STAATSBURG, N.Y. -- For organization's like Staatsburg's Anderson Center for Autism, staff members who have the title of direct support professionals -- or DSPs -- are both valued and vital to the quality of life of the individuals that Anderson serves, and the Anderson Center is working to show it.
Sept. 11-17 is Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week and the Anderson Center wants to show its gratitude to the more than 500 dedicated, hard-working DSPs who make community living possible for individuals with disabilities.
"We want everyone in our communities to know and appreciate the work of our amazing DSPs," said Eliza Bozenski, director of the Anderson Foundation.
"That's why we were happy to team with iHeartMedia to spread the word about how our direct support professionals optimize the quality of life of each of the individuals in Anderson's child and adult programs."
iHeart Media will present its "Heart Award" to a direct support professional from those nominated by their peers at Anderson. The Heart Award will be presented at the Anderson Center for Autism Staff Recognition Dinner, which will be held at the Grandview in Poughkeepsie on Sept. 8.
The winner will receive a prize worth approximately $1,000.
Bozenski said that a number of Anderson staff have recorded commercials to be aired on the radio, which show "just how much heart our DSPs put into their work and how their work optimizes the quality of life of individuals in Anderson programs."
"Anderson has taught me that we don't serve autistic children," Greg Semexant said. "We empower individuals, who happen to have autism. There's a big difference and Anderson has educated me on that value."
Victoria Calderon expressed her passion for her role at Anderson.
"I feel as though I have optimized the quality of life of the individuals we serve by helping them become more independent and by giving them the assistance they need to really have the same childhood as any other child," she said. "I make sure they are not discriminated against by their diagnosis of autism and can still have fun with everything they do."