Potomac Center honors Support Professionals of Year

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Potomac Center CEO Rick Harshbarger (center) congratulates second runner-up Courtney Raines (left) and Direct Support Professional of the Year Brandon Walsh while keeping a proper social distance.

ROMNEY - The Potomac Center of Romney is West Virginia’s only residential facility for the state’s most challenging children and adults with an intellectual or developmental disability.

Annually it honors three of its direct support professionals who are chosen are a second runner up, first runner up and most prestigiously the Direct Support Professional of the Year.

This year’s winner was Brandon Walsh. Brandon works at the Potomac Center Birch Lane Group Home. This is what was said about Brandon in his nominations:

“Sadly we live in a world that is quick to spot out shortcomings and mistakes. Yet, when a person is able to turn things around and not only get back on track, but is able to become a border line rock star of a staff, it can unfortunately go unnoticed. But, I am proud to say Potomac Center loves and has an amazing comeback story.

“A person can learn a lot over a lifetime, but one thing you cannot teach someone is heart. Caring and true compassion is a vital part of being a direct support professional. There are many different qualities that make a great direct support professional and they are the ability to provide the best care possible to the individuals we serve, to get along with co-workers, and to be dependable.

“When individuals get excited when they see certain staff it speaks volumes. Keeping our kids active being out and about plays a huge part in our program. Brandon can always be found walking through town, or out with their assigned clients. Multiple staff has said that Brandon is one of their favorite to work with.”

When asked about what winning the award meant to him, Brandon said. “We make a living by what we get, but we make life by what we give. One day it just clicks… You realize what is important and what is not important. You learn to care less about what other people think of you and more about what you think of yourself. You realize how far you’ve come and you remember when you thought things were such a mess that they’d never recover and then you smile. You smile because you are truly proud of yourself and the person you have fought to become.”

First runner-up was Miranda Vetter, who works at Potomac Center’s Hampshire Place location. Some of the things said in her nomination were: “Miranda is very supportive of the residents living at Hampshire Place. She allows them to make decisions for themselves and supports them in understanding the consequences of their actions.

“Since COVID-19 precautions have been in effect Miranda has helped support the individuals in helping them to understand why they cannot go to the workshop and to other places they enjoy going in the community.

“Miranda is very respectful to the residents and she supports them in understanding their rights by exhibiting leadership at Hampshire Place. She is the staff we contact to get things done.

“By adjusting her schedule to meet the needs of the house she is always very professional when interacting with others outside of Potomac Center and also her co-workers.”

When asked about what being nominated meant to her, she said. ”I enjoy working at Potomac Center. My co-workers and the individuals I work with have become like my family. Watching the residents grow and achieve their goals is heartwarming, so to receive the award for First Runner up of Direct Support Professional of the Year for doing something that I love and pride myself in is gratifying and fulfilling.”

Courtney Raines was this year’s second runner-up. Some of the things said in her nomination were: “At any given time if you happen to see Courtney on campus, you will see her with a smile on her face. She is always positive and happy whether it is early in the morning or late at night. She is hands down one of the most reliable staff at the Potomac Center. She is a go to person when someone is needed for coverage.”

When asked about what being nominated meant to her, she said. ”It was really shocking! I’m so grateful for being chosen and happy to work here.”

“The direct support professionals are the most important part in what makes the Potomac Center do the great work it does,” said Rick Harshbarger, Potomac Center’s CEO.

“I am proud of all these wonderful folks, especially our highest honoree Brandon Walsh. His story is truly amazing.”