Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Christopher Debree

REGION: 4 - Hudson Valley
Christopher Debree

Position: Developmental Assistant 3

Years of Service: 17


Christopher says the best part of his role as a DSP is interacting with the individuals he serves. He knows of no other position that is as rewarding as assisting people to grow, and witnessing their continuous joyous outlook on life.


Susanna Friedman, Christopher’s Team Treatment Leader, says whether it be performing assigned tasks, interacting with coworkers, assisting with individuals in need of additional assistance, or lending a hand with residential issues at the home where he works in Middletown, Christopher is an exemplary employee.

 “Chris conducts himself professionally at all times,” Friedman says. “He makes himself available to staff and co-workers when needed. He urges, empowers and helps staff to take responsibility in their own position, and he operates with good integrity, no matter how challenging a specific issue may be.”

As a Developmental Assistant 3, Christopher’s position is more focused on the staff hired to care for the individuals at the home. Friedman says his staff know they can turn to him in times of need and he will be there for them – and the feeling is mutual.

Friedman says, “Together, the individuals and fellow staff have taught Chris to look beyond the traditional definition of what ‘family’ truly is, because they are family to him.”

One of Christopher’s greatest strengths as an employee and human being is his caring nature toward individuals and their families, as well as towards his co-workers, she explains.

Friedman says, “How he fits all of this into each day without obvious overwhelm or fatigue is a mystery. Chris has an amazing talent for identifying needs within each location to create better organizational systems. He does it all with a pleasant and courteous demeanor.”

An example of his exemplary nature and value as an employee is the story of the Halloween snowstorm that occurred some years ago. Only flurries were predicted, so individuals and staff from Cornwall headed to Thiells for a Halloween dance. The snow flurries turned into a near blizzard, trapping many drivers on the Palisades.

Christopher responded to calls for help from his staff, who were stopped on the highway with a vehicle full of hungry individuals from Cornwall, and a gas gauge that was dropping toward empty.

“He and the Administrator on Duty discussed options and, ultimately, Chris being Chris, got in his own snow-tired vehicle and went to find them,” Friedman says. “By about 9 p.m. he had located the van and got the assistance of State Police to get to nearby Mount Ivy. He bought burgers for everyone from a diner and settled in there until morning. The next day, Chris and his staff took the individuals back home to Orange County.”

“He is a truly outstanding employee and person,” she adds.