How Comm Hab DSP Jon and Annie Explore the World Around Them
Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week: A Series
Meet the multi-faceted DSPs that make up Citizens Options Unlimited
Jon Clemens, Community Habilitation Direct Support Professional (DSP) for Self-Direction, has worked with Elaine Razukas, from Farmingdale, for a little over five years. Each week, Tuesday through Friday, morning to early evening, the two embark on many adventures in their community.
They have done everything you can imagine from pottery and art, flea markets and thrift stores, reading, movies, shopping for clothes and groceries, and Pilates and long walks. They once did a 10-mile walk! This summer, Elaine and Jon won the grand prize for completing the Nassau Library Tour: they visited all 56 libraries across the county!
The two have a lot in common – they are close in age and share similar interests like cartoons, video games, and craving freedom.
“There’s a lot of freedom to Self-Direction, which we both enjoy,” he said. “Being a DSP is a sensible thing for me; I get to be out and about, networking and meeting people with Elaine during the day… And I get the freedom to work on my art and music when I’m not with her.”
Jon recently returned from a national tour with his alternative indie rock band, Coventry Carols, and has had his art and writing published in local magazines and papers, like Vellum Magazine.
“Being a DSP is a juggling act between my kid (Jon and his partner recently adopted), my music, and Elaine,” he said.
The two also have a lot not in common. Jon, who is vegetarian/vegan, has slowly introduced new cuisines to Elaine. So much so that now her parents laugh that she is picky about the foods they used to cook because she now craves things like tofu. Jon also introduced Elaine to the world of Geotagging, an App that invites you to explore the world around you and leads to hidden treasure.
“I push her sometimes, but I always remind her that I wear two hats,” he said. “I am both your friend and your comm hab DSP.”
They learn a lot from each other and have grown into a dynamic duo taking on the town.
“When I first started, Elaine was bored at home and eager to begin exploring the world right away,” he said.
The pairing make their days fun, like “Turnpike Tuesdays,” when they hang out and visit all the shops along the local strip before choosing a place for lunch.
“It’s endless what we do,” he said. “Me and Elaine learn a lot from each other.”
Self-Direction allows for the two to work on social skills and community integration like connection, conversation, memory, expressing your thoughts and emotions, and fostering independence.
Jon fell into the world of disability care after he saw a former colleague’s Facebook post – she was helping her aunt to find a DSP to support her cousin, Elaine.
“We got really lucky being paired together.”