Join our team and find your passion!
This Week’s “Employee Spotlight” shines brightly on Diamond Choute. Diamond is a Direct Support Professional III in our Day Services program in New City, New York.
Diamond Choute, DSP III Day Services, LEAP program
“ One of the many reasons Jawonio is so special to me, is in knowing that when I come to work I can be myself."
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Spring Valley, NY. I attended Spring Valley High School and graduated in 2016. Following that I went to cosmetology school.
One of your high school activities has a direct connection with the people you support at Jawonio, is that right?
Yes that’s right. During high school, one of my teachers told me about a community service opportunity working with students with special needs. She was great. I suppose she saw something in me and asked if I would be interested in helping some of the students during school hours. My community service activities included simple yet meaningful experiences such as reading books together, sharing what we had in common, helping them if they asked, and most especially we became friends. So, three years later, I walk into the Jawonio and I walked into day program and all of a sudden I look around the room and see individuals in their activities and I look around, and then I saw some of those same friends I supported in high school. When we saw each other – they were so happy to see me and I felt the same way. Can you believe that?
That is amazing! So in 2019, you applied for one of our Direct Support Professional positions. Tell us about your career track and where you are today?
In 2019, I began working in residential services at the Johansen Home. That same year, I left New York for a short time, but then came back to work at Jawonio. During COVID, I worked in all of the homes and went to work wherever I was needed. In 2022, I transferred to the LEAP program in Jawonio Day Services. I am proud to say I was the first DSP in the LEAP program (Lifelong Experiences Academic Program) which supports six great young men with autism. These individuals not only participate in this specialized program together, but they also live together at our Rustic Home which is great.
When you think about where you were as the first DSP hired into this very unique program, does anything stand out for you? And what are you most proud of so far?
I have many stories that hold a great place in my heart. I think the most important thing to me is seeing the progress those in my care have made. When I think about what their behaviors were like when we first started to where we are now, that stands out for me. I watch with pride in seeing how their behaviors have decreased, and that they are definitely living a more independent life which is the goal and mission of Jawonio.
Your pride is a perfect example of the passion and commitment you have in service to the people we support. What is it about Jawonio that makes it special for you, and what would you tell others?
You can learn something new every day. I am strengthening the bonds I have created with the individuals more and more each day. I enjoy having inside jokes with them – that’s special. What makes the program special is our staff. I love that our team allows each individual to choose what activities they would like to do each day. And it is truly special working at Jawonio, which is why, for the people I work with now, or those who are thinking about applying for a position here I would tell them this: If you are really IN IT at Jawonio, you can really FEEL IT. One of the many reasons Jawonio is so special to me, is in knowing that when I come to work I can be myself.
Finally, is there any one lesson or "aha moment" that motivates you at Jawonio or in your life?
Yes there is. When I was about four years old my mother wanted me to learn to tie my shoes on my own and all I wanted was for her to do it. I would get easily frustrated and angry and I cried… a lot. For all of the times I couldn’t get it, she simply said, “keep trying” so that’s what I did. On the day I finally got them tied, I ran to show her I did it, and then she said, “See…you did it on your own”. What my mom was teaching me in that moment was how to persevere. I will always be grateful to her for that lesson and I have learned to use that to motivate me in my work at Jawonio and in my life.
A big shout out to Diamond Choute! Thank you for sharing your passion and dedication to the people we support and for being yourself!! We would also like to acknowledge Juli Rose-Alayon, Day Habilitation Supervisor in Rockland, for submitting Diamond as a featured employee in our Jawonio blog post this week.