DSP Week Spotlight: Theresa R. in PA

Theresa has been a direct support professional with Growth Horizons, a Division of RHA Health Services in PA, for 18 years.

What do you love most about being a DSP?

“I’ve done it my whole life. I like the hands-on aspects of the job. I like watching the individuals be able to accomplish their goals and complete them, and to experience the joy with them when they do. It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed. There’s just a joy in working with people that you get to watch grow, and accomplish things, and do things—they become family to me. It’s not just a job.”

What do you think the most important part of your job is?

“Protecting my individuals, providing them with what they need, taking care of all their daily needs, and making a safe environment for them.”

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a DSP at RHA?

“Come in with an open mind and know that there’s just not a simple job description. Whatever’s handed to you, you have to do it. It’s not ‘you work so many hours, then you go home,’ you know? Be open to change. You know, I’ve been with my individuals for a long time, and they’ve changed—they’ve aged. You have to go along with the aging process.”

Theresa was nominated by Beth Davidson and Nicholas Whitfield. Nicholas said:

“[Theresa] has been with us for 18 years. During the pandemic, she has made the health and safety of the people she serves her highest priority. She wouldn’t think of calling out, and never has. Her three individuals that she serves have some extensive medical needs, she takes their care very seriously. Amidst all this you would think she would voice a complaint or two, but she has only said how lucky she was to be able to serve these individuals during this time.”

DSP Week Spotlight: Janet L. in NC

Janet has been with RHA since 1994! This is the only DSP role she’s ever held.

What do you love most about being a DSP?

“I love assisting others with doing things that they wouldn’t be able to do by themselves. I love establishing a rapport with them, so when they hear me, they smile.”

What do you think the most important part of your job is?

“Making sure that we provide all-inclusive support for people. I have a lot of important things though—more than one. Other important things include making sure they eat properly, and their medications are administered properly.”

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a DSP at RHA?

“It’s a good job, and you learn a lot. You have to be patient. You have to be a leader, not a follower. You have to take initiative, and you have to be sociable. I enjoy my job. Never take anything to work with you — if you’re having a bad day, the people we serve will feed off that. So always go to work with a positive attitude, even if you’re having a bad day.”

Janet was nominated by Jan Herring, IDD Operations Vice President in NC, and Samantha Scott, IDD Administrator in NC, who said:

“Janet is passionate about the people she assists every day, and her passion is demonstrated with every task completed and every outcome achieved. Janet readily shares her vast store of knowledge and experience with coworkers as well as new hires for other homes. Janet is one of the employees that stepped up during this trying year and displayed her commitment to the people we support and the company.”

DSP Week Spotlight: Amanda A. in GA

Amanda A. has been a Direct Support Professional with RHA in Georgia since July 2020. This is her first DSP role.

What do you love most about being a DSP?

“It’s the people I support. Trying to put it into any other words…. I really don’t even know how. It’s one of their laughs, it’s the way the other one has to have a hug any time she sees me. It’s them and the joy that they bring to me.”

What do you think the most important part of your job is?

“For me, it’s treating the individuals as if they were my family—the way I would want my family to be treated if they lived in a home like this.”

What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a DSP at RHA?

“It takes a special kind of heart [to be a DSP.] It’s not for someone who just thinks that it’s an easy paycheck. It’s a job for someone that really cares.”

Amanda was nominated by Debbie Stehling, IDD Operations Vice President in Georgia, who said:

“Amanda consistently goes out of her way to make those we serve and support at RHA feel empowered and are cared for every second of every day. Amanda is compassionate and sincere in all interactions with those she supports, she puts them first with a willing and cheerful smile. Through the day-to-day interactions Amanda has with people supported, it is evident how much she cares for the individuals we serve at RHA. We are so thankful for Amanda and her love for supporting those we serve.”

National Disability Provider Association Names Carla Garrison-Greene as Recipient of 2020 Georgia DSP of the Year Award

Recognition honors excellence in workforce providing long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Augusta, GEORGIA – On April 16th, the American Network of Community 2020 Georgia DSP of the Year AwardOptions and Resources (ANCOR) announced that Carla Garrison-Greene, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at RHA Health Services in Augusta, Georgia, has been named the recipient of the 2020 Georgia DSP of the Year award. Carla joins 54 other recipients of ANCOR’s 2020 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards, chosen from a field of 300 outstanding nominees.

“This is wonderful. RHA is overwhelmingly proud of our hero Carla, for her award recognition. I personally appreciate her dedication to support, celebrate, and help the people she serves be who they want to be,” said Jeanne Duncan, CEO of RHA Health Services. “We are fortunate to have so many dedicated DSPs helping others live their best lives, and we’re grateful that ANCOR has recognized Carla with this high-profile honor.”

Since 2007, ANCOR’s annual DSP of the Year awards have recognized outstanding professionals who deliver long-term supports and services to people with an Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability (I/DD). The awards celebrate the important role DSPs play in ensuring individuals with I/DD are included and empowered in the community and raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Inadequate investments in this essential workforce have led to turnover rates in excess of 50 percent and vacancy rates that average 18 to 20 percent nationally.

“ANCOR and our Diamond Partner, Relias, co-present the DSP of the Year awards program each year precisely because of people like Carla. Her commitment to ensuring the inclusion of people supported by RHA Health Services enriches not only the lives of those individuals, but the broader Augusta community at large. Without committed direct support professionals like Carla and all of this year’s outstanding award recipients, people with I/DD would have severely limited opportunities to be part of the community,” said ANCOR chief executive officer Barbara Merrill.

Robert Budd, president of the ANCOR Board of Directors and chief executive officer for Family Residences & Essential Enterprises, Inc., in Old Bethpage, New York, stated, “As someone who started his career providing direct support, I have a deep admiration for people who can overcome their own personal obstacles to show others in the community all that is possible when people have the support they need. Our DSPs rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and so I’m proud of our national association for acknowledging the critical work of Carla Garrison-Greene and all of our phenomenal awardees.”

About Carla’s Contribution

When an individual Carla supports expressed that they wanted to be President, Carla used the upcoming Residents Council election to launch an all-out campaign. This included photoshoots, posters, door-to-door canvassing and campaign rallies. Carla even secured a voting booth to transform her office into a polling place.

But Carla did not stop there: she then used this as an opportunity to educate others supported by RHA Health Services on the voting process and provide them with the full voting experience. The experience also inspired Carla to speak at the Georgia Capitol to advocate for fair wages for DSPs, where her testimony received a standing ovation from the panel.

“Our world would be a better place if there were more people that focused the kind of energy that Carla does on helping others reach their dreams,” said Tonya Self, RHA Administrator in Augusta, GA.


For 50 years, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ancor.org) has been a leading advocate for the critical role service providers play in enriching the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). As a national nonprofit trade association, ANCOR represents 1,600+ organizations employing more than a half-million professionals who together serve more than a million individuals with I/DD. Our mission is to advance the ability of our members to support people with I/DD to fully participate in their communities.

About RHA Health Services

At RHA Health Services (RHAHealthServices.org), the people we serve and support in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee are at the very center of everything we do.  We are here to support, celebrate, and help the people we serve be the person they want to be and live their best lives.

Learn more about RHA Health Services.