Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Laura Baker

REGION 1 – Western NY

Position: Developmental Assistant II

Years of Service: 25


“Advocating for individuals,” Laura Baker says, is the most rewarding part about being a DSP. In a supervisory role, the most rewarding part to her is “being able to help people move into the field, and giving them knowledge and the tools they need to succeed.”


“Laura runs a very difficult house and makes it look easy, even though I am intimately aware of how uneasy it actually is,” says Daniel Ahrens, Developmental Assistant III. “Laura and her staff are frequently faced with tough medical situations; from pneumonia and various infections to heart and renal issues to diagnoses that remain something of a mystery. Laura and her staff have risen to every challenge placed before them.”

“Laura’s leadership and knowledge of the field, the home and its individuals have meant a successfully-run home in which the people live a comfortable and happy life, full of inclusion and person centeredness,” adds Ahrens. “Moreover, due to Laura’s ability to run the home, my job is that much easier.”

What sets Laura apart is her positive attitude towards her position. “The people in her care are older and with that comes aging and all the effects of it,” says Ahrens. “Laura takes that as information she needs to do her job. She treats the people in the home with the compassion that we all deserve so much, not stopping at simply meeting their needs, but going above and beyond to ensure wants and desires are fulfilled whenever possible.”

“Since taking my position, I have never had a concern about the home Laura manages,” Ahrens continues. “I know that when I must be busy keeping up with another home for this reason or that, the home where she works is doing alright. It is a comfort to know that she is there making sure things are running smoothly and knowing that nothing is being overlooked.”

When asked what, specifically, Laura has done to support OPWDD’s mission of helping people with developmental disabilities live richer lives, Ahrens says, “the word ‘specifically’ would indicate that there is some instance that is beyond the rest in some scope. Perhaps there are some where this would qualify. However, Laura does not have individual instances of greatness, rather she dedicates her entire working life to it.

“In the way she is always there when I call and always upbeat and happy to help with whatever I have asked of her,” Ahern adds. “In the way that I can see every one of the people she works with smile like a child who has found a cherished loved one when they hear her voice. Specifically, I guess I would say that Laura makes a difference in the individuals’ lives; specifically, I would say in a large part because of Laura’s efforts, they are happy.”