Community Housing

Ernestine Gayle Selected to Receive DSP of the Year Award

Program Coordinator Tim Teter, Ernestine Gayl, Director of Community Housing Bill Krayss and Dawn Jimerson

Program Coordinator Tim Teter, Ernestine Gayle, Director of Community Housing Bill Krayss and Dawn Jimerson

Congratulations to Ernestine Gayle who will receive the Robert Schonhorn Direct Support Professional of the Year Award from Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State (CP of NYS) at their annual conference in October.

When you meet Ernestine, it is obvious why she is deserving of this award. I interviewed Ernestine for a video about her that will be shown in advance of the award presentation. She brought along a person she supports named DJ, and paused throughout our conversation to tickle and kiss DJ who broke into a huge smile whenever this happened.

Ernestine says she loves her job because she loves the people she supports like DJ.  She makes sure they feel loved and included in whatever is going on. Ernestine says that she tries to teach those she cares for to do things for themselves, which is at the heart of the person-centered approach that Empower embraces, especially since becoming a CQL accredited agency.

Ernerstine’s supervisors describe her as the person they would choose to be their own caregiver, and praise the positive effect that Ernestine has on staff morale at the house where she works. In fact, this house has the highest staff retention rate of all of Empower’s houses, which Chief Executive Officer Jeff Paterson attributes to Ernestine’s presence and positive influence.

Ernestine is a very humble person, and does the job not for accolades but because of the connections she has with her coworkers and the people she supports. She is an inspiration to all.

Thank you, Ernestine, for all you do, and congratulations on this award.

Making New Friends and Learning Self-Advocacy

All of Empower’s services are individualized, and are based on goals that each person supported determines along with their family and Empower staff. Many people supported such as Marshawn share the goal of staying connected to existing friends and making new ones. In July, Empower helped Marshawn and his friend, Santino, make progress on this goal by attending a youth development event in Rochester called AMPLIFY-NY where they made many new friends and learned how to advocate for themselves. This experience was made possible thanks to a grant from New York State’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.

AMPLIFY-NY teaches young people to speak up, build skills, and prepare to take on leadership roles through fun activities, panel presentations, hands-on activities that sharpen leadership and advocacy skills. This forum was led by Elijah Fagan-Solis and facilitated by YOUTH POWER!  NY.   YOUTH POWER! works to ensure that young people have meaningful involvement involvement on all levels of the services they receive.