Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

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Deborah Wilkins

REGION: 1 – Finger Lakes

Position: Direct Support Assistant

Years of Service: 12


“I always joke around and say I have worked at the home so long that I feel like part of the furniture,” Deborah Wilkins says about her job as a Direct Support Professional. “But to be honest, I feel like part of the family.

“Every day I come to work I am greeted by the people who live there with big smiles and a welcoming excitement, even if I only left a few hours earlier,” she says. “There are not many jobs where you can walk into the door and receive such a welcome.

“Whether it turns out to be a stressful day or a quiet one, I go home with a sense that I was able to make a difference to another person, which truly gives me a warm feeling of gratification, no matter how corny that may sound,” Deborah adds.


Kristal Stevens, Developmental Assistant I and Doris Bowman DAI trainee both supervise Deborah and say that she is always willing to extend her knowledge and help new staff, both new DSAs and supervisors.

“Debbie is always honest with everyone and has a high degree of compassion and professionalism. She always shows respect to everyone even when she may not agree with them,” Stevens and Bowman say.

“She knows it is not about us; it is about the people we support getting the most out of their lives,” they add.

Although Deborah works the night shift, she volunteers to go on clinic appointments as well as grocery shopping trips.

“Prior to taking an actual night shift, Debbie’s response was, ‘sure, I will do it.’ When a discussion started about giving Debbie notice to change shifts, her response was, ‘I don’t need any notice. I can start immediately,’” Stevens and Bowman say.

She also always has a “listening ear” for the people entrusted in her care, as well as the staff. Debbie, they say, will tell you exactly how she feels about a situation, which they believe is a good trait to have, as they always know what she wants or needs and exactly what she expects of them.

“Debbie is always willing to learn new things. She will then help to teach others the things she has learned – staff and people residing in the home alike,” Stevens and Bowman add.

She is a retired Air Force veteran and is very meticulous about everything she does, which is very helpful when it comes to tasks such as completing the medication order and ensuring an adequate supply of medications are on hand.