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DSP Celebration Week – Staff Spotlight Profiles

In honor of National Direct Support Professionals Recognition week in September, Jawonio celebrated the valuable contributions that our DSP staff make to the Jawonio Community by posting personal profiles of a few of our team.


Meet Shedlyn Bien-Amie who lives in Spring Valley, NY and works as a Direct Support Professional in Jawonio’s Without Walls (WOW) Program that prepares young people for community life and independence.  She has worked at Jawonio for 3 ½ years, the first few months in the Day Hab at Jawonio Tech, then moved over to WOW.  She has been a DSP for over 6 years.

She was inspired to join the field after the death of her grandmother who she describes as an incredibly strong person, who was always helping others and a nurse by profession.  Shedlyn was visiting with her grandmother one afternoon when she became very quiet.  As Shedlyn brushed her grandmother’s hair and chatted with her she layed down and stopped talking, and eventually stopped breathing.  She passed away in Shedlyn’s arms.  She hadn’t known at the time, but her grandmother had been seriously ill. This experience made her decide to pursue the DSP field and care for others.

She took medical assistant training and started working in Pediatrics, then moved to another agency working with adults and then to Jawonio.  Her goal was to work in a career to help others and that is just what she is doing.

“I learn from the consumers I work with every day.  It is very rewarding to be part of a team that works so well together despite differences, which is so very important.  Helping others with the things that they can’t do for themselves makes me happy.”

DSP Spotlight – APRIL COBB
Meet April Cobb who lives who lives in Garnerville, N.Y. and has worked at Jawonio for three years.  She started at the O’Neil House and now works with the Seniors Day Program as a Direct Support Professional.  What inspired her to join the field was her background in social work.  April has a Bachelor’s in Social Work and worked in the Foster Care field as a caseworker for over fifteen years.  After being laid-off, she was looking for work for a while and decided to look for a change.  That is when she came across the DSP opportunity at Jawonio.

“My background in social work has given me an understanding of how to manage people and see them as individuals with unique needs and personality.  Being able to understand where a person is coming from and what is prompting how they are behaving is important in being a DSP.”  April’s background in social work also gives her a clear understanding of service planning for each individual she works with.

Her current position at Jawonio is her first experience working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in particular seniors.  She has done a lot of training to prepare her for the work such as “SKIP” training which stands for Strategies, Crisis, Intervention, Prevention, as well as training on nutrition, medication, choke prevention, fire safety, all of the core training.  She enjoys her work with the seniors very much, “the best reward for me is helping the people I work with. I get a kick out of their personalities and interacting with them every day.  Being compassionate and non-judgmental are both very important qualities to do this work.”


Meet Jean Destine who is a Direct Support Professional at Jawonio’s Fisher House.  Jean lives in Spring Valley, N.Y. and has worked at Jawonio for over 15 years as a DSP.  Before working for Jawonio he worked for 8 years as a DSP at a DDSO.

“I chose this field because I love it.  It is interesting to work with the guys, keeping them safe and taking care of them.  I do everything I can to protect them in their environment and help them do the things they need to do on a daily basis.”  His daily routine starts 6:30am when he checks-in with the consumers he works with, helps them get ready for their day with dressing, eating breakfast, giving them medication and preparing them to go out for the day for activities, doctor’s appointments and programs.

Jean says that one of the most important things about the training for being a Direct Support Professional is learning to understand what consumers needs are and how to make them comfortable.

Meet Margaret Butler who is a Direct Support Professional at Jawonio’s Seniors Program.  Raised in Rockland County, she currently lives in Nanuet, N.Y. and has worked for Jawonio for over 20 years.  She started off as a cook at the Katzen Pre-School.  When that position ended, she needed to decide what to do next and an opportunity to work as a DSP came up.  This gave her the opportunity to stay with Jawonio.  She moved to a DSP position in the houses and eventually became a House Coordinator.  She moved over to the Seniors Program about eighteen months ago.

Her decision to pursue the DSP position originally was inspired by her relationship with the consumers.  It made her decide to stay at Jawonio and she wanted to work closely with them.

“One of the most rewarding parts of the job for me are when I am helping a consumer with an activity in the program and that consumer then does it for themselves…because they were really watching me and learning how to do it.  It feels great to see that I have taught them something and they are doing for themselves.”

There has been a lot of hands on training to prepare me for this work.  Core Training and the classroom training is important but where she’s learned the most is during hands-on training, when another staff mentor has shown her what to do.

“You really don’t know what to do until you are in a real live situation.  I am so grateful to my colleagues here at Jawonio who really helped me learn.”


DSP Spotlight - Martha Colon
Meet Martha Colon who lives in West Haverstraw New York and works at Jawonio’s Day Hab program in New City.  Martha has worked at Jawonio for over seventeen years.  She started at Moskoff House as a DSP, then moved into the Workshop program and finally into Day Hap.  She also helps cover work in the houses when needed and does home care at another community agency in the area.

She started in this career for different reasons, opportunity and caring for others being at the top of her list.  She knew it was her calling from the very beginning of working at Jawonio. She talks about the people and how everyone was so friendly and open right away when she started, from the other staff to the consumers.  The most rewarding part of her job is the interactions she has with the consumers.  “The seniors teach me so much.  They show so much love when I work with them and I get such reward from giving and helping.  You have to have it in you to give.”

Martha says that working at Jawonio is like being a part of a big family.  She says she can really count on her co-workers and supervisor every day.  There is always someone who will listen and help if you need.

Martha starts her routine each day at about 8am and usually works until 4pm.  She accompanies consumers and supports them in the community on their daily routine like trips to the store to shop for items they need and to programs.  The goal is interaction and integration in the community.

Bernadette Dorisca, originally from Nippes, Haiti currently resides in Garnerville, NY and works at Jawonio at Fisher House as a Direct Support Professional.  She has worked in this position for the past four years.  She also works as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a nursing home nearby.  When she first came to the U.S. she stayed at home raising her young son for a few years.  When she decided she wanted to go to work, she spoke to a close friend who suggested she take classes to become a Certified Nursing Aide since she was interested in the medical field and helping others.  “I like the work because I like helping people.  My main goal is to help others.”

Her day starts at 6:30am when she does her rounds and checks up on the consumers she takes care of, helps them prepare for their day with personal care such as dressing and getting breakfast.  Then the days program, lunch and taking care of the personal needs of the people she works with throughout the day.  She finishes up at 3pm.  “Jawonio is a really good place to work. It’s good because of the consumers and my co-workers.  I love the people who I work with here and I feel the love back.”  Bernadette is pictured here with Monica, resident of Fisher House.