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 honor of Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, beginning September 11—The MENTOR Network is proud to celebrate our DSPs and other employees in a direct support role throughout the month of September. Each day we’re recognizing one of our remarkable DSPs. 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: Jesus Cardenas

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Direct Support Professional
Cole Vocational Services, California

“I enjoy being able to work directly with clients and dealing first hand with situations, being creative and building relationships. I also enjoy finding new activities for them in the community and encouraging them to participate in seasonal events—Halloween is our favorite.”

September 29: Rae Rankin

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Direct Support Professional
Transitional Services, Inc., Indiana

“I really enjoy working one-on-one with the clients out in the community and assisting them in their everyday living needs. Their accomplishments bring so much joy to me.  Some of our favorite things to do out in the community include volunteer work, shopping and community events.”

September 28: Jordan Koerner

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I enjoy being able to be a part of my clients’ personal and physical growth, and being someone my clients trust and rely on.”

September 27: Guillermo Rodriguez

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Direct Support Professional
Cole Vocational Services, California

“The thing I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is the impact I have on the individuals I work with—whether it is helping them improve their reading skills, job searches or money management skills.  When out in the community, we love to keep active through fitness walks, sports, hikes or looking for jobs.  We also enjoy spending time at the library looking up music and movies.”

September 26: Sandra Dietz

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Direct Support Professional
REM West Virginia

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is working with clients who really need me. One of my favorite things to do out in the community with them is to have a picnic in the park.”

September 25: Ninous Tawar-Alkuba

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Direct Support Professional
Cole Vocational Services, California

“It is rewarding to work with the individuals we support.  I enjoy helping them and encouraging them to do more by keeping them happy and engaged in activities. We dance so they can have fun while exercising. We also go to volunteer sites. They learn job skills and work on customer service skills, but most of all they teach us more than we teach them.”

September 24: Dawn Carignan

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I look forward to going to work every day. My enjoyment comes from the women who live in the home where I work. It’s incredibly rewarding and joyful watching them overcome obstacles that they thought were impossible to overcome. I also enjoy going out into the community with them, taking walks, shopping or getting a coffee—these things that may seem so simple to others give the women I support confidence and light up their day. To see their smiles daily gives me great joy. I love my job as a DSP.”

September 23: Kirsten Golden

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Direct Support Professional
REM West Virginia

“The happiness and wellbeing of the individuals I serve makes my job enjoyable, even on the tough days.  I enjoy taking them out in the community and letting them choose what they would like to do. Day-to-day we enjoy different activities together and each individual gets the opportunity to choose what he or she would like to do each day, which I feel gives them the opportunity to really express themselves.”

September 22: Elizabeth Coble

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Direct Support Professional
Cole Vocational Services, California

“I enjoy helping another person meet the everyday goals and challenges they face. I feel like it causes me to grow as a person—to be patient and love unconditionally.  Each person has his or her unique qualities and I’ve learned how important it is to encourage the individuals we support, challenge them, and let them know they can do it! I’ve been blessed with how much they appreciate my help and guidance. I also enjoy working with other DSPs and love seeing how each one brings something unique to the team.”

September 21: Mike Black

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Direct Support Professional
MENTOR Maryland

“I would say the thing I enjoy the most about working in a direct support role is interacting with the children who we serve.  I supervise the visits with the biological families and seeing the smiles and happiness when they get to be together is rewarding.”

September 20: Tammy Stangeland

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is working with a variety of people, assisting them in their daily lives, and helping then achieve their goals.  Out in the community, one of my favorite things is seeing their faces light up when they see someone they know.”

September 19: Bobbi West

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Life Skills Trainer
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“My favorite part of working in a direct support role is getting to be a part of our participants’ recovery. We aren’t always able to see their progress when you compare week to week, but when you look back at where they were months and years ago it’s amazing to see all that they have accomplished. I love getting to be a part of that.”

September 18: Dave Clark

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Direct Support Professional
REM Iowa

“My biggest joy is watching the guys I support become more independent in everyday chores, like bathing and cooking, and seeing them interact more smoothly with staff and each other.  Recently, we had a great outing looking at Elk and a newborn white buffalo calf.  We then went to a restaurant and received compliments about how courteous our group was.”

September 17: Kirsten Kurtz

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Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“My favorite part of being a DSP is seeing the growth in the individuals. The best thing in the world is seeing how much a person has learned and the pride they take in doing things on their own and being independent.  Last year, one of the individuals I support went to Jurassic Quest for the first time. It was one of my favorite outings we have had and I’m so happy that we are able to do it again this year. It’s a wonderful learning experience and great to see him light up when he gets to experience one of his favorite things come to life.”

September 16: Colleen Schwartzenberger

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Direct Support Professional
REM Wisconsin

“What enjoy most about working in a direct support role is helping the individuals we support when they need it and encouraging them so that they may be able to do more without it.”

September 15: George Dalton

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Life Skills Trainer
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is seeing the individuals we support grow beyond their thoughts of ‘I can’t’ to those of ‘I can.’  I especially like helping them in their workplace—there you see them shine as they interact with their coworkers.”

September 14: Caci Estlick

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Direct Support Professional
REM Iowa

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is helping the individuals we support and seeing the smiles on their faces when they accomplish something on their own or with little help. It’s the little things that show you are doing a good job.”

September 13: Kaye Hill

Kaye Hill Photo_FINAL for website

Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I enjoy assisting the individuals I support in accomplishing the goals they have set for themselves; watching them thrive in areas that used to be difficult for them; and learning something new about them every single day. One of the individuals enjoys feeding the ducks and geese at a local pond near his house. The pure joy on his face as he watches the geese run for the bread is heartwarming.”

September 12: Delores Moore

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Life Skills Trainer
NeuroRestorative Michigan

“What I enjoy about working as a life skills trainer is the team effort involved in improving the lives of others and the impact we make in the lives of those we serve as they move to greater independence.”

September 11: Skye Ruse

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Direct Support Professional
REM Iowa

“I love the individuals we support and the joy they bring to my life. I take pride in working with them and treat them as a part of my family. They are an important part of our community too and I love helping them be better at everyday challenges. I enjoy taking them out to lunch, to the library and on occasion to the movies. My favorite trip recently was to the gardens in Ames and lunch at Hickory Park.  They loved the Lego sculptures and eating at a new restaurant.”

September 10: Lukas Meyer

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“Getting to see people better their lives and knowing that I help to make a difference each day is something I’ll never take for granted. Working in this field definitely teaches you a lot about yourself (patience too) and really brings out the best in a person. Community outings with the guys are the best—we walk through parks, see movies, adventure downtown, go to sporting events, dance at the dam and watch concerts, but disc golfing is by far my favorite activity, hands down.”

September 9: Emily Naniot

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Direct Support Professional
REM Iowa

“It is an honor to witness our clients achieving their goals and to see their smiles after accomplishing something they thought they couldn’t. I smile every day at work. Lately we have been involving ourselves in the Pokemon Go craze, participating with other members of our community in a fun environment!”

September 8: Lawanda Williams

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I enjoy seeing the individuals we support happy and working towards their goals. Some individuals and I like going to Avant Garden. They have an open mic time and anyone can participate by singing, reciting a poem, or playing a musical instrument. Individuals get to enjoy themselves and socialize with members of the community.”

September 7: Danielle Hersch

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Direct Support Professional
REM North Dakota

“I enjoy working as a DSP because I like helping the individuals we support have the best possible life. As much as I do for them they do even more for me.  I think of the individuals we support and my coworkers as family.  Recently we participated in the city parade. It was fun to throw candy and see how much the people we support enjoyed taking an active role in the celebration.”

September 6: Justin Burton

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Direct Support Professional
NeuroRestorative Kentucky

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is seeing the progress made in the rehab process. I also enjoy helping people reintegrate back into the community and seeing the joy they get from talking to people and telling their story about how far they have come and all they have achieved.”

September 5: Amy Willis

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Direct Support Professional
REM Wisconsin

“I enjoy working with my team and the individuals we support. I especially like when we work together to encourage the individuals we support to try new things.  Sometimes it’s a simple outing.  I enjoy taking one new client shopping because she enjoys it and it’s something no one ever did with her before she came here.”

September 4: Ruben Oseguera

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Direct Support Professional
Cole Vocational Services, California

“I enjoy working with the individuals we serve and seeing them achieve their goals.  I enjoy watching them come to our program with big smiles on their faces ready to have a great day. I enjoy being part of their everyday lives and helping them progress with their vocational skills so they become more independent. And I love sharing my passion for art with them and working together with them to express their feelings on a canvas. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”

September 3: Sarah Brehmer

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy about working in a direct support role is the challenge, making the clients happy, and watching them overcome obstacles.  Lately, we have been going on picnics and we recently took the guys we support to a music festival.  It was a lot of work, but great to see them all smile and have a good time.”

September 2: Victoria DeSimone

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Direct Support Professional
Pennsylvania MENTOR

“The ladies I support are awesome and I love to see them smile when they reach their goals—it’s so rewarding and the best healing medicine we have!  We do so many things in the community together and I try to take them on vacation every year. Last year we went to Virginia Beach. We took a boat ride out on the ocean to see dolphins. This year, we are going to a concert in Ohio. Look out Beach Boys here we come! The ladies are so pumped up for it!”

September 1: Heather Cochran

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Direct Support Professional
REM Minnesota

“I like working with the individuals we support and having them see me more as family and not as an employee, because this is not a job to me and it is home to them. I like the relationships I have built and being able to see the impact I make on their life daily. The laughs that we have on outings are contagious—you cannot help but laugh with them.”