NATIONAL ASSOCIATION AWARDS ANNUAL HONOR TO ORONO RESIDENT
By Rich Romero
Community Supports Supervisor
OHI, Hermon – A national trade organization recognized an Orono resident as the 2012 Direct Support Professional of the Year for Maine on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
Jessica Emerson, a DSP with OHI, received her award along with the other 49 state winners during the American Network of Community Options and Resources annual conference and ceremony in the nation’s capital.
Emerson, 25, is a 2008 graduate of Colby College and a 2011 graduate of the University of Maine, Orono. She earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and history from Colby College and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Maine. Her parents, Dorrit and Tony Emerson, live in Brooks, Maine.
“OHI is proud of Jessica’s recognition,” said Bonnie-Jean Brooks, OHI president and chief executive officer. “This honor is a reflection of Jessica’s commitment to supporting people with disabilities and the quality of services provided by OHI.”
Often referred to as caregivers, personal assistants and direct care or homecare aides, DSPs provide daily support services for millions of Americans with disabilities. Thanks to DSPs, people with disabilities are able to lead independent lives and be active participants in their communities, according to Brooks.
“DSPs are an essential element of the social and economic life in communities throughout the country,” said Wendy Sokol, ANCOR president. “It is important that we recognize these individuals, like Jessica, who give so much every day to our families, our friends, our neighbors.”
The ANCOR Direct Support Professional Recognition Award is judged on criteria in concert with the overall philosophy of ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign. Among other criteria, nominees are judged on their effectiveness in building social networks; meaningful and productive participation in the community for the people they serve; and advocating or effecting change on behalf of people with disabilities, Sokol explained..
“This year’s national and state DSPs of the Year were chosen from among 212 nominations of highly qualified professionals,” said Renee Pietrangelo, ANCOR CEO. “Jessica’s consistent commitment to improving people’s access to and engagement in the community deserves public recognition as well as our utmost regard and respect.”
A local ceremony for family, friends, OHI employees and the people they support takes place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 23 in the Eagle’s Club in Brewer.
“At OHI, we have a two-fold purpose; to offer people with disabilities — mental illness, intellectual disabilities, co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders or all three — the opportunity to make life choices and set their own goals, and then to provide the resources they need to work toward those goals,” explained Brooks. “Our system of support includes everything from community integration services and case management to residential services and help with daily living skills, and housing.”
ANCOR is a national trade association representing more than 800 private providers of community living and employment supports and services to more than 400,000 people with disabilities. As a nonprofit organization, ANCOR addresses the needs and interests of private providers before Congress and federal agencies, advocating for the role private providers play in enhancing and supporting the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
Through its National Advocacy Campaign, ANCOR seeks to obtain the resources to recruit, train and retain a sustainable direct support workforce. ANCOR provides organization, professional, leadership development and networking opportunities and services and is continually working toward partnerships and collaborations that advance its vision, mission and goals. Its prime goal is to be the indispensable leader, resource and advocate for a diverse private disability services network that ensures full citizenship and engaged community participation for people of all ages with disabilities. For more information about the DSP workforce, visit www.youneedtoknowme.org. For more information about ANCOR, visit www.ancor.org.