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 this year—in honor of Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, beginning September 10—The MENTOR Network will celebrate our DSPs and other employees in a direct support role throughout the month of September. Each day we will recognize 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

DSP of the Day: Daniel Averbeck, REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role are the fun new experiences we share together. Over the past year, I have been teaching a “Paint Night” and it’s become a hit. Similar to paint bar nights held at popular restaurants, everyone gets their own easel, acrylic paint, canvas and different brushes to use. I do a demonstration of each step of the painting and help anyone as needed.  They do a great Job!  I have also facilitated music nights were I bring different instruments (hand drums, guitars, a mandolin, accordion and yes, a didgeridoo) and mindfulness classes to become relaxed, present and calm mostly through breath exercise. Everyone is so unique and there are so many talents we can all learn from, it’s been great to share mine with the people we serve.”

September 29

Sarah Hayes, NeuroRestorative, Michigan

“I enjoy working one-on-one with the individuals I serve and assisting them with activities of daily living.  I also enjoy working with my team of colleagues.  Recently, we went with several individuals we serve to the Motown Museum in Detroit.  We all liked it so much we want to visit it again.”

September 28

DSP of the Day: Alondra Gomez, Cole Vocational Services, California

“I enjoy making the individuals we serve smile and teaching them new skills. My favorite thing to do in the community is to volunteer with them and show the community their skills.”

September 27

DSP of the Day: Desirae Franz, NeuroRestorative, Pennsylvania

“I love that I get to know each individual I serve in their own way. I get to take them to volunteer all over the city and see them in a different aspect. One of my favorites is the Erie Zoo. We rake and clean up the walkways and get to see all of the animals as we work.”

September 26

DSP of the Day: Lisa Jarrard, Missouri MENTOR

“Nothing makes my job more worthwhile than seeing the person I support do something new or exciting and then give a proud smile. Facilitating their dreams make mine come true. I love going on outings that have interactive features. We recently went to an airport museum, and the individuals we serve could go inside an old airplane. It was a first for most of them, and they couldn’t stop talking about all of the cool things they learned about airplanes.”

September 25

DSP of the Day: Danielle Emkes, REM Minnesota

“I enjoy the never-ending opportunities to make a positive impact on the kiddos I serve. Watching them progress and accomplish things that people thought they’d never be able to do is so heartwarming and to be a big part of that is rewarding. The days are never the same, which provides challenges that have helped me grow as an individual and allowed me to build strong relationships with the kids. It’s amazing that these kids are able to spend hours out in the community as it was a struggle before. They have worked so hard to develop appropriate skills to be out and do the things they love and enjoy. This summer we were able to do many fun things—carnivals, parades, fairs, and water parks. One of our kiddos learned how to fish and another learned how to ride bike, which are huge milestones for them.”

September 24

DSP of the Day: Liz Fleming, NeuroRestorative, Kentucky

“I love working with the participants and helping them learn the tools and skills they need to get better and back to living independently.  Every success makes this job worth it.”

September 23

DSP of the Day: Cody Carroll, REM West Virginia

“Working with the individual I serve gives me the chance to utilize my skills. I am able to keep her calm by using grounding techniques so we can go out into the community and participate in activities with peers and new people she meets. We especially enjoy going on walks and hikes as this is very soothing to her. She also enjoys shopping and I take great pride in making sure she purchases nice clothes, gets her hair cut, and has a weekly lunch at a nice restaurant.”

September 22

DSP of the Day: Jennifer Kubiak-Miller, NeuroRestorative, Pennsylvania

“I enjoy working in a direct support role because I have seen success in individuals and it’s very rewarding to be a part of it. I love seeing the individuals I serve interact out in the community. I have seen a different side to many and have learned so much from them.”

September 21

DSP of the Day: Ashley Torres, REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is that it’s one-on-one interaction with the individuals we serve and you get to know them well. Out in the community, I enjoy walking dogs at The Humane Society with one of the individuals we serve and we recently had the pleasure of experiencing the Como Zoo and the Martin County Fair.”

September 20

DSP of the Day: Angela Hawkins, REM Iowa

“I enjoy working in a direct support role because it is an extremely rewarding experience. Being able to see the happiness on our individuals’ faces when they achieve a goal makes this position extremely enjoyable as well. Knowing that you were a part of that happiness being possible by working on their daily goals with them, among other day to day tasks, gives a sense of fulfillment that I would not be able to acquire anywhere else.”

September 19

DSP of the Day: Jaime Burke, Cole Vocational Services, California

“I enjoy volunteering in the community with the people we serve, primarily with more challenging tasks. It’s very rewarding to see them doing the work and being challenged to build their skill level. I feel like I am really doing my job when they learn. In general, I enjoy just hanging out with them and knowing I have made a difference in their lives.”

September 18

DSP of the Day: Megan Marlowe, REM Wisconsin

“Being a DSP has given me a sense of belonging. Coming to work and being greeted by someone who has missed you since the second you left is an amazing feeling. It’s the simple outings that bring the most joy to the clients in the home I work in. The days we get to spend a few hours in the park are the greatest because their faces light up and their eyes twinkle. That’s pure happiness, and that’s what I strive to see in my clients every day.”

September 17

DSP of the Day: Rayshon Willis, REM Ohio

“I love working with the guys we serve and enjoy the environment.  Another staff member and I recently took them to a festival and the guys had a ball and so did we.”

September 16

DSP of the Day: Denise Abbott, NeuroRestorative, Kentucky

“I absolutely love to see the participants succeed when trying something new or achieving goals.  One of my favorite things to do with them in the community is to visit the library, but most recently we went on a train ride at Bluegrass Railway and everyone had a great time!”

September 15

DSP of the Day: Angela Marron, California MENTOR

“I love to explore the outdoors, but it’s not the things and places I like—it’s about giving an opportunity to the people we serve and empowering them to make choices and decisions that eventually will better their lives. In a recent outing with someone we serve, we had lunch by a lake and then took a walk through the park to enjoy Mother Nature and different types of birds signing.  The individual was very happy remembering childhood walks through the park. That was something that touched my heart.”

September 14

DSP of the Day: Shawanda Knox, Delaware MENTOR

“I love the individuals we serve and providing them with the best care to support their needs.  Out in the community, I enjoy taking the individuals to the zoo, beach, park and out for lunch or dinner.”

September 13

DSP of the Day: Doris Madera, NeuroRestorative, Nevada

“I enjoy learning about the participants’ pasts and what they want to accomplish for their future to get ahead in life, and then helping them reach those goals.”

September 12

DSP of the Day: Curlie Browning, Ohio MENTOR

“What I enjoy about working as a direct support staff is that I get to help make people’s lives better and make connections that will last a lifetime. I enjoy a lot of outings with the people I support, but my favorite thing to do with them is to have cookouts simply because it makes them so happy!”

September 11

DSP of the Day: Mariazinha Pereira, Revel Adult Day Health, Massachusetts

“I enjoy making the people we serve happy, keeping them safe, and helping them be healthy and feel good about themselves.”

September 10

DSP of the Day: Michael Christensen, REM Minnesota

“What I enjoy about working at REM is gaining knowledge, understanding, and better ways to help the people we serve. Recently, I was fortunate to be invited to watch my client play in the Special Olympics softball tournament. I cheered him on as they won their last game of the tournament.”

September 9

DSP of the Day: Lee Larson, MENTOR Oregon

“The residents have become like family and I am here to help them in any way that I possibly can. One individual we serve was expressing herself with a lot of verbal outbursts. She will now talk to me, joke around with me and likes to share her music. Who knew we would like the same kind of music!”

September 8

Gina Gesino, REM Minnesota

“I enjoy the bond that is established and the trust the individuals I serve have for me. I enjoy being a mentor to them, helping them achieve goals they set for themselves and seeing the potential they have. Some of our favorite things to do in the community include going out for coffee, playing skip bo, then hitting the library to work on typing. Recently we went to the River Rats water ski show—everyone thought that was pretty cool to watch.”

September 7

Garrett Common, REM North Dakota

“I enjoy how fulfilling this career is. I love coming to work and I am proud of our work here at the end of the day. My favorite thing to do with the individuals I serve is to assist them with their community service or jobs, especially when you can tell that they are proud of themselves for doing a good job.”

September 6

Chasity Phillips, REM West Virginia

“Working in this field has made me a happier, more open minded person and I can’t see myself working any other job after this. The sense of compassion and love I feel every day I go to work just makes this more worth it every day.”

September 5

Keisha Jordan, REM Iowa

“The individuals I serve know I’m here to take good care of them because I not only tell them, but I show them.”

September 4

Dianne Martin, MENTOR Oregon

“I truly enjoy taking residents out for activities and ensuring that they have a full and happy life. It is very rewarding!”

September 3

Emelys Contreras, REM New Jersey

“What I enjoy most about working in a direct support role is the feeling you get after seeing an individual happy and being able to help them be more independent. I love seeing them smile and be proud of themselves.”

September 2

Brent Simon, Cole Vocational Services, California

“I enjoy being able to help the people we serve reach their goals. I enjoy being a part of a company that cares about their consumers and working together to make sure that the individuals’ needs are met. Some of my favorite things to do include taking the individuals to places they really want to go to and regularly like to visit. An individual I usually work with on Wednesday evenings has a favorite diner he likes to go to for coffee. Every time I’ve taken him there, the employees of the diner always greet him by his name and make him feel welcome. I feel happy for him that he has a place to go to like that.”

September 1

Asmira Cisija, REM Minnesota

“I enjoy spending quality time with the individuals we serve. They really keep me on my feet and I try my best to make sure they receive great care and are happy. Every day after supper, we go to the park to swing, walk or bike ride. On weekends that I work and one of the individuals is out with family, I take the other individual to events in the community—whether it be a county fair, bowling, nature center, downtown, at the mall or one of the parks. We sometimes go to socials and get-togethers as well.”