2012dspforwebMonadnock Developmental Services marks the exceptional contributions of all direct care workers in our region and announces the selection of Shannon Merchant of Rindge as the Monadnock region’s 2012 Direct Support Professional of the Year, and Michelle Lucas of Dublin as Home Provider of the Year. These honorees are among 22 nominees from across New Hampshire for the Statewide DSP Award, to be announced in late October.

Shannon Merchant, the Monadnock Region Direct Support Professional of the Year, has worked with a woman with very challenging medical issues for more than eight years. During this time she has worked diligently to become trained in medically monitoring this person, something that is critical to her health and wellbeing. As the individual’s health needs have increased, Shannon has stayed by her side during hospitalizations, seeing to her comfort, care and safety. Over the years, Shannon has been an exemplary team member, serving as confidant, motivator, scheduler and problem solver, not only for the woman she supports but for the entire team of staff, nurses and family. “I wish there were more people like Shannon in this world and working with our individuals,” says Heather Riley, MDS Service Coordinator. Laura Eno-Kennel, Program Manager, adds: “Shannon is conscientious and caring, two qualities that are very important for a DSP.” Shannon lives in Rindge.

Home Provider of the Year Michelle Lucas, who lives in Dublin, has provided a safe and caring home for a young man with multiple disabilities for nearly eight years. Her professionalism is evident in her strong working relationships with the nursing staff, program managers and case managers. She is always ready and willing to attend medical consultations, whether these are in Keene, Boston, Exeter or Lebanon. As a home provider, Michelle has made sure that this young man is integrated completely into the life of her family. Her children, following their mother’s steps, treat him (and each other) with respect, and are empathetic and caring. As a caregiver, Michelle is a vital member of the team, listening to team members, asking thoughtful questions, and strategizing to make the support effort the best it can be. The individual’s mother reflects: “Michelle’s commitment to my son is unwavering. Her fortitude, initiative and take-charge spirit is inspirational.”

DSP Day, an annual event in New Hampshire, is intended to raise awareness about the unsung heroes in our lives, Direct Support Professionals, regular people who give others a better chance to live and the opportunity to have the best life they can. DSPs do rewarding work that touches everyone. All of us will be or will need a caregiver at some point in our lives.

For DSP Day in New Hampshire, which was celebrated on September 10, hundreds of yellow flags are flown on the State House lawn, each created to thank and honor a Direct Support Professional who has touched an individual’s life. This annual event was started by Barbara Wilson, a DSP from Keene. Friends, families, advocates and many of the DSPs and Home Providers nominated from across the state gather in Concord to recognize all DSPs in New Hampshire. The 22 nominees go on as finalists for the title of statewide for the DSP and Home Provider of the Year Awards, to be presented by the Developmental Disabilities Council at the DSP Conference at the Grand Summit in Bartlett, NH in late October.