Recognizing our DSP staff and career opportunities
Recognizing our DSP staff and career opportunities
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DSP WEEK: A Message from our CEO
Since starting in 1970, People Inc. has worked hard to support individuals with disabling conditions or other special needs in participating and succeeding in an accepting society. Our nearly 4,000 employees know this mission well, including our direct support professionals (DSPs), who serve as aides, advisors and advocates to individuals on a daily basis.
In honor of these incredible employees, whose work is at the core of everything we do, People Inc. is once again celebrating DSP Week! This nationally-observed week, which falls during September 9-15 this year, is a time to recognize these professionals for the valuable contributions they provide to our community.
DSPs are often the first to respond to medical needs and balance responsibilities like cooking, transportation and helping people make fulfilling and safe choices. Supporting people around the clock in this way can be very challenging at times. Yet, through it all, our DSPs put those in their care before themselves, encouraging and empowering them to explore their talents, overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. Things I learned as a DSP helped in every job I’ve had here.
Please join me in recognizing these dedicated employees, this week – and year round! If you would like to express your appreciation, click here to submit a note. Comments will be shared in People Inc.’s employee newsletter in upcoming weeks.
Rhonda Frederick
President and CEO, People Inc.
15 DSPs Selected to Receive Awards
For the fourth year in a row, People Inc. accepted award nominations to highlight our dedicated staff in recognition of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Week. Fellow staff members, people we serve, parents and family members submitted nominations for DSPs whom they thought deserved recognition and have also demonstrated our agency’s values.
This year’s 90 submissions illustrated the selflessness our DSPs show each day and the important role they play in serving those who need their help most.
While all the nominations were amazing, 15 staff members were selected to receive a $1,000 award. To view a list of the honorees, click here. Thank you to everyone who took time to submit nominations and congratulations to our winners!
Deon Puts People First
Deon McDougald joined the People Inc. family in 2015, and he can’t imagine being anywhere else. A respite instructor at People Inc.’s Buffalo Afternoon Respite, Deon prepares afterschool programs and activities for young adults with developmental disabilities and assists them with their daily needs.
Recently, one of the program participants expressed an interest in getting her driver’s permit. Although the participant uses a wheelchair and has some physical limitations, she often talked about wanting to drive. Deon, determined to help her achieve her goal, worked closely with the student, picking up a driver’s manual and creating a study guide for her. She then spent several hours looking over the materials and went to the DMV the following day to take the test. Thanks to Deon’s encouragement and lots of dedication, she passed!
These kinds of personal connections make the job worthwhile for Deon. “It’s very engaging and you get to interact with many different people with different personalities,” he said.
To those considering a job as a DSP at People Inc., Deon encourages them to give it a try. “It’s so diverse and totally different from any other job I’ve experienced,” he explained. “Anybody would love to work for People Inc.”
The Future is Bright for Mecca
A student working towards becoming a physical therapist, Mecca Cook thought being an IRA specialist at People Inc. would help her get her foot in the door. Turns out, her job has done so much more. Now four years in, Mecca has had the opportunity to work closely alongside many people, helping each move closer to their life goals and dreams.
Supervisor Christian Jones shared that Mecca has helped many people feel more confident when advocating for themselves. “Mecca is very patient and understanding towards the individuals,” Christian said. “The work ethic and communication skills Mecca expresses are essential to the job. She is an inspiration to us all.”
What’s more, Mecca has also been able to prepare for her future career. “This job has taught me a lot about how to interact with medical professionals,” she said. Taking residents to appointments has opened her up to communicating with doctors, nurses and hospitals – all professionals she will encounter as a physical therapist. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for Mecca!
Merik Makes a Difference
Merik Goma has worked at People Inc. for the past six years. A primary care instructor, he loves his job providing one-on-one support to an individual at one of our day programs. Each and every day, he strives to be supportive and flexible. What Merik likes the most is that no two days are the same – the work “keeps him on his toes.”
Merik’s manager, Stacy Bigelow, describes him as a great team player who is dedicated and hardworking. “He is more than willing to go above and beyond to help out where needed to support the site,” she shared.
Merik enjoys seeing those he works with grow and express themselves. “This job is such a rewarding experience to be a part of,” he said. “It is life changing.”
Dan Noonan is Never Going to Pass You By
Former teacher of children with autism, Dan Noonan, has found a terrific way to put his past experience and skillset to good use on a daily basis. Serving as a direct support professional for one of People Inc.’s Community Habilitation Programs, this retired veteran and humble man has been a part of People Inc. for the past three and a half years. Not only does he work in Community Habilitation, he also picks up hours in People Inc.’s North Chili-based group homes to help fill in staffing gaps on a weekly rotation.
According to his colleagues, Dan is a great teacher and advocate who imparts life skills and encourages the people he works with to advocate for themselves in the community and during meetings where decisions about their lives are being made. For him, it is all about the individual and not about himself. He likes connecting with people, pointing out that each has something to teach him.
Dan consistently strives to motivate program participants through planning activities that are meaningful to them. Whether it’s encouraging healthy food choices and exercise or helping individuals with organizational skills and shopping, Dan continually inspires the people he works with by demonstrating respect and implementing daily challenges for personal growth, while empowering them to make good life choices.
Supervisor Jeannine Adydan shared that Dan uses verbal encouragement to build participants’ self-esteem and finds ways to increase their preferred learning styles, enhancing personal success. “Dan takes the time to listen, which gives him the opportunity to understand different perspectives,” she said.
Dan’s attitude plays a significant role in his success. He shared lyrics to a song that he always remembers while he’s working with an individual: “Never too busy. Never in a hurry. Never going to pass you by. Always going to take the time to see about you.”
Become a DSP
People Inc., a multispecialty non-profit health and human services agency, provides services to more than 12,000 individuals throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester region. As a result, we have exceptional opportunities for numerous career paths, whether you are looking to work part or full time. There are many career openings, including behavior technicians, community-based instructors, direct support professionals and respite instructors, along with LPNs and RNs. To apply or to view all of our openings, click here.
Featured Job of the Month: Community-Based Instructor
People Inc. is currently hiring a full time community-based instructor to provide instruction and supervision to individuals participating in the Community Services Program, including Community Habilitation. The community-based instructor works with individuals in their own homes and in the community to increase their independence in activities of daily living. The candidate must have a valid New York State Driver’s License that meets agency policy and have CPR certification, among other requirements. To apply for this employment opportunity, click here. To learn about other available jobs, click here.
Support Rivershore Foundation Annual Dinner
The Rivershore Foundation will host its annual dinner to benefit the Hinman Street apartment project in Youngstown, NY, which will support people with disabilities to live independently. The event includes a cocktail hour, gourmet dinner and an opportunity to bid on high- end auction items. The Rivershore Foundation supports People Inc. programs for people living with developmental disabilities in Niagara County.

When: Wednesday, September 26
Where: Niagara Falls Country Club, 505 Mountain View Drive, Lewiston, NY
Info: For details on costs, click here or for information, contact Melanie Brown at or 716.817.7450.
Your generosity throughout the year ensures that people with developmental disabilities, special needs and older adults receive the services they need. Making a monetary or in-kind donation, volunteering your time or supporting special events for the People Inc. Foundation are just some of the ways you can help. Often times, friends and family wish to remember someone through a memorial or acknowledge a special occasion, such as a birthday or anniversary. The People Inc. Foundation accepts gifts of caring and honors requests in a sincere, dignified manner. To make a donation, click here (include details in the note section of the online form). We appreciate your support!
Academy Place Senior Apartments Accepting Applications
Academy Place Senior Apartments in Gowanda, NY, managed by People Inc., is now accepting apartment applications. Located at 1 School Street in Gowanda, NY, the complex provides HUD Section 202 Affordable Housing and New York State Tax Credit apartments. If you have a family member or work with an older adult who may be interested in these apartments, please share this information. The apartments provide affordable and safe housing for independent older adults age 62 and up who meet the federally mandated household income guidelines. Apartment tours will be provided throughout October on Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Monthly rent is based on the tenant’s income, which includes some utilities. The building consists of 28 one-bedroom units and four two-bedroom units; some of which have been specifically designed for individuals who are vision/hearing impaired. Apartments include a kitchen with appliances. A community room and laundry facilities are available on each floor. Additionally, storage and a 24-hour on-call emergency service are provided. Tenants may have one small pet.

For more information about Academy Place Senior Apartments or for an apartment application for one of our other People Inc. Senior Living locations located throughout Western New York, email or call 716.817.9090.
Emergency Preparedness is for Everyone
Join the Erie County Office for the Disabled, the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and the Museum of disABILITY History for “Emergency Preparedness is for Everyone!” This informational event, held on Wednesday, September 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, is an opportunity for people of all abilities to learn how to plan for emergencies. The event is free to attend; RSVPs are encouraged. To reserve your spot or request accommodations, call 716.858.6215.
Educational Outreach
Headway of WNY, an affiliate of People Inc., offers specially-tailored educational presentations at schools and community centers throughout Western New York. Headway of WNY assists people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and their families address life-altering situations related to TBI and other cognitive disabilities. To schedule a presentation for your group, contact or call 716.408.3100.