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May 21, 2013

Area life coach wins state recognition

By Cheryl Petersen
Contributing Writer

---- — Heidi Friedman, a local life coach, has been awarded a statewide honor by The Arc, a 60-year-old national organization, and ANCOR, an associated organization.

The community-based organization advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. DelArc, the Delaware County chapter, is one of more than 700 state and local chapters nationwide.

The Arc encompasses all ages and all spectrums from autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X and many other developmental disabilities. 

On another wave length, American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), also national, is a trade association representing more than 800 private providers, servicing more than 400,000 individuals with disabilities. ANCOR, in its continued activism to ensure well-trained and sustainable direct support workforces, offers an annual Direct Support Person (DSP) Award.

“We have so many qualified and excellent DSP’s at DelArc, that all the directors joined together to nominate one for the ANCOR Recognition Award,” said Catherine Tweedie, Director of Community Relations at DelArc. “It’s a nice way not only to thank the DSPs for their dedication, but also to bring to the public’s attention the important and essential work Direct Service Professionals do.”

At the beginning 2013, detailed nominations are sent to ANCOR, where the list was whittled to one winner per state. Nominees are judged on the work they’ve done to build social networks, substantiate community participation and advocate for the people they support.

Friedman, Life Coach VII at Community Living Skills (CLS) in Arkville, was selected by ANCOR as the 2013 Direct Support Person of the Year for New York state.

“We at The Arc of Delaware County are very proud of Heidi. She reflects the quality of services provided by her and our agency,” said Tweedie.

The Arc said Friedman was selected because of her background as a person who builds relationships with the people she supports. Her approaches to support are innovative and creative. For example, the imaginative idea to place a walkie-talkie in the hoodie of a client who was leading a hike allowed for the client to experience confidence as he led the hikers while being encouraged verbally through the walkie-talkie.

In her seven years on the job as a Direct Support Person, Friedman has been promoted multiple times. She advocates in Delaware County and across the nation, representing the community during Shift Happens training, teaching direct support staff about the positive approach taken here.

Friedman received her award at the ANCOR Annual Conference in Washington D.C., a few weeks ago. Friedman attended the conference with Hope Townsend, program director at Arkville.

“We attended the conference and did some sightseeing,” said Friedman. “I’m honored by the award and pleased to see that The Arc is ahead of the game, light years ahead in their work with the disabled.” 

In Washington, the DelArc representatives engaged in dialogue as to how to improve services for the approximately 300 disabled in Delaware County.

“The Conference lasted three days, and everyone here at home pitched in, covering me and Hope on the job, so we could attend,” said Friedman. “I received the DSP Award at the main ceremony.”

Friedman, along with Townsend, also listened in on seminars and took the time to walk around the Capitol and visit the Smithsonian. 

Back in Delaware County, Friedman, was recently found championing students Gerry and Kelly at the Creating Art Together program offered at the Catskill Mountain Artisans Guild in Margaretville. The program has been going on for two years with art classes held on Friday mornings.

“Gerry, the comedian, singer, and dancer, is also artistic,” said Friedman, “and Kelly, our friendly, thoughtful Kelly, has really grown over the last 5 years.”

Many of the projects learned at the program can be practiced throughout the week. Artist Nat Thomas assists teaching the students new techniques in a comfortable social environment. When asked why they like coming to Creating Art Together, both Gerry and Kelly said, “Because it makes us feel happy.”

“The only Friday I’ve missed was the Friday I was in Washington D.C.” said Friedman.