Melissa DeSain

Melissa smiles, wearing a light blue shirt.

REGION: 1 – Finger Lakes 

DSP: Melissa DeSain 

Position: Direct Support Assistant 

Years of Service: 17 


Melissa DeSain was chosen as Direct Support Professional of the Year at Finger Lakes because of the extraordinary way she cares about the people she supports. 

According to Team Treatment Leader Anthony Arnitz, Melissa was a comfort to a family who took their family member home during his last days. During several difficult months, the family sought out Melissa for comfort and emotional support, sometimes several times a week.  

“She made herself available to the person and family by phone or in person,” Arnitz adds. “Melissa bought comfort items for the family and especially for the person. The family was very thankful for her support and comfort.” 

When the person died, Melissa made a very elaborate memorial for him. His sister was emotionally grateful for the support Melissa gave the family for more than six months and asked if she could have the memorial items, which were beautiful and decorative pieces with pictures of her brother. 

“Melissa ensures that she goes above and beyond for knowing plans and health and safety for the people she supports,” Arnitz continues “She knows their likes and dislikes and works on recreation calendars, coming up with things specifically for them to enjoy.  

She also decorates the house’s Christmas tree each holiday alongside the people in the home. Melissa goes one step further by decorating a special tree for each holiday – which the people in the home love – with shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, decorated eggs for Easter and even a special tree for a person’s birthday. She also shops for gifts for each person on their birthday and encourages the people in the home to decorate creatively, which they love doing. 

“Melissa even volunteers her own time when people ask her to go out on excursions with them,” Arnitz adds. “She is an example of a caring DSO who shows emotional support and role modeling that does not end after her shift ends at 3.”