Around-the-clock support is beneficial to the health and well-being of adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The assistance provided by Direct Support Professionals (DSP) has been especially valuable during this pandemic. In recognition of DSPs and their often unrecognized efforts, NJACP (New Jersey Association of Community Providers) recently awarded JESPY DSP Rabia El-Hamyani and 29 other recipients throughout New Jersey for their hard work and dedication with a 2020 NJACP DSP Heroes Recognition Award.

Presented via Zoom, the virtual ceremony included pre-recorded words of encouragement from Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy, Senator Cory Booker, and a host of other senators and assembly representatives.

Rabia and the other direct support professionals were nominated by their organizations, which are all NJACP member agencies. Each recipient was chosen for going above and beyond their daily duties throughout the pandemic.

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“Winning this award shows that my employer values my work and contributions to JESPY,” said El-Hamyani. “It is a significant event in my professional career, and I look forward to continuing to positively impact the lives of the individuals I serve and support.”

El-Hamyani has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art & Literature and a Master’s degree in Social Science from Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Morocco. Prior to coming to JESPY, she worked in the field of education for more than 20 years, providing after-school tutoring, and initiating clubs and extracurricular activities for all grade levels. 

During the initial stages of the pandemic, El-Hamyani made in-person trips to the grocery store for clients in JESPY Shared Housing. She also took clients to doctor appointments when needed. She continually reinforced safety and hygiene protocols, which included mask wearing, hand washing, temperature taking, and social distancing. As the pandemic continues, these protocols are still very much in place.

“Rabia consistently exceeds the expectations of what is asked of her within the Shared Housing department, said Shared Housing Supervisor Michelle Rampersant-Faulk, who nominated Rabia for the award. “She has excelled at supporting our older clients who reside in our aging in place house, the Michael Och House, A Center for Aging at JESPY, working closely with them to help them to achieve their goals.”

JESPY House supports 260 clients with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities between the ages of 18 and 73. To learn more, visit jespy.org.