The American Network of Community Options and Resources recently recognized J. Stephen Oates of Potomac Center Inc. in Romney as the 2013 Direct Support Professional of the Year for West Virginia.
"We at Potomac Center are proud of Stephen. This award shows the dedication he has to support people with disabilities and reflects the quality of services provided by Potomac Center," said Chief Executive Officer James E. "Rick" Harshbarger.
Direct support professionals - also referred to as caregivers, personal assistants and direct care or homecare aides - provide a rich mosaic of daily support services for the many Americans with disabilities. These DSPs are integral in helping people with disabilities participate in their communities and lead full and independent lives.
Potomac Center employees attending the DSP National Recognition Ceremony at the L’Enfant Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 30 are, from left, Karen Fisher, human resources officer; Kim Helmstetter, chief operations officer; Stephen Oates, recipient; James E. ‘Rick’ Harshbarger, chief executive officer; and Patty Plummer, chief financial officer. Not pictured is Ryan Mullan, residential manager of Group Homes, who also attended the entire ANCOR Conference with Oates.
"Most Americans are not aware of the critical work DSPs do every day and the essential role they play in the social and economic life of communities across the country," said Dave Toeniskoetter, president of ANCOR. "We want to make sure DSPs like Stephen are recognized for the difficult but inspiring work they do every day."
"DSPs are on the front lines supporting people with disabilities and ensuring those individuals are granted full inclusion in their communities," said Renee Pietrangelo, CEO of ANCOR. "It is absolutely essential that individuals, like Stephen are given the recognition and respect they deserve."
ANCOR's Direct Support Professional Recognition Award is given to those who personify the values of ANCOR's National Advocacy Campaign, which works to ensure a well-trained and sustainable direct support workforce. Nominees are judged on the work they've done to build social networks, substantive community participation and advocating for the people they serve.