Frontline Initiative DSP Recognition

Ignacio (Nash) Cantu:
Texas DSP of the Year

Nash: I am a Direct Support Professional (DSP) with Mosaic in Dallas, Texas. I have been a DSP for two years.

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

I was surprised to have been selected Texas DSP of the Year for 2013. I believe I won the award partly for my ability to communicate with everyone well and my desire to make a difference. My supervisor felt that I do particularly well in what she describedas the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) Competency Area #13 – Building and Maintaining Friendships and Relationships.

I support three men in their 40’s and 50’s who are roommates living in their own apartment. At one point, I took time to intro- duce the men I work with to their neighbors in other apartments and helped them develop friendships. I have worked hard to expand their circle of supports and friendships by teaching them what it is like to be a friend and to have a friend.

FI: What do you like about being a DSP?

If I were asked what a great day is in working for Mosaic, I would say it feels like every day is a great day in my work. I enjoy what I do. I spend a lot of time going into the community so that the men I support can experience meaningful lives with others. I share my belief that we are all just people and none of us are defined by our disabilities.

I try to encourage the people I support to participate in com- munity activities so they can learn different things and meet people. We attend monthly birthday parties at church, go roller skating, hang out with friends and generally enjoy being out in the community. I get to know what their interests are and what they enjoy. If they like sports, cooking, art, music, or community activities, I try to take time so that each person does get to do something important to them. I see how I can make a difference in their lives and give a voice to their needs and the needs of other people with disabilities.

FI: What have you learned as a DSP?

I feel like I am growing as a DSP and continue to learn how to be better at what I do. My identity as a DSP is getting stronger and I have learned that the NADSP is an organization that can help me in my professional development. I have learned also that there are DSPs like me all over the country. Eventually I want to be a Social Worker in this field.

FI: What are others saying?

Representative Kenny Marchant, TX: Thanks to Nash’s incredible work, the people he supports have a greater opportunity to participate and contribute in their com- munity. I am extremely grateful to have Nash as a constituent and am very proud to recognize his de- voted service to the people of my district and the state of Texas... We must always honor those who devote themselves to enriching the lives of others.