REGION: 4 – Taconic
DSP: Matthew Ettinger
Position: Direct Support Assistant
Years of Service: 6
Matthew Ettinger was selected by the Taconic DDSOO because of the difference he makes in the lives of the people living in the home where he works.
“Matt is a team player,” says Allison Bombard, Registered Nurse. “Matt has helped one person learn how to make better dietary choices that are in accordance with his prescribed diet. I have witnessed first-hand how Matt’s teachings and guidance led this person to make those better choices. Because of this, that person’s blood glucose levels have been remarkable. He has even been able to come off one of his diabetes medications.”
“Matt advocated for one person to be able to have a day off at home when he expressed an interest in quitting day-hab,” Bombard continues. “Rather than the person quitting all-together, Matt encouraged him to try taking a day off when he feels the need. Matt is the staff that is at home with this person. When this person is at home with Matt, Matt will spend quality time with him. He has this person choose an activity for the day and ensures that it happens – most recently Matt took the person to a movie of his choice. When he came home, he was telling everyone what a great day this was. Since being home on occasion, this person has stopped asking to quit day-hab.”
Bombard says Matthew was instrumental in coordinating one person being able to have brunch with his brother who also resides within the Taconic DDSOO. Not only did he coordinate the brunch meeting with the other house, be he also took this person for a haircut just prior to this so he would look his best.
Matthew has taken on a leadership role at the home over the last several months. The home has not had a house manager since November 2022 and he has stepped up to take on this responsibility, even though he has not been promoted to that position.
“I see how the staff rely on Matt for his leadership. Matt is there as a team player to help the staff in any way possible. Staff often tell me that they need to check with Matt or let me see if Matt knows,” Bombard says. “They look to him as a leader in the house. I have seen the people who reach out to Matt, as well. They will tell me that they want to ask Matt if they can go on certain outings, or if Matt will make sure they have their favorite snacks in the house.”
“There is such a comfort that is noticed with the men when Matt is on duty,” she continues. “One person has periods of time in which he becomes very anxious and manic. I have seen Matt take charge of this and very calmly work to ease the person’s noticeable tension. Matt takes on every task in the house to ensure that the men are living their best possible lives.”
Ralph Perez, Developmental Assistant III agrees that Matt is a great employee.
“What separates him from other staff is the way he cares for the people at the home,” Perez says. “He takes the time to treat all persons as different people with different interests. He has learned to be a great advocate by attending weekly Res Hab meetings.”
“We have been without a manager for about eight months and Matt has stepped up and stepped into the leadership role. He has gone above and beyond his normal duties,” Perez adds. “He has learned the role of a house manager. He maintains the daily functions of the house such as shopping, PPE orders, scheduling medical appointments, attending life plan meetings and much more. We are hoping to promote him into this role that he clearly wants and deserves.”