jessica Klatt

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“I enjoy knowing that I am making a positive impact on someone’s life.”

December 3, 2018

Téa McConkey

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I love working with the kids we serve—they are so much fun and always full of joy!  I take one of the individuals we serve to church activities once a week.  It’s great to see her interact with others and partake in the activities with her.”

November 26, 2018

Camina Vance

Direct Support Professional
REM West Virginia

“I enjoy helping others with their everyday lives and seeing them succeed and meet their goals.  Getting the individuals we serve out of the house and interacting in the community is always a wonderful thing to witness.  Recently, I took one of the individuals to a park and we met up and played mini golf with another individual we serve.”

November 19, 2018

Jeremy Donica

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is the delight in the eyes of the individuals we serve when they see me and knowing that I help make their days better.  I enjoy everything I do in the community with them due to their delight in being able to go out and have fun.”

November 13, 2018

Katrina Shutes

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy about working in a direct support role is coming to work every day and making a difference in someone else’s life. There is such happiness just knowing the love when you walk through the doors of their homes.”

November 5, 2018

Allison Owens

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“Being able to see the specific improvements and achievements in each person we serve makes my life better day by day.  My favorite thing to do in the community is to go to Miracle League to support the people we serve as they play baseball. Almost every one of the individuals I support is there, so I can spend time helping them and enjoy the day with them and staff outside of my normal work environment.”

 

October 29, 2018

Jalisa Lee

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative, Illinois

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is interacting and building relationships with the children we serve. I also like to see the progress in the children’s behavior and academic skills. On a recent outing we visited Cedar Lake. It was fun to see the participants in a different environment enjoying their free time from school work and being in the homes.”

October 22, 2018

Christina Schnabel

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I love taking care of the individuals we serve and getting to know them. I especially like taking them on outings in the community. It makes them so happy and it seems we always find out new things the individuals like when we’re out with them.”

October 15, 2018

Tasha Miller

Direct Support Professional
REM West Virginia

“I enjoy helping the people we serve and learning from them. I also enjoy helping other staff. Out in the community, we like to go to parks, the mall and out for drives.”

October 8, 2018

Brittni Ekholm

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative, New Hampshire

“I enjoy being able to work one on one with such amazing people every day. They have helped me to grow as a human being, and have helped me in so many more ways than I think I have helped them! I love seeing each of them grow and the pride they have in themselves with each accomplishment. I love taking them on their personal outings, and being able to spend some true one-on-one time with each of them. It is so fun to bring them out and to do things they love doing.”

October 1, 2018

Krystal Cole

Direct Support Professional
Cole Vocational Services, CA

“Working as a direct support professional has been the most rewarding experience. I’m able to make a positive impact every day and give myself to others. When we’re out in the community we especially enjoy going to the library. There are books with anything they are interested in, magazines and movies to check out or to enjoy while there.”

August 27, 2018

Ruthie Cross

Direct Support Professional
REM West Virginia

“I enjoy working with the people we serve. They always bring a smile to my face. It’s especially fun when we go to the park, because they love being outside.”

August 20, 2018

Emily Blacknik

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I enjoy the relationships I have formed with each individual I support. The individuals always bring a smile to my face and I love being able to be a helping hand or friend when needed. Whenever we go out, they never fail to start a conversation with someone by asking how they are or how their day is going.”

August 13, 2018

Liliana Graciano

Direct Support Professional
First Step Independent Living, California

“I like working at First Step, because I enjoy putting smiles on the faces of the individuals we serve. I like to make them feel loved and appreciated—not just because they have disabilities, but because we all need to feel loved and appreciated. Out in the community, we enjoy volunteering, going to parks, bowling, movies, and out to lunch.”

August 6, 2018

Gairy Denton

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I enjoy helping the individuals I work with accomplish their dreams and goals. They brighten my day and make me feel that I have accomplished something important. I also enjoy supporting the individuals I work with to be a part of their community—to be members of their community—by helping them take part in events and social gatherings where they meet new people and make new friends.”

July 30, 2018

Samantha Jolley

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“What I enjoy most about working with the individuals we serve is being part of their daily lives, helping them learn new things, and seeing how excited they get when they master a new task. Out in the community, I especially enjoy taking them to Special Olympics practices and seeing how much fun they have. I’m excited to watch them compete in the summer games.”

July 23, 2018

Brandie Williams

Direct Support Professional
First Step Independent Living, California

“I love going out with the individual I serve to meet with other members of our community. We go to the library, City Hall and senior centers, but one of my favorite things to do is to volunteer with her.  It’s great showing the community what we do for the people we serve.”

July 16, 2018

Alyssa Lawson

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“I love the fact that I am aiding in someone’s recovery process.  It motivates me to work hard every day and keep pushing others to better themselves.”

July 9, 2018

Steven Surface-Wiehebrink

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“What I enjoy most about being a Life Skills Trainer is interacting with the participants and seeing that my job actually makes a difference in people’s lives. One of my favorite things to do with the people we serve is go to the park.  I recently went on an outing with one participant and all we did was sit on a swinging bench and talk about his life before his traumatic brain injury, music trends and life in general.  It was very therapeutic and relaxing for both of us.”

July 2, 2018

Kay Muccatira

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“What I enjoy about working in a direct support role are the relationships we develop over the years with the individuals we serve to promote individual achievements in every aspect of their lives. I have witnessed individuals build self-confidence in their abilities and finally feel like they are a part of their community.  I enjoy supporting individuals in finding and participating in community outings and activities that brings them joy. Our top 10 favorite activities include the circus, zoo, concerts, shopping, fishing, dances, Special Olympics, amusement parks, fitness centers and REM parties!”

June 25, 2018

George Dalton

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“What I enjoy most about working as a life skills trainer is seeing the people we serve learn and regain independence.  Recently, on a shopping trip one individual we serve who has been very shy asked for help from a store clerk to find an item he needed.  It was great to see that.”

June 18, 2018

Amanda Latraille

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I enjoy everything about being a DSP. I enjoy seeing the people I work with accomplish their dreams and I love being able to help make a difference in their lives any way I can. One of my favorite activities is supporting the people I work with to help others in our community. We take part in the Meals on Wheels program monthly and it is very rewarding for all of us. We also love to be outside in the parks and picnic.”

June 12, 2018

Bradley Reffitt

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“I enjoy helping the people we serve meet their goals and if they have had a bad day turning it around to make it a better one. Out in the community, I like to get coffee and run errands with them. We recently went to Walmart to shop for groceries and one of the individuals I serve was singing throughout the store. We snuck up on his roommate and he scared him. We all laughed and enjoyed ourselves.”

June 5, 2018

Sara Kowalke

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I love making a difference in the lives of the individuals we serve. Helping them accomplish their goals and achieve new things is such a rewarding feeling! I especially love going to all of the Special Olympics events with them—from weekly practices to the out of town state tournaments. They have so much fun competing and it is awesome to see them have fun no matter if they win or lose!

May 29, 2018

Cherissa Anderson

Direct Support Professional
Pennsylvania MENTOR

“I absolutely love the individuals we serve, and I’m excited for who else may come into my life as a DSP. I love how rewarding my work is. I couldn’t have asked for a better job, because it’s something I take so much pride in. I love going out to eat with them, and to the movies or YMCA. The smiles they have on their faces as they’re swimming or playing basketball makes you realize you did a good job!”

May 21, 2018

Precious Saie

Direct Support Professional
REM Ohio

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is caring for the individuals we serve. They are all wonderful to work with.”

May 14, 2018

Ashley Mullins

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“I enjoy helping the individuals we serve set goals for their unique needs and supporting them to meet those goals. I also enjoy getting out into the community with them to go fishing, socialize and enjoy fine dining and shop, so they may enjoy life to the fullest.”

May 7, 2018

Michelle Sackman

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I enjoy making sure the people we serve get to do what they enjoy and what makes them happy. Summers are always enjoyable at REM. At the day program we attend there are so many activities and events such as picnics and trips to the fair, zoo, and circus.”

May 1, 2018

Barbara Ray

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is helping an individual overcome a deficit and conquer a goal they set for themselves. There is no better feeling.”

April 23, 2018

Amanda Julian

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“By being with the individuals I serve every day, I feel as if I am a big part of their lives and that is very rewarding. They have all become like family to me.  It is so awesome to see them interact in the community and the smiles on their faces are big enough thanks for what I do daily.

 

April 16, 2018

Shane Merritt

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I love my job and what I do. Working in a direct support role allows me to assist the individuals we serve so they may reach their potential, gain independence and achieve their goals. I enjoy getting to know the people we serve, so that I may learn how best to support them. I recently had the opportunity to assist two individuals on an outing to watch the Minnesota Twins game. It was great to see all the fun they had and how much they appreciated being there.”

April 9, 2018

Katie Pretzer

Direct Support Professional
Loyd's Liberty Homes, California

“Coming into work every day and getting ‘hellos’ and all the smiles from the individuals I serve makes my job worthwhile. I love being able to take them anywhere and to advocate for them. It means so much to me when they tell me they had a great day and they are thankful I got to help them.”

April 2, 2018

Tony Moore

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“I enjoy being able to make a difference in the lives of the individuals I work with. Out in the community, one of my favorite things to do with them is to go to the park. We had doughnuts and coffee by the pond and feed the fish.”

March 26, 2018

Paige Holcomb

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“I enjoy helping the woman I support achieve new goals and get through new challenges. Taking her out to eat and to get her nails painted is one of our favorite things to do together. Just seeing her excitement and watching her enjoy herself makes each day worthwhile!”

March 19, 2018

Sammie Haider

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“The thing I most enjoy about my job is seeing the happiness in the individuals I serve and knowing I am an important part of their lives. Seeing them succeed is very fulfilling. I work in the Day Program so the individuals I serve are in the community every day. I love assisting them with what they need at their job and volunteer sites. We also do a lot of fun things like go to the state fair and potluck picnics! There is no job I’d rather have and I am very grateful to have the job I do!”

March 12, 2018

Susan Conner

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“I enjoy having conversations with the individuals we serve and helping them to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves.”

March 5, 2018

Aleia Dye

Direct Support Professional
REM Mississippi

“I really enjoy taking the individuals I have the pleasure of assisting to the Oxford Humane Society to walk the dogs. I also enjoy getting them involved in the local bowling league. They absolutely love it, and they get to socialize with others in the community who they’ve been in different workshops with and haven’t seen in a while.”

February 26, 2018

Carman Lopez

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy most about being a direct support professional is working with the individuals one on one and seeing that they are well taken care of. One of my favorite things to do is be outside with the individuals we serve in the spring and summer, enjoying the sunshine and taking care of the flowers.”

February 19, 2018

Brittany Thomas

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“I love spending time with the people I serve, helping to make their day better and learning new things about them. One of the individuals I serve recently challenged me to a bowl-off, so I’m looking forward to bowling with them soon. I also enjoy taking them shopping in the community and seeing them choose the things they want.”

February 12, 2018

Shari Goodman

Direct Support Professional
REM Iowa

“I love my job and really enjoy spending time with the individuals I serve. I love being able to do things for them and get out in the community with them to volunteer with Meals on Wheels and do whatever else they choose to do.”

February 5, 2018

Kathy Carper

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“What I enjoy most about working as a life skills trainer is being able to give positive feedback to participants and seeing their excitement as a result; being able to show them how much I care about their wellbeing; and knowing that I am able to put smiles on their faces each day.”

January 29, 2018

Laura Robinson

Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I love coming to work every morning and getting the ladies up and ready for their day. There is a lot of singing and joy, which gives my day the positive start it needs. I would not want to be working anywhere else.”

January 22, 2018

Jazmen Fox

Direct Support Professional
Indiana MENTOR

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is being able to provide my services to the individuals we serve in their home and helping them learn everyday life skills. Being a part of their lives makes it even better. I especially enjoy taking them to church so they may practice their faith with friends and loved ones.”

January 15, 2018

Tom Johnson

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I enjoy that what we do actually matters in a person’s life and that every day is different from the last. This past June, I went on a trip to Ely, MN with an individual we serve. He really likes bears, so we went to the bear center and it was fun to see how excited he was to see live bears up close. We were a couple feet from a 500 pound black bear and he had giant smile on his face!”

January 8, 2018

Kathy Miller

Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“It gives me joy to assist the individuals we serve and see the smiles on their faces when they meet their goals by walking, talking, or even washing their dishes for the first time. One of my favorite things to do with them is to go to the park and feed the ducks.”

January 1, 2018

Rachel Jacobson

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“What I love about working with the individuals we serve is being able to make their lives fulfilled with everything they love to do and being able to see them accomplish their dreams. Last year, I was able to take the individuals up to my family cabin for a night for a small camping trip in Danbury, Wisconsin and then to Duluth, Minnesota for a day. Two of the individuals had never been up to Duluth and to see their faces when the big ship came in was amazing. It made my heart feel full to be able to give them that enjoyment.”