shared courtesy of Chicago Tribune
DES PLAINES, Illinois – For more than 20 years, Antoinette Morris has helped people with intellectual and developmental disabilities achieve the outcomes they want to reach in their lives. Today, Morris was honored for her personal outstanding achievements by being named the 2019 National Direct Support Professional of the Year by the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR).
Morris was selected from a field of nearly 350 nominees. ANCOR’s Direct Support Professional of the Year awards have been presented annually since 2007 in recognition of outstanding professionals who provide long-term supports and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Morris is committed to helping the people she supports achieve their goals and enjoy their success. Last fall, she helped Dwayne fill out an application and prepare for interviews to work at Six Flags Great America’s haunted house during Fright Fest. She took him to and from multiple interviews, and after he got the job, she made herself available to ensure he got to work on time and back home safely. After the seasonal position was over, Morris supported Dwayne in his efforts to get his dream job as a cook, a goal he attained.
Dwayne said Morris is a hard-working person with a heart of gold.
“She truly cares for me and my peers,” he said. “Antoinette is a good listener. She is always there when I need someone to talk to. … For everything she has done for me, I can truly say she is the best support worker I have had the honor to work with.”
Morris puts the people she supports first, ensuring they are able to maintain relationships that are important to them. When Gregg’s mother moved to a different state, Morris helped him learn how to use a video chat program to talk with his mom weekly. When April told Morris she wanted to see her sister, who receives support from a different agency, more often, Morris helped coordinate meetings between the women.
She also goes above and beyond to ensure people are living their best possible lives. While working with a person who needed one-to-one support because of challenging behavior, Morris came up with a plan to help him enjoy life to the fullest by exploring the community, volunteering, and participating in activities and hobbies during the day.
“Antoinette’s support and dedication to people with disabilities has touched so many lives,” said Jen Hodges, director of Trinity Services Northwest. “She sees people as people and supports them to have the same goals and dreams that we all have. She inspires her peers to be creative and dig deeper as they continue on their own journey.”