REGION: 1 – Western New York
DSP Nomination Name: Maria Salas
Position: Developmental Assistant II
Years of Service: 10
THE NOMINEE’S FAVORITE OR MOST REWARDING PART ABOUT BEING A DSP:
Maria Salas says she enjoys introducing new interests and opportunities to the people she serves. Maria likes to see the person’s excitement when learning new skills and hobbies. She says she likes to advocate for the people she supports, while also working with their families and team to ensure she is providing an enriching daily life.
Sondra Hines, Developmental Assistant III, and Maria’s supervisor calls Maria a “team player who has a consistent positive attitude.”
“If she can’t assist in a request, she will still help find a solution,” Hines says. “Not only is Maria a strong advocate for the people who reside in the home, but she is also an advocate for people on the entire team. While working with Maria, you can tell from her actions she really cares for the team. Maria is open to new ideas and is always willing to listen and support new initiatives. Maria wants to see everyone succeed.”
Maria, Hines adds, is determined to provide a fulfilling activity to the people on the team that do not attend a program on a full-time basis and leads the summer garden club – called “Can You Dig It.”
“This club has provided extremely rewarding experiences,” Hines says. “They have social interaction on a weekly basis with a group of friends from different homes, they are learning new skills and taking pride in the work they get to do at their home and at their peers’ homes.
“Maria also helped to design the club T-shirt to show they are part of this great group,” Hines adds. “When the group cannot meet to work outdoors in the gardens, Maria has also set up activities for them to meet indoors for lunch and other things. Maria plans to continue this club throughout the year.”
In addition, Hines says Maria also volunteered to help with the supervisor transition at the home and stepped up to assist both the staff and the people living in the home.
“The people living there transitioned without any concerns,” Hines explains. “Maria has built a great rapport with the people there in a short period of time. They trust her and rely on her for guidance and support each day.
“She is very willing to train and teach new employees, creating an inviting and positive experience as staff begin their careers with OPWDD,” Hines says, adding that Maria volunteered to mentor new DA I and DA II staff on the team.
“Maria is an amazing person to work with. She always finds a way to help the team if we have a staffing issue or if a staff needs assistance completing a new task,” Hines concludes. “Many staff on the team feel comfortable to reach out to Maria and value her opinion. The staff and people living there look forward to working with her every day.”