Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Darlene O’Dell

REGION 4 – Taconic
Darlene O’Dell

Position: Direct Support Assistant

Years of Service: 37


Darlene O’Dell says knowing the people she serves are taken care of and are safe is the most rewarding part of being a DSP. 

“The interaction with and caring for individuals is my favorite part of the job,” Darlene adds.


Ashley O’Malley, Developmental Assistant 2, says Darlene goes above and beyond the call of duty every day. “She makes sure that plans are followed through and takes on multiple extra tasks just because she knows there are things that need to be completed.” 

“Darlene takes the initiative to know what needs to be done – on trainings, on personal care, etc.,” O’Malley adds. “She is the first to notice if someone isn’t acting themselves and to see what she can do to assist that person. She advocates for everyone to ensure that the job is done and done accurately.”

Darlene is the biggest advocate they have at the day program where she works, according to O’Malley. “She ensures that the people have safe and accommodated opportunities to get out and live richer, fuller lives within the community. She educates individuals about appropriate behaviors when on outings, and encourages people to become more independent.”

“Darlene is the most outgoing, knowledgeable person I have had the pleasure of working with. She is an asset to our day program,” O’Malley adds. “All of us here, staff and individuals, look up to Darlene and turn to her regularly for guidance.”

“When the job starts getting tough and staff start getting discouraged, out of nowhere you hear ‘There’s a song about it, want to hear it? Here it goes…’ followed by a deep, soulful song Darlene starts to sing. It brings a smile to everyone’s face,” O’Malley says.

“Darlene has a great relationship with all the people she serves – and has served – over her 37 years of state service,” O’Malley concludes. “She is a role model for us all here at the day program.”