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For the past four years, Whitnee Payne has served as a Direct Support Professional at HeartShare’s Tunie-Generet Residence for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Whitnee met Phillip right before the residence opened in 2013. On a Friday, Phillip slept over to get adjusted to his new home. On Saturday morning, Whitnee found Phillip in the kitchen, watching staff prepare breakfast. Whitnee quickly noticed Phillip’s love for food, which motivated him learn new skills.
Whitnee saw that Phillip was interested in setting the table. When meals were being prepared, Phillip would place plates on the table to signal to others that it was time to eat. After seeing this a few times, Whitnee helped Phillip set the table completely, which he now does every day with minimal assistance.
“Phillip, who is non-verbal, has taught me patience and how to communicate in other ways. He has showed me that everyone is capable of learning and growing and that there are different ways of teaching people,” explained Whitnee.
Phillip also now knows how to prepare his own snack and use sign language to ask for more food rather than reaching for it.
“We’ve seen a dramatic change in Phillip since he first moved into Tunie-Generet,” said Maria Matrascia, who directs several HeartShare residences. “In the past, people like Phillip were not even taught the most basic daily living skills. Whitnee was a patient teacher and because of her investment, Phillip can do more. That’s what HeartShare is all about.”
For taking the time to help Phillip reach his potential, Whitnee is a 2016 HeartShare Everyday Hero.
Thank you for your work, Whitnee!