Kelly Anderson’s job has taken her all around the New York metro area. Summer trips to Coney Island, fall excursions to Times Square, and shopping adventures to Long Island and New Jersey are nothing out of the ordinary for her and the residents of Lander IRA that she supports.
“I always want to take [the residents] to places they haven’t been before,” Kelly explained. “My goal is to get them to look forward to doing things they’ve never done.”
Kelly joined AHRC NYC about four-and-a-half years ago after previously doing home health aide work. She chose to join Residential Services because it is what she felt most familiar with.
“This is a 24/7 job,” Kelly said. “You know them at the day programs, but you really know them here.”
“She just takes initiative every day, which you can’t teach,” Christina D’Arpa, Manager of Lander IRA, said of Kelly. “She’s always doing something new with them-they’ve been places I’ve never even been!”
Direct Support Professionals are often responsible for a variety of important tasks, including medication administrations, cooking, driving, and dressing people. Kelly embraces it all.
“I love my job, and there’s no one specific thing I can point to about it,” Kelly said. “When I come to work I have so many things to do. But they always look forward to seeing you. There’s joy in their faces.”
In spending over four years in this position, Kelly has seen many of the Lander residents evolve in personality and life skills. “I’m most proud of the changing effect I’ve had on them,” she said. “Their behaviors are different. A lot of them are getting to the stage where their independence and confidence is beginning to show more.”
In recognition of her dedication to the residents, Kelly has been honored by the Staten Island Developmental Disability Council and in October she will receive the Thomas A. Maul Direct Support Professional Excellence Award from NYSARC, Inc. Kelly was humbled, saying, “I don’t know what I did to deserve these awards! I’m just regularly doing what I do every day.”
The Road Ahead
Kelly said she would like to continue expanding the horizons of Lander’s residences through more trips.
“We do everything locally. I’d love to go away for the weekend and stay in a hotel with them,” she said. No matter what activities or trips may be added, though, Kelly is unwavering in her commitment. “This is the type of work that’s more than just a job. You have to be in it completely. Everybody is somebody. You must treat them with respect and come off the same way you would with anybody else.”