Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

Heidi Friedman:
New York State DSP of the Year


Heidi Friedman can be contacted at the Arc of Delaware County

Heidi: I work for The Arc of Dela- ware County, which is located in Arkville, New York, in the Catskill Mountain Region of the state. I’ve been with the agency for seven years and work as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) doing community inclusion activities. My official title is Life Coach VII.

FI: Why did you win the DSP award in your state?

I was nominated for the 2013 ANCOR Award because of my relationships with the folks I sup- port, innovations, creativity and dedication.

FI: Describe your best day on the job

The best day on the job is when someone I support smiles. When I know that I just made a difference that affected another person in a positive way, knowing that they trust me and want to be with me. It’s all about making another per- son feel worth. When the people I support look at me and say, “Thank you! Have a good week- end. I’m happy because..., or I’m sad because...,” that’s a forever connection and a wonderful day.

FI: What have you learned from people you support?

The answer is simple - patience. Patience to listen, patience to wait for successes. When people I sup- port do a task on their own and feel the pure joy of independence, the power is theirs forever. They know they can accomplish new and harder tasks, and they can conquer many more challenges.

FI: What have you learned from other DSPs?

Teamwork. It’s important that everyone works together to achieve the same goal. Each person brings his or her own set of unique gifts and talents to the team, and putting them all together is what makes us work.

​​​FI: What has changed in the field since you started?

Here at The Arc of Delaware County everything begins with Person-Centered Planning. This involves discovering what folks want out of life, and then helping to make it happen. This is a fantastic shift that our organization has taken over the years. Not just having meetings, but involving each person supported in the planning meetings, assessments and discussions. Everything we do is person-centered, and based on the desires of the individuals. Sometimes we can jump right in and help them accomplish it, and sometimes there are situations when lots of small steps are needed to reach the goal.

FI: Please share more insights

Being a DSP has made such a difference in my life. It can make a difference in your life also. If you are not sure exactly sure what being a DSP is all about, go to www. and take the time to find out. When you watch Gerry do his impression of Jackie Gleason, or Kelly as she dances to Thriller, you can’t help but be mesmerized by their talent and passion. The people we support are exactly like everybody else, in the sense that we are all unique individuals.