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Resource Center Employee Receives National Recognition

Jennifer Herron

A Resource Center employee has received national recognition for the supports she provides to people with disabling conditions.

Jennifer Herron has been named a Direct Support Professional of the Year by ANCOR (the American Network of Community Options and Resources). ANCOR selected Herron as New York State’s DSP of the Year. She and other honorees from across the country were recognized April 13 in Miami during ANCOR’s Annual Conference.

Herron, a Sinclairville resident, has worked for The Resource Center for 20 years. In her role as a life coach, she supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, most of whom live independently with assistance from staff. Herron helps people navigate the challenges of living on their own and supports them so they have the opportunity to enjoy positive, self-directed lives. When people face important decisions, Herron helps them understand the available options and the likely outcomes of each. When people subsequently make decisions that have undesirable results, Herron works with them in a respectful way to assess what went wrong and determine how to move forward.

ANCOR chose Herron as a DSP of the Year because of her commitment to the people she supports.

“Whether assisting with money management to fulfill a dream of purchasing a home or supporting the dream of motherhood, Jennifer works to ensure the people she supports achieve their biggest dreams and live their best, most meaningful lives,” ANCOR noted. “Jennifer builds trust with the people she supports to discover what’s most important to them. Her calm, judgment-free approach gives her the information she needs to present various scenarios in which they can accomplish their goals. No matter the choices they make, Jennifer commits to identifying the pathways, resources and supports required to transform the dreams of the people she supports into reality.”

Resource Center officials were pleased with Herron’s selection as DSP of the Year.

“Jen is such an asset to our team and the people she supports,” said Terri Johnson, director of employment and community-based services. “As a life coach, Jen wears many hats for the people she supports. Jen has faced so many scenarios when supporting people that many would have given up, but Jen always sticks with people and never stops trying to help them find a better option. We are so proud to have her on our team and couldn’t be more excited that she is being recognized on a national platform.”

This marks Herron’s second major honor. She was The Resource Center’s Employee of the Year for 2019.

ANCOR advocates for more than 1,800 service providers nationwide that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since 2007, ANCOR’s annual awards have recognized direct support professionals who provide long-term supports and services to people with disabilities.

“This year’s honorees were chosen from more than 300 nominations that truly represent the indelible impact our direct support workforce has, both in the lives of the people they support and in the communities where they serve,” ANCOR said in announcing the award recipients. “These extraordinary professionals work tirelessly to solve problems, engineer solutions, adapt, innovate, listen, and support, all in service of ensuring that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live and thrive in the community.”

“From helping people with activities of daily living to supporting them to connect with long-lost family members and so much more, direct support professionals like Jennifer are proof-positive of the crucial roles this workforce plays in communities across the country,” said Heidi Mansir, the president of ANCOR’s board of directors. “ANCOR is proud to celebrate Jennifer and the 50 other professionals who comprise the 2022 class of outstanding honorees.”

Barbara Merrill, ANCOR’s chief executive officer, referenced the current shortage of direct support professionals nationwide and its negative impacts on the ability of service providers to meet the needs and desires of people with disabilities and their families.

“This is the 16th consecutive year ANCOR has presented the Direct Support Professional of the Year Awards, and the third class to have been honored since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Merrill said. “The challenges presented by the pandemic have collided with a recruitment and retention crisis in our workforce to wreak previously unthinkable havoc on our system of home- and community-based supports. For that reason, there’s never been a more poignant time to celebrate people like Jennifer and the more than four dozen other DSPs who exemplify excellence in our field.”

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