Hudson IRA, Region 4 - Hudson Valley

Hudson IRA, Region 4 - Hudson Valley

About the team


DSP Team Name: Hudson IRA 

Worksite: Hudson 

Number of Members: 16 

Nominated by: Elissa Ayew, Team Treatment Leader and Watina Wilkerson, Developmental Assistant II and House Director 


Why was this team selected for the DSP honor? 

The Hudson IRA, according to nominators Elissa Ayew, Team Treatment Leader and Watina Wilkerson, Developmental Assistant II and House Director, exemplifies how an effective team should operate.  

“The leadership in the house is solid and provides staff with consistency and stability, which allows the staff to effectively work together for the benefit of the people living there,” they say.  

Hudson has some people with challenging behaviors living in the home and the staff are knowledgeable about their plans and what each person needs to be safe and content.  

“They have developed positive relationships with the people they support and have created a family-like environment for them,” Ayew and Wilkerson say. “When you visit Hudson, it is very evident that the people living there are happy and get along well with the staff. They are typically laughing, joking and in good spirits. If a person is having an off day, the staff know how to support them.“ 

“Families are very happy to have their loved one living at Hudson. The feedback from families about the staff has always been positive and they are very appreciative of the staff and the work with their family members,” Ayew and Wilkerson add. 

What sets this team apart from others? 

“All great teams start with effective leaders. The house manager at Hudson has worked in the house for almost 23 years and knows the people living there very well. She has built a cohesive team that follows policies and procedures and implements a person-centered approach,” Ayew and Wilkerson say.  

What specifically has this team done to support OPWDD’s mission of helping people with developmental disabilities live richer lives? 

The people living at the home are always “on the go” based on their interests and preferences, Ayew and Wilkerson say. They are constantly out in the community, going to the movies, bowling, shopping, on vacation, and taking part in a host of other activities. Some examples of places staff have taken them include: 

  • Summer Jam, a popular Hip-Hop concert 
  • a walk over the Mario Cuomo Bridge 
  • a Rockland Boulders baseball game 
  • parks, movies, restaurants, the mall, and outdoor festivals  


“In addition to outings in the community, the house organizes an annual holiday party for the people living there and their families. This is an event that they start talking about around the end of summer. Last year, the house manager even arranged a surprise visit from Santa,” adds Ayew and Wilkerson. 

“The team at Hudson does an excellent job at community inclusion,” they added.