Direct Support Professional Recognition Week 2018

Behind the scenes in virtually every agency which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is a quiet hero, a Direct Support Professional (DSP).

Opengate joins the nation in recognizing the hard work and service of DSPs during the annual National Direct Support Professional Week, September 9-15, 2018.  In addition to their dedication, compassion, and skills, they fulfill a critical role in the lives of the vulnerable people who need them most.

DSPs wear various hats as they tend to the unique needs of those they work with on a daily basis. Every individual comes with distinct necessities that a DSP is trained to handle.

The list of responsibilities of a DSP is staggering. They create the foundation of support for each individual in their care, ensuring they receive personalized attention and assistance to achieve their best outcomes.

DSPs nurture and encourage individuals to rise and meet the challenges they face and support their efforts to participate in new interests and pursue their goals, living their lives to the fullest.

Not only are DSPs daily caregivers, they are the liaison between residents and families, sharing in their achievements, and earning trust and loyalty through building relationships. They are the lifeline of our agency, and we honor the work they do every day as they connect with our residents and program participants through their caring and compassion.

Thank you, Direct Support Professionals, for your service to others, your loyalty, and sensitivity. Yours is not just another job that anyone can do, but an honorable profession.


A few of our dedicated Direct Support Professionals

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Thank You, Dr. Amy Ruppmann


When faced with the overwhelming task of securing support services for an individual with disabilities, parents and/or caregivers often are not completely equipped for the long and arduous process.

Opengate staff member, Dr. Amy Ruppmann, recently assisted a neighboring family who reached out to us for help applying for Medicaid Waiver service.

As you can see by the following letter, Amy was able to step in before the family became disheartened by all that is required.

Dear Mr. Hulten,

This correspondence is sorely overdue! My husband and I want to take the opportunity to thank you from the bottom of our hearts, not only for responding to my recent “S.O.S” related to securing help to apply for Medicaid Waiver services and everything else that’s required for eventual group home placement for his adult sister, but for sending us the angel that is Amy Ruppmann!!!! She has been our life-saver, patiently helping us complete the MANY steps, procedures, paperwork, documentation, etc. involved in such processes. To say that she is efficient, thorough, compassionate and one who “goes the extra mile” is a tremendous understatement! We honestly cannot fathom being left to accomplish this overwhelming task alone and are forever grateful that we won’t have to be!

With Sincere Appreciation, Cynthia M. Greco

Although Mr. Greco’s sister is not a resident of Opengate, the family lives near one of our group homes and we were happy to help them.

Dr. Amy RuppmannDr. Amy Ruppmann has been employed at Opengate for approximately 10 years. During this time, she has held positions of Social Work Assistant, Corporate Compliance Specialist, and Personal Outcomes Measures (POMs) interviewer. She recently earned her PhD in Mental Health Counseling and has been promoted to Director of Training and Staff Development.

Many thanks to you, Dr. Ruppmann. Opengate is proud of your ability to accomplish things that others may be unable to do. Your service to our staff members, individuals, and their families is greatly appreciated.

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Opengate Personnel and Staff Changes

Deborah Mayo Named Chief Operating Officer

DeborahMayo (1)Our sincere congratulations go to Deborah Mayo on her recent promotion to Chief Operating Officer of Opengate, Inc. Deborah replaces Randi Rios-Castro who has accepted a position outside of the agency. We all wish Randi well in her future endeavor and thank her for many years of service to Opengate.

12 years ago Deborah Mayo developed a working relationship with Opengate individuals attending her Day Program at the Keon Center. It was suggested she bring her expertise to our agency.

In 2006 Deborah served as Quality Assurance and Medicaid Service Coordination and was promoted to Program Coordinator in 2008. After 2 years she was named Director of Day Habilitation, then Director of Community Programs. With the addition of ICF residences she became Director of Programs and in 2017, Director of Day Services.

New Additions to Opengate Staff

Dr. Elizabeth Melnychuk is our new Medical Director.  She received her doctorate in Osteopathy from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.  Dr. Melnychuk has many years of experience within the OPWDD service delivery system.  She has been the Medical Director at both the Hudson Valley DDSO and Richmond Community Services.  She was the attending physician at both the Westchester Institute for Human Development and St. Jude’s Habilitation Institute.

Ronald Ruphuy is our new Director of Day Services.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle.  Mr. Ruphuy was most recently employed at Another Step Inc. where he held several titles including, Residential Director, Habilitation Director, and Medicaid Service Coordinator.  He also worked in management at United Cerebral Palsy and Children’s Village.

Louis Nieves is our new Incident Management Specialist.  He received his MBA at the New York Institute of Technology and his BS in Business at Nyack College.  He was most recently employed at Innovative Resources of Independence as a Residential Coordinator and spent several years at the Andrus Children Center as a Business Manager and Residential Coordinator.

We would like to welcome Jijo Antony back  to his previously held position as a Behavioral Intervention Specialist.  Mr. Antony has his MSW from Meredian College and most recently worked at Rockland ARC as a Behavioral Intervention Specialist.  He has also worked at Abbott House as a Behavioral Intervention Specialist & Assistant Manager and at St. Agatha’s as a Disability Specialist.

Internal Position Changes

Nadra Grandison (currently the Residence Manager at IRA East) has accepted the Residential Program Coordinator position and will be over seeing the residences at our Somers location.

Sandra Du-Barry (currently the Residential Program Coordinator overseeing the residences in Somers) has accepted the ICF Day Program Manager position.

William Hooke (former manager for the Auerbach ICF) has recently accepted the Residential Management position of the West IRA.  Mr. Hooke will be responsible for the management of both the Auerbach ICF and West IRA.  Effective 8/13/2018.

Charles Ngeri (currently the Lead Counselor at IRA East) has accepted the position of Residence Manager at IRA East.

Jelani Winfield (currently a Direct Support Professional at IRA East / Day Habilitation Program)  has accepted the position of Assistant Manager at IRA West.

Jennifer Siano (currently the Residence Manager at Lissauer IRA) has accepted the position of Residence Manager at the Rivera IRA.  Effective 8/24/2018.

Please join us in welcoming our new and returning employees to Opengate as well as current employees in their new positions.  We wish them all much success in their new work assignments.

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Employee of the Month, July 2018

Employee of the Month (2)

Congratulations to Nadra Grandison for being selected as the Employee of the Month!


Nadra2Nadra has been employed with Opengate since January 2008.  Her positions include Direct Support Professional (DSP), Lead Counselor and Residence Manager.  Nadra has been a supervisor at Opengate for over 10 years.    

Over the course of the past year, one of our IRAs experienced some major challenges. Through it all Nadra maintained a positive attitude, worked diligently supporting her team by being actively involved, even working in a DSP capacity, She served as an excellent role model for her team, and did a great job managing overtime.

Nadra has also worked for the Hudson Valley DDSO as a DSP for over 7 years.  She attended Dutchess Community College where she studied Human Services.

Congratulations to Nadra Grandison from the staff of Opengate for being nominated and elected Employee of the Month by your fellow employees.

Other nominees include:  Richard Johnson

Richard has been involved in the recruitment process and has been out to the malls and local colleges to recruit new staff for the Agency.  Richard has demonstrated leadership in taking initiative toward the betterment of the Agency by demonstrating dependability and responsibilities in his duties as a Lead Counselor.

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To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.


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Siblings as Caregivers

Siblings as Caregivers

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are living longer and often expected to outlive parents who have provided for them and made all decisions concerning their care. When this happens, responsibility for the individual’s well-being falls upon a sibling or other designated family member. Although it’s hoped that families establish an advanced plan for care of the individual, frequently there is no plan in place.

Some siblings have grown up with this inevitability in mind, some even step in before it’s time if they can assist with advocacy in order to help their parents. They gladly take on some of the tasks knowing the individual will be loved, safe, and lead as happy a life as is possible.

Ideally, aging parents will begin legacy planning well in advance allowing each family member to express their feelings and wishes concerning the care of the individual with I/DD. Solutions are not always straightforward, but working within a well structured, but flexible plan make transitions much easier when the time comes.

Certainly, it’s different to be caregiver of a sibling. Family members may be raising their own children, some may have had limited contact with the individual and don’t have a level of understanding about their disability. Or, the siblings may have been separated for long periods of time if they lived outside the home. The expectation that a sibling is available to assume the role of sole caregiver can create strain within family relationships.

Siblings as Caregivers

I’m prepared to become my sister’s legal guardian one day, and whether or not I become her caregiver one day, I just want to know that she’ll be happy, healthy, and loved. I want her to live a life she’s excited about, and I want to do everything I can to make sure she never feels alone. I want the freedom to make a five year plan for myself, make commitments and set goals, and become who and what I need to be for myself and for her because I can’t imagine myself without her. I want us to get older together. It’s something I look forward to.”  -Sofia Barrett-Ibarria (What to Expect When You Become a Sibling’s Sole Caregiver)

At Opengate, we are here to listen to all concerns. Facing new challenges together with parents and all family members, we hope to make seamless transitions for their aging children. Our staff is trained to assist families in creating not only a Life Plan for their I/DD child, but also help them create advanced directives for the time when they are no longer able to make decisions regarding the care of their child.

In the meantime, if you are reading this and have concerns, or need to talk about your situation, our Chief Operating Officer, Deborah Mayo is available to discuss your issues. She can be reached at 914-277-5350, ext. 1113 or email

*photo credit Pixabay

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To stay apprised of the activities taking place at Opengate we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, as well as subscribe to our Newsletter and Blog.


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