On Thursday night, 250+ people gathered to celebrate the people who empower those with disabilities. In total, 23 of Rhode Island's best Direct Support Professionals were honored; like Irma Barrios from AccessPoint RI pictured below.
The night was kicked off by CPNRI Board President, Liz Wiedenhofer, who reminded us of the impact DSPs have:
"I believe it is the day-to-day actions of our DSPs that has the greatest impact. Monday through Sunday they are there to champion the cause of inclusion, belonging and empowerment. They act as compassionate guides, steadfast companions and are allied advocates."
Our community then got to honor two men who have made a tremendous impact over the last several years: Speaker of the House Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (whose award was accepted by Senator Melissa Murray on his behalf).
Speaker Shekarchi thanked the incredible work advocates have done to help make progress. He also thanked the entire workforce for their important and impactful work.
Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos also attended the event and brought customized awards for each DSP of the Year.
23 DSPs of the Year were celebrated for their dedication, compassion and work ethic. See the full list below!
2023 DSPs of the Year
Antonio Augustin, Whitmarsh House
Lois Babcock, Spurwink RI
Irma Barrios, AccessPoint RI
Kevin Baxter, West Bay RI
Catherine Berardone, LIFE
Xavier Caruthers, The Arc of Bristol County
Monica Clifford, Avatar Residential
Georgette DeBurgo, The Arc of Blackstone Valley
Jared Gervais, Project Friend
Mariha Gomes, Justice Resource Institute
Richard Johnson, United Cerebral Palsy of RI
Zean Kwiyarhe, Corliss Institute
James Litvack, Trudeau Memorial Center
Roxanne Lussier, Opportunities Unlimited
Cynthia Mello, James L. Maher Center
Joshua Moore, Cove Center
Cheikh Ndiaye, Seven Hills R
Norma Palmieri, Perspectives Corporation
Lacey Richmond, The Fogarty Center
Donna Swanson, Representing the Olean Center
Valerie Valdez, ReFocus
Melanie Verduchi, Community Residences, Inc
Lorri White, Looking Upwards
DSPs were also honored in our 2nd Annual Thank You DSPs Video! Thank you to every single person who took their time to be in this production:
Every year, CPNRI also awards a handful of special awards to people who have done incredible and important work in this community. Congratulations to this year's winners:
Bally's Twin River (Nominated by AccessPoint RI, Employer of the year
Frank DiRaimo (Perspectives Corporation), Excellence in Service Award
Ava Voice (Self Advocacy Group with Avatar Residential), Team Unity Award
Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, Governmental Service Award
Dominick Ruggerio, Governmental Service Award
LOOKING AHEAD (AND PICTURES!)
The CPNRI Team is already looking ahead to 2024. We are also committed to celebrating the work of DSPs all year long on social media and beyond.
Tricky lighting made pictures difficult, but please enjoy some below! Thank you for being a part of this community. 💚