New Mexico professional joins 54 others being honored for inclusion, empowerment of people with intellectual & developmental disabilities!
This morning, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) announced that Eligio Velasquez, direct support professional (DSP) for Albuquerque, New Mexico-based ARCA, has been named the 2020 Direct Support Professional of the Year. Velasquez will be honored alongside 54 other DSPs in a virtual awards presentation to be held on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 6.
Velasquez, who has spent all 26 of his years in the profession with ARCA, manages a group home where three men with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) live. These men are able to live in the community, rather than being institutionalized, thanks to the support of Velasquez and his colleagues at ARCA.
According to his nomination, Velasquez has excelled in tailoring the services he delivers to the unique needs of the people he supports. When he observed Bob, one of the men he supports, conversing with someone at a community function using American Sign Language (ASL), for example, Velasquez realized that Bob was far from “nonverbal” as once suspected. Velasquez quickly began researching programs for people with hearing disabilities, secured an ASL interpreter to attend the individual’s medical appointments, and coordinated with staff to identify new avenues for the individual to communicate.
“Eligio’s dedication to person-centered supports was life-changing for Bob, who finally had the ability to express his long-time dreams,” Velasquez’s nomination letter stated. “Eligio was instrumental in creating an environment for Bob to communicate and be understood.” The nomination letter also noted that Velasquez’s own struggle with dyslexia has been instrumental in his drive to deliver person-centered supports that help people with diverse abilities find their voices.
“ANCOR and our Diamond Partner, Relias, co-present the DSP of the Year awards program each year precisely because of people like Eligio. His commitment to ensuring the inclusion of people supported by ARCA enriches not only the lives of those individuals, but the broader Albuquerque community at large. Without committed direct support professionals like Eligio and all of this year’s outstanding award recipients, people with I/DD would have severely limited opportunities to be part of the community,” said ANCOR chief executive officer Barbara Merril.
ANCOR is far from the first to acknowledge Velasquez’s significant contributions to the field of direct support. His nomination letter further articulated his leadership among his peers at ARCA. “Eligio Velasquez is a leader in this demanding field,” the letter continued. “He is innovative and mindful in creating meaningful opportunities for people he supports, trusted and admired by their families and respected among his peers. When he started his career as a DSP 26 years ago, Eligio believed his dyslexia would limit his abilities; today, he is a teacher, mentor and trusted advisor who recognizes the potential in every person and believes everything is possible.”