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Everyday Heroes originated as a New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) initiative “to recognize and honor the wellsprings of engagement, compassion and caring that flow through the hands, hearts and heads of direct support workers.”
HeartShare’s Everyday Heroes program recognizes the contributions that Direct Support Professionals make in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly in being part of their local communities. Community inclusion is about assisting individuals in making personally meaningful connections and in forming relationships with people who are not disabled.
To encourage and sustain Everyday Heroes values and practices at HeartShare, a Leadership Committee was created to direct the Everyday Heroes initiative. Its role is to discuss the Everyday Heroes concept, vet ideas on how to make the concept part of daily work and ensure that HeartShare celebrates and supports its DSPs.
Subcommittees, comprised of HeartShare employees, organizes two annual luncheons that recognize DSP leadership at the program level (for example, at HeartShare residences, day habilitation programs and education programs for children and adults diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disabilities) for implementing Everyday Heroes concepts in their programs.
During the luncheon, nominated Everyday Heroes share their stories and best practices with other HeartShare Direct Support Professionals. June is Everyday Heroes Month during which the Everyday Heroes sub-committees and the agency overall promotes and publicizes the efforts and accomplishments of Everyday Heroes in internal and external publications.
The concept of the Everyday Heroes quilt was designed and created by Dr. Beth Mount, as an example of person-centered publications and art work. HeartShare’s Everyday Heroes quilt is on permanent display at its MetroTech main office.