Cape Abilities Celebrates Direct Support Professionals Week 2019!


During Direct Support Professionals Week, September 7-13, 2019,
Cape Abilities is proud to recognize the dedication and commitment of our outstanding Direct Support Professionals, and we want to express our sincere appreciation
for their vital contribution to the Cape Cod community.

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This committed group of loving and caring professionals come from a wide variety of backgrounds who work directly with the individuals we serve,  assisting them with many different areas of their lives, including activities of daily living, jobs, volunteering, community involvement, social skills, recreation, self-expression, and personal relationships.

By offering our Direct Support staff more professional training opportunities and increased Human Resource and Clinical training and support, this dedicated Cape Abilities team can provide the highest quality of services for the individuals we serve every day.

Please join us as we celebrate Direct Support Professionals Week
with a few stories about our remarkable Direct Support team!

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Meet Patrick Hough, a Vocational Specialist now in his fifth year at Cape Abilities.  In that short time,  Patrick has forged a remarkable track record of placing Cape Abilities participants into jobs that are tailored to their specific interests and abilities.  Patient, loyal, and as kind as the day is long, Patrick is a trusted mentor for participants seeking his support to help them discover and pursue their dreams.

Patrick always puts the interest and desires of our participants first, and businesses recognize that immediately. They both trust him to establish a solid partnership that is beneficial to all involved.

Supportive and friendly, selfless and dedicated…..these adjectives all apply to Patrick.  The Vocational team at Cape Abilities is enriched because of him, and many of our participants realize their employment dreams because of Patrick’s steadfast commitment to them and to our mission.

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Donna Rose, a Direct Support Professional who is a member of our Residential staff since January 2012, is the ultimate team player and co-worker. Respected and valued by the entire residential team at all levels, Donna’s natural leadership skills, helpful nature, thoughtfulness, and flexibility has been invaluable in supporting the individuals she serves through a variety of major life changes and challenges. When “life happens”, such as when one of our resident homes was placed in the market and sold and soon later a beloved team member became terminally ill, Donna shores herself up, broadens her shoulders, rolls up her sleeves, and supports the men and her co-workers with consistency, compassion, a gentle spirit, and fortitude.

Donna is a steadfast and invaluable mentor and teacher for the men she serves. Beyond working alongside her co-workers to literally transform the residences from houses to homes that reflect the men’s family connections, personal tastes, and interests, Donna works tirelessly to help the men learn skills geared towards increasing their personal well-being and independence. Three of the men Donna has supported while with the agency enjoy independent community skills. Her mentoring in how to make safe choices while enjoying the community without staff has resulted in excellent outcomes and increased independence.

Agnes Kennedy, Cape Abilities Residential Supervisor, shares, “Donna will do absolutely anything for the men and the team. If anyone needs help, she is always right there. Donna is so kind, generous and thoughtful of others. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

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Diane Longobardi has been changing the lives of our participants ever since she jumped into her Cape Abilities Transportation van in 2012.   Every passenger knows that Diane cares deeply about and for them.  They all enter Cape Abilities in the morning smiling and happy, having no doubt been entertained by Diane’s never-ending cheery disposition.   Having a bad day? Diane will turn it around in a heartbeat.

How important is Diane to the success of Cape Abilities? Just ask one of our newest participants, who was so very, very shy he would not even look at his fellow riders. His mother would have to talk him out of the house just to get him on Diane’s van. But after just a few months, he was bouncing out of the house with his mother trailing behind to get on the van as quickly as possible!  He laughs and jokes with his fellow passengers. Think Diane had something to do with that?  Today, that same young man throws kisses to Diane as he leaves the van to come into Cape Abilities. Every day.

“Access to reliable transportation is a key component of living an active, integrated life for people with disabilities,” notes Cynthia Klopfer, Cape Abilities Transportation Director. “And so is the company you keep along the way.  Diane sets the table for our participants to have a great day and to help them get the most out of their program training.  She makes it possible for so many people to have successful days.  We are so fortunate to have her on our team, and not one participant who has been transported by her would disagree with that.”

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In need of a kind, caring and composed staff member, who puts the feelings and concerns of others before her own? Tracy MacDonald fills that need and more.  The minute she became a member of the Cape Abilities Day Habilitation staff almost two years ago, Tracy’s professionalism and expertise was evident from the start.  Her kindness and supportive attitude make everyday a happy day for our staff and participants.  Whether its analyzing complex situations or providing quality care, Tracy quickly earned the trust of her peers and the individuals she serves, who look to her often for guidance and support.

“It is a pleasure to work alongside such a professional and committed woman,” says Josephine Fennell, Director of Day Habilitation at Cape Abilities. “Tracy’s natural ability to insure calmness is respected and valued greatly amongst both her colleagues and our participants. She ensures a positive, therapeutic learning environment for all our members.  All of us at Cape Abilities are lucky to have such a dedicated, patient, and fun person like Tracy as a member of our growing family.”

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In 2016, Cape Abilities opened a new resident home in Barnstable to support young adults with intensive clinical support needs. The first Direct Support Professional selected to work on the resident team was Omelyn Grey-Brown. Omelyn did not come with extensive experience supporting people with such highly unique challenges. Instead, Omelyn’s initial gifts brought to the team were her kindness, compassion, willingness to learn, commitment to excellence, and exhaustive work ethic. Omelyn was a “very quick study”; her work performance and effectiveness in supporting individuals with complex needs swiftly becoming best practice.

Omelyn has developed incredibly trusting relationships with the individuals in her care. This was not always easy. For example, one individual struggles with physical touch. Through patience, consistency, and devotion, this woman now enjoys an occasional hug – from Omelyn. This young woman also seeks Omelyn out is times of distress. Medical appointments are particularly scary, but are now successfully endured through the gentle but persistent efforts of Omelyn. Omelyn has recently been promoted to Assistant Manager in recognition of her outstanding care.

Her team recently shared: “Omelyn has a kind, calm demeanor that is so necessary at this residence.  Nothing rattles her.  She has been an incredible asset to not only the individuals here in this home, but also to some of our other resident group homes. Cape Abilities is lucky to have her on our team. She brings to light the mission in all she does with the individuals. I am beyond lucky to have such a strong, kind, and compassionate individual on my team.”

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Erin McKeown, Direct Support Professional-3 at our home in Harwich, is a quiet and effective leader, insuring the day-to-day management of residential services provided to the individuals she serves. Erin offers mentoring graciously, consistently, and competently with a positive and gentle spirit.

Erin is a strong advocate for the residents in her home. She is entrusted to manage medical appointments and follow up.  Her supervisor notes that, “As the individuals become increasingly fragile as they age, I know that Erin will keep them safe.”

Erin ensures that the individuals are able to participate in events that are important to them. For instance, Erin has traveled hundreds of miles to ensure that one of the individuals is able to go to camp every summer. She also assists individuals in learning of fun and enriching community activities in their surrounding neighborhood and community, insuring choice is always fostered.

The individuals find comfort in Erin’s calming presence. She is a pillar of strength for all of them.  Everyone needs someone in their life that can see the silver lining in the darkest clouds. Erin serves that purpose not only for her supervisor and work team, but more importantly for the individuals she is entrusted to support. Erin will drop everything to assist anyone at any given moment. She is a trusted and dependable friend.

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Courtney Pessini is a Direct Support Professional with a passion to improve the lives of others. Employed for eight years at our residence home in Centerville, Courtney’s commitment to the individuals she serves is legendary. Courtney is a strong, enthusiastic employee whose quiet leadership through exemplary example sets a tone of excellence among her peers. An outstanding and positively motivated team player and team leader, Courtney is a wonderful ambassador for Cape Abilities. She exemplifies professionalism in her best practice direct support work. 

Courtney is a strong advocate for the women she serves, insuring all lead rich and meaningful lives. She recognizes their individualism and “goes the extra mile” to insure each enjoys active and meaningful lives in the community through work, volunteerism, enjoying their religious faith, and participation in an assortment of community activities.  “Courtney is a super lady,” said one resident. “She is just so special. She is so good about everything. Courtney is so sweet. She is nice to everyone — not just a few people, everyone. She is outstanding.”

“Courtney is a great role model,” notes Residential Supervisor Hope Naylor. “She exemplifies everything Cape Abilities stands for.”

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As evidenced by over 15 years tenure as a Direct Support Professional at the Allen Drive, Brewster residence,
Karen Mahoney is a 100% committed to the women she serves. As the women and their parents will attest, Karen is a hard-working, efficient, highly responsible, and compassionate Direct Support Professional.

Karen is a staunch advocate for the women who live at Allen Drive, not only teaching skills necessary to day to day life and to grow personally, but also supporting the women with weathering a variety major life challenges. The women trust Karen implicitly. That trust was hard earned through years of unwavering dedication.

As Residential Program Director Lisa Farrington observes, “Karen takes pride in what she does, enjoys her work and does it well. If something needs to be done, Karen is the first to step up. She remains focused and strives to ensure that the women she supports continue to receive quality services and continuity in their routines through any changes or challenges within the home.”

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Megan Leyton is a Clinical Specialist in our Day Habilitation program. She joined Cape Abilities in September of 2014. Since then, Megan has grown quickly to become a masters-level licensed Applied Behavior Analysts though a cohort with  Endicott College.  Along the way, Megan has supported people in our day habilitation program who require a high level of care so that they may have a meaningful and safe day.  Staff and participants alike benefit from Megan’s professional, gentle and old-fashioned common sense approach.  She has a very bright future in this field, and with Cape Abilities, in the years ahead.

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Job Development without Job Supports is a little bit like flying a plane with one wing. Getting a job, learning the job and keeping the job takes teamwork and what a great team of Job Coaches we have agency wide! We highlight two job coaches who play an integral role in the Vocational Program; Mandy Gomes (top,right) and Lisa Ransom (bottom, right).

Mandy Gomes began her career at Cape Abilities in August of 2000.  18 years and counting! She moved from her position in the shelter workshop to Job Coaching people in the community and social enterprises. Mandy loves to work and she loves providing people the opportunity to do the same.

Lisa Ransom came to Cape Abilities in March of 2012. Lisa loves to get things done and she inspires people to work hard and perform well.

Both Mandy and Lisa support workers at the VA Clinic in Hyannis, 6A Farm, cleaning crews for the CCRTA Bus Shelters, Old School House in Barnstable Village, Snyders Lance, Inc, and Cape Abilities. They also job coach at Centerville Pie and Chatham Bars Inn and fill in wherever job supports are required. Willingly and professionally.

Mandy Gomes and Lisa Ransom are incredible and critical members of our Direct Care professional staff.  They go the extra mile every day to keep people happy and productive in their work and employers satisfied with Cape Abilities vocational services.  We can’t imagine where we would be without them.

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donna-linares2Donna Linares is a woman with a passionate drive for excellence – not only for herself, but also the women she supports. A Direct Support Professional at Cape Abilities’ resident home, Lila’s House, since 2009, Donna’s commitment, positive spirit, exhaustive work ethic, and compassionate assertiveness has resulted in best practice outcomes, most notably in the marked personal growth of the women who call Lila’s House home.

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monique-normanMonique Norman is a pillar of commitment and consistency for individuals supported by Cape Abilities. One of the agency’s longest tenured Direct Support Professionals, Monique has been making a difference in the lives of others for nearly 21 years.

Initially hired as a relief employee, Monique joined Cape Abilities full-time supporting individuals with pervasive support needs in the agency’s Lyndon Center Day Program in May 1999. After a five-year tenure, Monique then joined residential services, working as a Direct Support Professional in three of the agency’s group homes, most recently at the Old Jail Lane residence in Barnstable Village.  Residential Program Director Lisa Farrington recently shared her thoughts of Monique’s contributions to the residential team. “Monique is truly devoted to the women she cares for. It is apparent in the quality support she provides to the women in the home.”

Monique enjoys the interactions she has with the women she serves, and she strives to get to know each person intimately. “I really want to help each woman find her own voice,” Monique recently shared, adding, “I’ve enjoyed watching everyone’s progress through the years, and I find helping people through all phases of their lives very meaningful to me.”

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corrina-dyalNot only is Corrina Dyal an exemplary Direct Support Professional, she is also a very special person. For the last seven years, Corrina has supported several elderly and medically vulnerable individuals living at the agency’s Brush Hill residence. In her invaluable role, not only does Corrina ensure people in her care enjoy rich, valued and comfortable lives, she also supported others who came before them with life ending care, guiding six individuals through their final days with us.

There are just no words to adequately describe just how profoundly Corrina has touched the lives of others, but her supervisor is valiant in her attempt. “Corrina is extremely competent and enjoyable to work with. She is bright, innovative, dependable and invaluable in caring for the residents.” Kim adds, “Corrina is always kind, thoughtful and patient. She truly wants each individual to be happy.”

Beyond Corrina’s passion to insure the quality of life of the people she serves, she is always an informative, welcoming and compassionate supporter of their families, as well as peer staff at Brush Hill. A strong team leader, as well as an enthusiastic team player, Corrina’s steadfast commitment and exhaustive work ethic raises the bar of excellence common to Cape Abilities outstanding Direct Support Professionals.

The opportunity to enhance and help change the lives of individuals with disabilities begins with the commitment of our direct support professionals.  Without their incredible efforts and loyal dedication to our mission, we could not offer the high quality of support services that are benefiting hundreds of individuals with disabilities every day.

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20160913_122944The day is fast, stimulating and exciting at the Hyannis Life Skills/Day Habilitation program! People travel to and from their community for volunteer and social opportunities. Once back to home base, they may be hitting the exercise area, cooking for the CHAMP House or joining a gathering for one reason or another. For some, often a little older or in need of a less stimulating environment, it is good to have an oasis when they return.

Mary Eagan, a long-term Cape Abilities employee with years of experience in this field, provides a balance for these individuals.  Her program area in Life Skills could be called Safe Harbor; a place for the folks we serve to dock after a day of voyaging.  The people who Mary supports seek Mary’s support; they’re not assigned to it.  She gives people a chance to challenge and pace themselves at the same time.  In Mary’s world, people are treated with respect and dignity and there is nothing more important in her day then the people who come to be with her.  The people who come to this program and, when needed, Mary’s harbor.

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20160913_122757When Brittany Galgay decided to make Cape Abilities Community Based Day Supports (CBDS) her choice of employment after providing some additional supports to the program on temporary basis, a collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the program. Colleagues within her previous assignment were disappointed to lose her but very happy that Brittany was staying with Cape Abilties. Knowing that the agency gained yet another superb addition to the mission was all that mattered.

From the moment Brittany entered the Lyndon Center in Hyannis, she took on more than her share of responsibilities and she hasn’t stopped since. Simply stated, Brittany Gets It! A loyal colleague to her dedicated CBDS team, Brittany understands that community based programming should be and must be community based. She works with everyone in the program to plan activities that will help support the goals of the people who attend. Brittany is also a self-taught writer and her passion for capturing accurate and well written prose reflects in her progress notes. It is one of the reasons why she takes the lead on reports and documentation. What a combination! Brittany makes sure that the program fulfills its community obligations and captures it in writing .  She gets it and we are privileged that we got her.

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Congratulations and thank you
to this most outstanding team!

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