For many, the transformational and life-altering work of direct service professionals—especially those who work with developmentally disabled clients—is self-evident.
And yet the heroism of Armando Rosado, a direct service professional at HeartShare, an organization that assists individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities, exemplifies the dramatic impact a caring front-line worker can have on a client’s life.
Rosado has spent several years with HeartShare, developing close relationships with his clients as he manages their daily care, facilitating transportation to and from habilitation programs and administering prescriptions. He also works closely with the family members of clients, making sure that residents are able to connect with loved ones through frequent home visits.
“Many of our individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are nonverbal,” Rosado explained. “Often, they can only communicate through subtle glances. It’s our job to make sure that they are heard and have a voice. I want to be there for our clients, many of whom have been overlooked and disregarded by society for their entire lives.”
Rosado formed one particularly close bond with John, a resident at HeartShare’s Clinton Residence.
“We always went for a morning walk to buy the newspaper and then watched the football game together. It was our Sunday tradition,” Rosado said.
After five years of establishing a trusting relationship, Rosado was called to action at a critical moment. One evening while eating dinner, John abruptly got up from the table, panicking, flailing and unable to speak. Rosado recognized that John was choking and immediately administered CPR, bringing the traumatic experience to a swift resolution.
“There was simply no time to think,” Rosado recalled. “I acted as quickly as I could.”
For Rosado, the terrifying episode brought into focus the essential nature of his work and the importance of his training.
“John hugged me and thanked me over and over again,” Rosado said. “I never thought I would ever have to use CPR. But if it weren’t for that training, John might not be here today.”
Rosado was recently recognized by HeartShare’s Everyday Heroes program, which was originally founded by the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to single out outstanding work in human services organizations.
Eunice Beck, director of special projects and family support services for HeartShare, says recognizing exemplary behavior of direct service professionals like Rosado is a key element of providing high-quality services.
“Everyday Heroes is not only about staff appreciation, but also a demonstration of best practices. It’s inspiring to see employees bonding over the joys and challenges of their work, as well as to learn from one another in order to do the best job possible,” Beck explained.
But Rosado sees best practices simply as part of his job description.
“I just try to go about my daily routine to help clients live a healthier and happier life at home and in the community,” he said.