DSP of 18 Years Known as 'Captain'

Tue, September 13, 2016
YAI salutes its Direct Support Professionals. As part of National DSP Recognition Week, we will share profiles of some of our valued employees. They represent all our DSPs in their commitment and dedication to the people YAI supports. 

Stephen Middleton
If you see Charles Hunter and Ellen Coren enjoying a meal together in Queens or just window shopping at the mall, chances are YAI's Stephen Middleton, a Direct Support Professional, will be there, too. It doesn't matter if it's over the weekend or on his day off. 

"It's really one of the most rewarding parts of my job," says Stephen, who is in his 18th year as a DSP at YAI's Woodside residence. "That Charles is happy and doing something he wants to do means the world to me."

Supporting a Relationship

With no short-term memory, Stephen talks to Charles each day about Ellen and their next date to keep her on the top of his mind. During their dates, Stephen provides coaching. It's that kind of support which ensures that Charles and Ellen, who lives in YAI's Bayside residence, enjoy their time together.

Known as the "Captain" of the home, Stephen is a constant for the people who live there and the staff who support them. 

"He's like the father figure here," adds Sam Chan, Woodside Supervisor. "People look to him for approval. He is the Captain. He guides our ship. I can't imagine this home without him."

Priceless Rewards

In search of work, Stephen was referred to YAI and thought "let me give it a try and we'll see how it goes," he recalls. The rewards of the job outweigh the challenges, he says.

"When Charles sees Ellen, the expression and smile on his face is priceless," Stephen says. "I just want them to be happy and have the same opportunities as anyone else who wants to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Why should they be denied that privilege?"

As our field moves more toward a person-centered approach, Stephen was already incorporating person-centered practices, Sam says. "Stephen was always saying, 'Let's see what they want. Let's see what they can do.' He has shared that approach with all of Woodside’s  staff."

Work-Life Balance

"I like to make sure everybody's taken care of and everybody's happy; that goes for our staff and people we support," says Stephen, who is married and has a son, 19, and daughter, 22, as well as two grandchildren. 

Over the years he has learned the art of balancing his family life and career at YAI. "I make sure I make time for my family; it's important," he says. "Just like I make time for my Woodside family."

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