Rochelle Lilly

Rochelle poses, wearing collared shirt, pink flowers in background

REGION: 5 – Metro New York 

DSP: Rochelle Lilly 

Position: Direct Support Assistant 

Years of Service: 30 


Rochelle Lilly was selected as a Direct Support Professional of the Year for the Metro New York DDSOO because with almost 30 years under her belt in state service, she still works tirelessly through advocacy and/or action, to ensure that people have the things they need. 

“Rochelle was selected because she is a leader, a motivator and a person that exemplifies OPWDD’s mission statement, ‘We help people with Developmental Disabilities live richer lives,’” says House Manager Nellie Phillips. 

“Rochelle is the staff motivator and leads not because it’s a duty listed on an assignment sheet, it’s her assignment here on Earth, at Metro, at the home,” Phillips adds.  

“She leads selflessly and appears to draw pleasure out of celebrating others. Rochelle celebrates everyone’s promotions and successes, boosting up house morale,” she continues. “During the pandemic and afterwards, the home was decorated with lively banners announcing the seasons, the holidays, bringing a little of outside inside, while people were periodically under quarantine. Rochelle never forgets a birthday and makes each one as special as the one before, blinging out water bottle tops, hanging ribbons, making birthday banners and cooking special meals with their favorites.” 

It doesn’t matter if it’s Rochelle’s regular shift, or if she is on an overnight mandate, Phillips says her energy is the same.  

“’How can I help?’ ‘Let’s do it!’ ‘What can we do?’ are Rochelle’s go-to phrases,” Phillips says. “Rochelle doesn’t have a favorite person – they are all her favorite and special, they know it and she is theirs,” she says. “Although most are non-verbal, one can see their eyes light up when Rochelle enters the room for her shift.    

Rochelle is not only an almost 30-year supporter of people with developmental disabilities living richer lives, but she is also a purveyor of quality services that every person should expect in the home they reside in.  

“Rochelle’s energy is infectious, she rarely makes it upstairs while on duty without a person attached to her arm, basking in her attention,” Phillips says. “Rochelle’s first stop after greetings is always to the office, confirming her assignments and planned activities and the energy is contagious, providing motivation to her coworkers, new and old.” 

“I always have great respect for staff like Rochelle Lilly, those who are able to set themselves aside for others on a daily basis. This is what service delivery is about,” Phillips adds. “There will be others who provide inspiration for the employees, but none that carry as much grace as Rochelle. When she retires this year. Rochelle will be missed by all.” 

“It is the quiet, diligent workers like Rochelle that consistently soften the blows of the outside world, making the DSP job easier day by day, and opening the world up for persons with disabilities,” Phillips concludes.