Staff SPOTLIGHT PROFILE – Christine Curley

christine-curley-headshotMeet Christine Curley who has been working at Jawonio for over 21 years.  She started as a Direct Support professional at the Bobbi Lewis House in Chestnut Ridge.  She worked there for about a year then transferred to Moskoff House where she has worked every since.  She moved into the position of House Manager in 1999.  Christine was introduced to Jawonio through her mother, who was a Licensed Practical Nurse at Jawonio and helped set up and open Cummings House.

As House Manager, Christine wears many hats.  She manages the house, staffing, scheduling, ensuring each resident is getting the care they need and advocating for them. Each day is different.  “I love what I do, managing the house and advocating for the residents.  We advocate every day for the best care for them and back them up in the choices that they make to have an independent, self-determined life.”

There is a wide range of needs of the residents of Moskoff House. Some are able to be more independent than others; one resident drives, another goes on an annual cruise with the Coffee House, a social group.  There’s also all age ranges in the house.

Christine went back to school and got certified as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.  This skills and knowledge she gained through this training, benefits her work with the residents, understanding their needs and the therapeutic interventions that are most effective.

She acknowledges that the flexibility and support she has gotten at Jawonio as an employee and  working mom, has been extremely helpful.  “We have a strong team at Moskoff, the staff all works really well together and supports each other.”  Residents stay a long time, staff is consistent.  The professional development the staff participates in includes topical retreats, internal and external trainings that all help to support their work.  She says that the retreats are a great because they deal with situations and concerns that are current for the staff and residents.

Christine has also been involved with Touching Bases, a baseball
league for 240 adults, ages 21 – 80, with disabilities that runs each fall. She has been involved for the past several years, the past three years as a coach for the Jawonio team. She is pictured here with volunteers touching-bases-team-shot-w-volswho assist players each week to throw, catch and run the bases.  She not only is a great coach but wonderful role model for the volunteers.  In fact her two teenage sons, Sean and Chris, have been volunteering with her for the past three years also.

This year we are so excited to congratulate Christine on winning Coach of the Year!

Reflecting on her work Christine says, “With the training I have, I could work in the Occupational Therapy field, but I’d have to leave my place here.  I can’t leave, the guys at Moskoff, they have my heart. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the residents accomplish their goals and dreams. I love it.”

Thank you Christine for making our Jawonio Community such a caring place and Congratulations on earning Coach of the Year!

Employment Breakfast Awards

Last week Jawonio hosted our 23rd Annual Employment Recognition Breakfast at the Tarrytown DoubleTree Hilton. Opening remarks were made by Jill Warner, CEO, Madelon Berger, Board Chair and Stacey Kantrowitz, Progarm Director of Community Employment Services. Jawonio recognized our National Disability Employment Award Winners including; Rockland Music Conservatory, Uniqlo, WEROK, NCTRC, Stony Point Conference Center, Nyack College, TJ Maxx, CVS, Stop & Shop, Yonkers Riverfront Library, CH Martin, Unitex, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Meals on Wheels, Burlington Coat Factory. A highlight of the event was the presentation of the Joslin Outstanding Performance award to Travis Roberts-Leavitt by Bob Hammel of NYSID. Our guest speakers included Amarnauth Mahabal, of Uniqlo and Steven Messina, who works at Burlington Coat Factory. Employees also received award for 20 and 25 years of work through our program. Congratulations to all! 


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Meet Nichelle Brown who is a Job Coach in the Jawonio Community Employment Services Program based in Yonkers and has been at Jawonio for over 5 years. As a Job Coach, Nichelle provides employment supports and coaching to workers placed a companies throughout Westchester County including the DoubleTree by Hilton and Marriot in Tarrytown, Shoprite in New Rochelle among many others.
Before working in Community Employment, Nichelle started at Jawonio in the Day Habilitation program as a counselor. She got to know many of the program participants and othnichelle-with-norbert-shawn-and-david-who-work-at-the-double-treeer staff, then moved over to Employment after two years.

Nichelle got involved in this field from the start of her career. She stared at the Center for Family Support as a care manager where she worked for two years. Her inspiration was her family. She has a brother with a disability and has seen firsthand what’s needed to help a person be as independent as they can.

“The best part of doing my job is seeing the people I work with be happy with where they are and feel good about the work they are doing. Seeing them be independent and succeed is the best reward for me.” Nichelle emphasizes that a key aspect to her work is making sure that the workers are treated fairly in whatever environment they are working in and ensuring that they have the opportunities to address issues that may come up on the job.

DSP Celebration Week – Staff Spotlight Profiles

In honor of National Direct Support Professionals Recognition week in September, Jawonio celebrated the valuable contributions that our DSP staff make to the Jawonio Community by posting personal profiles of a few of our team.


shedlyn-ben-amieMeet Shedlyn Bien-Amie who lives in Spring Valley, NY and works as a Direct Support Professional in Jawonio’s Without Walls (WOW) Program that prepares young people for community life and independence.  She has worked at Jawonio for 3 ½ years, the first few months in the Day Hab at Jawonio Tech, then moved over to WOW.  She has been a DSP for over 6 years.

She was inspired to join the field after the death of her grandmother who she describes as an incredibly strong person, who was always helping others and a nurse by profession.  Shedlyn was visiting with her grandmother one afternoon when she became very quiet.  As Shedlyn brushed her grandmother’s hair and chatted with her she layed down and stopped talking, and eventually stopped breathing.  She passed away in Shedlyn’s arms.  She hadn’t known at the time, but her grandmother had been seriously ill. This experience made her decide to pursue the DSP field and care for others.

She took medical assistant training and started working in Pediatrics, then moved to another agency working with adults and then to Jawonio.  Her goal was to work in a career to help others and that is just what she is doing.

“I learn from the consumers I work with every day.  It is very rewarding to be part of a team that works so well together despite differences, which is so very important.  Helping others with the things that they can’t do for themselves makes me happy.”

DSP Spotlight – APRIL COBB

april-cobb-croppedMeet April Cobb who lives who lives in Garnerville, N.Y. and has worked at Jawonio for three years.  She started at the O’Neil House and now works with the Seniors Day Program as a Direct Support Professional.  What inspired her to join the field was her background in social work.  April has a Bachelor’s in Social Work and worked in the Foster Care field as a caseworker for over fifteen years.  After being laid-off, she was looking for work for a while and decided to look for a change.  That is when she came across the DSP opportunity at Jawonio.

“My background in social work has given me an understanding of how to manage people and see them as individuals with unique needs and personality.  Being able to understand where a person is coming from and what is prompting how they are behaving is important in being a DSP.”  April’s background in social work also gives her a clear understanding of service planning for each individual she works with.

Her current position at Jawonio is her first experience working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in particular seniors.  She has done a lot of training to prepare her for the work such as “SKIP” training which stands for Strategies, Crisis, Intervention, Prevention, as well as training on nutrition, medication, choke prevention, fire safety, all of the core training.  She enjoys her work with the seniors very much, “the best reward for me is helping the people I work with. I get a kick out of their personalities and interacting with them every day.  Being compassionate and non-judgmental are both very important qualities to do this work.”


jean-destine-headshotMeet Jean Destine who is a Direct Support Professional at Jawonio’s Fisher House.  Jean lives in Spring Valley, N.Y. and has worked at Jawonio for over 15 years as a DSP.  Before working for Jawonio he worked for 8 years as a DSP at a DDSO.

“I chose this field because I love it.  It is interesting to work with the guys, keeping them safe and taking care of them.  I do everything I can to protect them in their environment and help them do the things they need to do on a daily basis.”  His daily routine starts 6:30am when he checks-in with the consumers he works with, helps them get ready for their day with dressing, eating breakfast, giving them medication and preparing them to go out for the day for activities, doctor’s appointments and programs.

Jean says that one of the most important things about the training for being a Direct Support Professional is learning to understand what consumers needs are and how to make them comfortable.


margaret-butlerMeet Margaret Butler who is a Direct Support Professional at Jawonio’s Seniors Program.  Raised in Rockland County, she currently lives in Nanuet, N.Y. and has worked for Jawonio for over 20 years.  She started off as a cook at the Katzen Pre-School.  When that position ended, she needed to decide what to do next and an opportunity to work as a DSP came up.  This gave her the opportunity to stay with Jawonio.  She moved to a DSP position in the houses and eventually became a House Coordinator.  She moved over to the Seniors Program about eighteen months ago.

Her decision to pursue the DSP position originally was inspired by her relationship with the consumers.  It made her decide to stay at Jawonio and she wanted to work closely with them.

“One of the most rewarding parts of the job for me are when I am helping a consumer with an activity in the program and that consumer then does it for themselves…because they were really watching me and learning how to do it.  It feels great to see that I have taught them something and they are doing for themselves.”

There has been a lot of hands on training to prepare me for this work.  Core Training and the classroom training is important but where she’s learned the most is during hands-on training, when another staff mentor has shown her what to do.

“You really don’t know what to do until you are in a real live situation.  I am so grateful to my colleagues here at Jawonio who really helped me learn.”


martha-colonMeet Martha Colon who lives in West Haverstraw New York and works at Jawonio’s Day Hab program in New City.  Martha has worked at Jawonio for over seventeen years.  She started at Moskoff House as a DSP, then moved into the Workshop program and finally into Day Hap.  She also helps cover work in the houses when needed and does homecare at another community agency in the area.

She started in this career for different reasons, opportunity and caring for others being at the top of her list.  She knew it was her calling from the very beginning of working at Jawonio. She talks about the people and how everyone was so friendly and open right away when she started, from the other staff to the consumers.  The most rewarding part of her job is the interactions she has with the consumers.  “The seniors teach me so much.  They show so much love when I work with them and I get such reward from giving and helping.  You have to have it in you to give.”

Martha says that working at Jawonio is like being a part of a big family.  She says she can really count on her co-workers and supervisor every day.  There is always someone who will listen and help if you need.

Martha starts her routine each day at about 8am and usually works until 4pm.  She accompanies consumers and supports them in the community on their daily routine like trips to the store to shop for items they need and to programs.  The goal is interaction and integration in the community.


bernadette-dorisco-solo-shot-at-fisher-houseBernadette Dorisca, originally from Nippes, Haiti currently resides in Garnerville, NY and works at Jawonio at Fisher House as a Direct Support Professional.  She has worked in this position for the past four years.  She also works as a Certified Nursing Assistant at a nursing home nearby.  When she first came to the U.S. she stayed at home raising her young son for a few years.  When she decided she wanted to go to work, she spoke to a close friend who suggested she take classes to become a Certified Nursing Aide since she was interested in the medical field and helping others.  “I like the work because I like helping people.  My main goal is to help others.”

Her day starts at 6:30am when she does her rounds and checks up on the consumers she takes care of, bernadette-dorisco-w-monica-at-fisher-househelps them prepare for their day with personal care such as dressing and getting breakfast.  Then the days program, lunch and taking care of the personal needs of the people she works with throughout the day.  She finishes up at 3pm.  “Jawonio is a really good place to work. It’s good because of the consumers and my co-workers.  I love the people who I work with here and I feel the love back.”  Bernadette is pictured here with Monica, resident of Fisher House.


Thank you Bernadette, Martha, Margaret, Jean, April and Shedlyn for your dedication and hard work to make the Jawonio Community a safe and supportive place everyday.

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Halloween Celebration

It was a great day for a Halloween parade at the Katzen PreSchool here at Jawonio.  We were delighted that it was a beautiful day and we welcomed our elected officials who enjoyed handing out treats to all of the excited boys and girls.

We hope everyone enjoys a safe and happy Halloween!

Pictured are Jerry Staller, Division Director of Clinical and Educational Services, Jill Warner, CEO, NYS Senator David Carlucci, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and George Hoehmann, Clarkstown Supervisor.

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