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Up Close with EIHAB’s Direct Support Professionals


Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are some of the hardest working staff you will meet at any human services agency. The exceptional care that EIHAB’s DSPs provide to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is truly life changing, helping to enhance the independence of hundreds of individuals who call EIHAB home.


We are proud to launch our new blog that highlights the outstanding work that takes place at EIHAB every day, shining the spotlight on several DSPs who are committed to making a difference and helping our individuals to thrive.

At the Office


Management; 4/2024

Throughout my tenure at Eihab, my supervisors demonstrate exemplary leadership qualities on a consistent basis. The unwavering support that I obtained from them has enriched my professional trajectory considerably. A noteworthy aspect was the extraordinary degree of guidance and support I obtained in my capacity as the newly appointed Director of the Day Hab Program. Moreover, their policy of maintaining an open door towards me has created a conducive atmosphere wherein I am at ease expressing my thoughts and apprehensions. They both bring a great deal of enthusiasm to the workplace. The time I spent working under their supervision was extremely valuable. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.


Positivity You Can Appreciate.


Direct Support Professional, 5 years

As a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at EIHAB, I have found my career to be deeply fulfilling and rewarding. The sense of camaraderie and support among colleagues creates a work environment that feels like a second family. EIHAB values its employees and provides ample opportunities for growth and development, including ongoing training and professional advancement.



The positive impact we have on our individuals and their families is truly inspiring. Seeing the progress and achievements of the individuals we support reinforces my passion for this work every day. I am grateful to be part of such a dedicated and compassionate team at EIHAB, where every day brings new opportunities to make a difference and positively impact lives


Financial Accounant

What sets EIHAB apart is its commitment to excellence in providing care and support to individuals with disabilities. I am proud to be part of an organization that prioritizes compassion, empathy, and inclusivity in everything we do. Working at EIHAB has allowed me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others while also experiencing personal and professional growth.


Direct Support Professional

Starting as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) at EIHAB was challenging, but now, it's incredibly rewarding. The initial hurdles I faced were met with great support and guidance from my colleagues and supervisors. EIHAB truly values its employees and provides the resources needed to succeed.


EIHAB DSP Spotlight: Hermline Calliste


Hermline Calliste has been working at EIHAB for nearly three years. While working as a DSP at the agency’s Pilling 111 residence, Hermline helps to care for eight extraordinary women, ranging from 20 to 55 years old.


Throughout her shifts, Hermline offers nurturing guidance and encouragement, helping individuals strengthen their daily living skills and meet their goals toward greater self-sufficiency. “I treat every task like an activity, not a job,” she explains. “I make it fun for them.” In the morning, individuals have the opportunity to choose their favorite music to play during breakfast, putting them in a good mood to start the day. They actively set the table, organizing placemats, plates, and utensils before each meal. “With every activity, individuals become more confident, comfortable, and happy,” Hermline points out.


When it comes to daily grooming and hygiene, Hermline makes those activities fun, too. “I enjoy braiding the ladies’ hair and having nice conversations with them,” she says. “When they feel pretty and look pretty, it makes them feel really good.”


Hermline’s nurturing, supportive demeanor stems from her 13-year teaching career in her home country of Grenada. “When I taught kindergarten, I learned all about having patience and helping others. It’s like second nature to me. This doesn’t feel like a job. It’s just me being me.”


Hermline’s gentle approach has had a wonderful impact on the ladies of Pilling 111. In the time that she’s worked at the residence, Hermline has seen marked improvement in their behavior and increased self-sufficiency.


“When I first started working there, I used to have to wake the individuals each morning; now they wake up themselves,” Hermline says.


Communication skills have also improved dramatically. “I teach individuals how to communicate their needs and self-advocate,” Hermline explains. If individuals need help showering or dressing themselves, they know to ask for assistance.  Any time they’re curious or unsure about something, Hermline encourages them to ask questions. And they often do! “We talk about everything,” Hermline says. “The ladies know that they can always come to me.”


Hermline is right by their side, offering guidance and support whenever they need it, especially during medical appointments. She also accompanies individuals on community outings and marvels at the continued progress that she has seen. “When we’re at the deli, individuals display excellent money management skills. It makes them feel more independent,” she points out. Kings Plaza and Dollar Tree are other popular shopping destinations that individuals enjoy.


In her work, Hermline remains accessible at all times. She never hesitates to work extra shifts, and her dedication is deeply appreciated by both individuals and staff.  “Hermline goes above and beyond to help individuals,” says Melisa Adams, Residential Manager, Pilling 111. “She wears many hats at the residence – she’s a hairdresser, a counselor, she does everything. She is very attentive and always makes the individuals feel that she is engaged with them.”


For anyone starting out in the human services field, Hermline has sage advice for new DSPs to succeed. “Always have a calm demeanor. If an individual is upset, never get mad or raise your voice. And always practice good listening skills,” she advises.


For Hermline, the individuals’ happiness is what matters the most. If they are happy, then she is happy. “The smiles on their faces inspire me,” Hermline says. “I know I can make a difference. That’s what makes me want to come to work every day. “



Thank you Hermline for everything that you do!


EIHAB DSP Spotlight: Mabi Lemus


Mabi Lemus joined the outstanding team at Bohemia Day Hab as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) when the program opened at the end of 2020. During a fragile time when the world was filled with uncertainty, Mabi quickly stepped up to the plate to make sure individuals’ needs were met and that they continued to meet their goals remotely during the pandemic. She also played an integral role in keeping individuals safe, reiterating the importance of hand hygiene and mask wearing, as well as general safety practices around the house. 


These days, much of the Day Hab activities have shifted back to in-person, allowing individuals to work on money management goals, reading skills, and more, as they enjoy opportunities for increased socialization and community inclusion. “We try to schedule different activities that provide learning and fun,” Mabi says. Ice cream making and a trip to a local Science Center are among many activities that individuals have enjoyed recently.       


Bohemia’s Day Hab participants also learn vocational skills and the importance of giving back to the community. Mabi has been instrumental in securing volunteer opportunities at Pronto Food Pantry and Island Harvest Food Bank. Natalie Sandy-Rael, Program Manager, Bohemia Day Hab, explains, “Staff were tasked with finding new volunteer sites once COVID restrictions eased. Mabi embraced the team challenge and ran with it!”    


While performing various group leader tasks, Mabi has developed essential leadership skills. She builds the calendar and schedules volunteers to deliver food to Pronto and Island Harvest on a daily basis. Individuals also volunteer at a nearby Handy Pantry convenience store, where they help to wipe down shelves and keep track of expiration dates.


“Individuals are very excited about volunteering,” Mabi says. “Some were participating one or two times a week, and now they volunteer every day!”   


Mabi’s fondness for EIHAB’s individuals shines through whenever she discusses her work. She enjoys the great rapport that she has built with them, and she has also developed strong relationships with family members. “Individuals tell their families about what they do at the program and families express their gratitude for the work that I am doing,” Mabi points out. 


Natalie praises Mabi for never hesitating to go above and beyond at Bohemia Day Hab. “When our receptionist was out, Mabi helped to work the front desk. She is also bilingual and serves as an interpreter when communicating with families who speak Spanish,” Natalie explains. “Mabi is lifesaver.”

For Mabi, being a DSP is more than a job. She truly enjoys what she does. “I like to see the individuals happy,” she says. “I love working with all of our Day Hab participants. I have found my calling!”


Thank you Mabi for everything that you do at EIHAB!


EIHAB DSP Spotlight: Granby Etienne


Granby Etienne joined EIHAB Human Services as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) four-and-a-half years ago. While assisting individuals at the agency’s Tiff Ct 29 residence, he has been deeply dedicated to ensuring the highest quality care for the nine intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals who call EIHAB home.


Together with his Tiff Ct 29 colleagues, Granby teaches important life skills to individuals and helps them to create a daily routine to familiarize themselves with different tasks. “We pick them up from their day program, we shower them, and prepares their meals…but most of all, we encourage them,” Granby explains.


Support and encouragement are instrumental in helping individuals to build self-confidence and overcome any behavioral challenges. “We surround individuals with positivity and accommodate them the best way possible,” Granby says.  


When caring for individuals, Granby’s nurturing, soft-spoken demeanor helps to keep them calm when they’re having a challenging day. “If someone is non-verbal and is having trouble expressing themselves, I give them a glass of water, or I take them outside for some fresh air. This helps to relax them,” he explains.


He also lends a soothing hand when it’s time to give individuals their medication. If they don’t want to take their meds, Granby never argues with them. “I just try again later and talk to them. Then they take their meds,” he says. It’s a testament to the strong level of trust he has built with the individuals.


When it comes to completing household tasks, Granby has watched individuals achieve significant progress in those areas as well. “They’re particularly helpful with the laundry. They pick up the clothes and bring the basket downstairs,” Granby points out.


As he continues to help individuals build greater independence and self-sufficiency at Tiff Ct 29, Granby offers these wise words of advice for new DSPs starting out in the field: “Stay focused on what you do, and try to put yourself in the individuals’ shoes. Like what you do, and success will follow.”


Thank you Granby for all that you do!

DeirdreThompson_EIHAB (1).jpg

EIHAB DSP Spotlight: Deirdre Thompson


Deirdre Thompson has worked as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in EIHAB’s Queens Village Day Habilitation Program since May 2018. Described by her colleagues as “a creative, outgoing, and glowing person,” Deirdre never hesitates to go above and beyond to ensure that individuals reach their goals and thrive in the community. She’s one of the first staff to arrive and one of the last people to leave, often taking on extra shifts whenever needed.


Deirdre usually begins her day by picking up individuals at their Queens homes to bring them to program. Since individuals on her route are non-ambulatory, she takes extra precautions to make sure they’re transported safely. And she always shows up with a smile on her face. “If you greet individuals well, they’ll have a good day, and so will you,” Deirdre says.


When she’s supervising Day Hab participants, Deirdre offers support and encouragement to motivate them to achieve their goals. “One individual is writing his name,” Deirdre says proudly.


Tabletop activities, such as puzzles and board games, play an important role in enhancing individuals’ cognitive skills and hand coordination. Arts and crafts offer a way for individuals to express their creative side, especially during a holiday. This past Valentine’s Day, individuals created beautiful hearts to decorate the Day Hab room. And of course, there was a party. Celebrations epitomize the family-like environment that Deirdre and her colleagues aim to create.


“Seeing individuals enjoying their day is a great feeling,” Deirdre explains. “They’re enthusiastic about coming here. I always try to be here so they can be here.”

Even in the most challenging times, Deirdre is ready to make a difference. She worked straight through the pandemic onsite, while individuals took part remotely.


As the pandemic continues to ease, Deirdre is excited about the increase in community outings. Community inclusion activities are among what Deirdre likes best about working in human services – she’s been in the field since 1988!


“Shopping excursions provide the opportunity for individuals to select items that they want to purchase, as they communicate with other members of the community,” Deirdre points out.

One of her favorite memories occurred last summer when she accompanied individuals to the Canarsie Pier. “We had lunch and watched the fishermen. Individuals interacted with the fisherman and learned about the fish,” Deirdre recalls.


Staying active and keeping a positive attitude are Deirdre’s go-to tips for anyone looking to become a DSP. “As long as you continue to work with individuals, you will see progress. I love this field and working with individuals. Anything that makes them happy, makes me happy.”

EIHAB DSP Spotlight: Elham Elnour


Elham Elnour has been working as a Direst Support Professional (DSP) at EIHAB for approximately ten years. Soon after joining the agency, she received a taste of the family-like atmosphere that exists at EIHAB’s residences – a memory that remains close to her heart one decade later.


“I worked a double shift during Mother’s Day weekend, and afterwards, the individuals asked me what I was doing for the holiday,” Elham recalls. “When they found out that I had no special plans, they decided to organize a celebration.”


One of the individuals, who is travel-trained, went to the store to purchase some of    Elham’s favorite snacks, which Elham enjoyed at the party that individuals threw in her honor. “That was one of my best Mother’s Day’s,” Elham says. “I cried tears of joy. It was so special, and it inspired me to stay for ten years!”


For Elham, EIHAB’s individuals are the reason why she comes to work every day. She has cherished the journey of getting to know them, and building a rapport that remains strong. “The individuals stole my heart,” Elham says.


While caring for the five individuals who call the Canarsie residence home, Elham helps them to master “the everyday things that we all do.” She helps them to meet their goals, such as enhancing their money management skills and their ability to perform household tasks. With each activity, Elham has witnessed continuous growth, as well as increased self-awareness and time management skills.


She does her best to reduce any triggers associated with behavioral challenges, building on the trust and rapport that she has successfully built over the years. Elham explains, “If individuals ever feel angry, they know they can come talk to me.”


That same trust and communication also pertain to community activities. “If we’re in a store and an individual wants to buy something, they know they can ask me for a second opinion before making their purchase,” she points out.  


In addition to neighborhood stores, Elham also enjoys accompanying individuals to the mall, movies, and other recreational outings. She also accompanied them on a recent vacation to Pennsylvania that the residence organized.


Elham never hesitates to provide support to individuals, often taking on extra shifts when needed. During Hurricane Sandy, she remained at the residence for three days in a row to ensure the residence had ample coverage. When the Canarsie area faced serious flood damage as a result of the storm, she helped to transport EIHAB’s individuals to a temporary residence to keep them safe. Throughout the pandemic, Elham was (and remains) instrumental in helping individuals adapt to the many safety protocols that have been implemented.

EIHAB DSP Spotlight: James Omieri


James Omieri has worked in the human services field for two decades. He joined EIHAB’s outstanding Pennsylvania team as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in 2017, overseeing the care of individuals living in one of EIHAB’s several residences in the Lehigh Valley. He also served as a manager there.


Currently, James works the overnight shift, tending to any needs individuals may have. In the morning, he’s by their side to assist with bathing, grooming, and breakfast preparation if needed. He also makes sure individuals take their medication so they can remain safe and healthy.


Prior to his current schedule, James worked the day and evening shifts, enabling him to forge a strong bond with the individuals. “I got to learn their likes and dislikes, favorite foods, and different activities that they enjoy,” James explains.


Outings to shopping malls, restaurants, movie theaters, and sporting events are among the many recreational activities that individuals have enjoyed. “Anywhere they want to go in the community, we’re there,” James says. “They get to choose and do something different every day of the week. It’s not about us, it’s about them.”


EIHAB’s Pennsylvania location also allows individuals to connect with nature. “We have a zoo nearby, tons of parks, even a fish hatchery,” James points out. He loves watching individuals embrace life’s simple pleasures, like listening to the sound of trains as they approach the local railroad station. During Musikfest, a popular festival in Bethlehem, individuals bought souvenirs and enjoyed food and music.


In more challenging times, James helped to alleviate cabin fever at the height of the pandemic by taking individuals for a ride around the neighborhood in the agency van (safety protocols were, and still are, always followed). In more “normal” times, community excursions remain among James’ favorite memories at EIHAB, with one outing resonating in particular. “We took a ride to a shopping center that was about 45 minutes away,” James recalls. “One of the individuals was especially excited to be there. He was laughing and smiling all the way home.”


In addition to enabling wonderful community inclusion, James has also helped individuals strengthen their independent living skills. He’s guided individuals as they successfully perform a number of household tasks, including setting the table, loading the dishwasher, folding clothes and putting them away.   


Around the residence, James just wants individuals to feel comfortable and know that it’s their home. “It’s their place. DSPs are just there to foster as much independence as possible,” he says.


Collaboration is key. “Teamwork and good communication with colleagues can help shape someone’s day,” James says. “If an individual had trouble sleeping, it’s up to the overnight staff to alert the morning shift that the person might be tired that day.”


A positive attitude is also essential to succeed as a DSP. When helping individuals to achieve their goals, James always maintains a great attitude. “Be calm, patient, and proactive to help build trust and relationships. Positivity affects everything and helps you get to where you need to go,” he points out.


For James, that includes attending school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), another ideal job for someone with patience and compassion like James. He was inspired to attend college by his daughter, who’s currently in school. He and his wife also have a son.


James is hoping to balance an LPN career with his current DSP profession and judging by his outstanding motivation and commitment, we’re sure that he will succeed!


Thank you James for your great work and dedication at EIHAB!

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