RHA Employee Thomas Carter Recipient of the 2019 Relationships Award

May 17, 2019

National Disability Provider Association Names Thomas Carter Recipient of 2019 Relationships Award

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

WATCH:  Augusta GA News Channel 6 Story on Mr. Carter

Thomas Carter receives 2019 ANCOR Relationship Award
Thomas Carter (right) receives the 2019 ANCOR Direct Support Professional Relationship Award

Augusta, GA – On May 8, 2019, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) recognized Thomas Carter, a Direct Support Professional at RHA Health Services in Augusta, GA, with the 2019 Relationship Award.  Thomas joined more than four dozen other recipients of ANCOR’s 2019 Direct Support Professional of the Year awards, chosen from a field of nearly 350 outstanding nominees.

“RHA Health Services is overwhelmingly proud of Thomas, for his award recognition of course, but more importantly for his 40-plus years of dedication and commitment to true community inclusion for the individuals we support,” said Jeanne Duncan, CEO at RHA Health Services. “We cannot think of anyone who more clearly demonstrates the power of person-centered supports, and we’re so grateful that ANCOR has recognized Thomas with this high-profile honor.”

ANCOR Story Room 2019 – RHA Employee Thomas Carter

Awarded annually since 2007, ANCOR’s Direct Support Professional of the Year awards recognize outstanding professionals who provide long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The awards and the accompanying presentation at ANCOR’s Annual Conference were created to celebrate the important role Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) play in ensuring individuals with I/DD can be included and empowered in their communities, and to raise awareness about a direct support workforce in crisis. Nationally, turnover rates near 50 percent amount to a significant shortage of DSPs.

“Thomas is so excited, and I am super proud of him,” said Tonya Self, Administrator of RHA’s Augusta, GA unit.  “I am so happy he won and that he is getting the recognition he deserves for his service. He really is an awesome person and makes us all want to be the best version of ourselves we can be. He loves this population and it shows in his dedication to those people we support here in Augusta.”

Barbara Merrill, ANCOR’s Chief Executive Officer, added: “I often describe DSPs as ‘community navigators.’ Far more than just caregivers, DSPs do it all. From navigating civic life to supporting individuals to create a sense of community around them, DSPs make magic in their communities every single day. These awards represent just a fraction of the recognition that individuals like Thomas deserve.”

About Thomas’ Contribution

There are no shortcuts to building long-term, successful relationships. With 41 years of service as a DSP, Thomas Carter is a model and mentor for building strong relationships that enrich the lives of the people he serves.

Although he has supported several individuals during his long tenure as a DSP, Thomas has worked with one particular young man since he was a very young child. Over the 21 years that he has supported him, Thomas has demonstrated reliability, constancy and care. Thomas has worked with this young man to learn how to manage his feelings and try new activities to develop friendships—last year, he even learned how to fish while on his first vacation with other men in his group home!

Thomas’ constant support has helped the young man to build trust in others and develop social skills that have enabled him to successfully live in the group home and develop new friendships. By demonstrating how to create and sustain a long and trusting relationship, Thomas has helped the individual he supports to flourish as a young adult.

When Thomas learned that another individual he supports had not seen his family in over 13 years, he worked diligently to find his relatives. As luck would have it, the long-lost family was holding a reunion a few towns over. Thomas drove the individual to a large family reunion where he was able to “reunite with his family and spend time with family members…that had lost contact.” As his colleagues have summarized, Thomas’ “love, patience and… dedication” have changed lives.


For nearly 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.