Hermitage man recognized statewide for creative work as direct support professional

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HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – A Hermitage resident is being recognized for providing long-term support and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Today, we were seeing what he does and the difference that it makes.

Gene Blair is a whiz at video production, but he’s also inclusive as a direct support professional, involving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I like to give people a voice that don’t have a voice and this job has allowed me that opportunity,” Blair said.

The videos have turned into Blair’s passion. He wanted to do more than just help clients at Whole Life Services with daily skills like writing their names. He wanted to introduce them to something more creative.

“He has managed to pull out of them things through this process that helps them in other areas of their life,” said Cindy Vogan, with Whole Life Services.

Things such as reading scripts, that help them read.

Blair uses these people in all aspects of video production. The company is called Get 2 Work.

“My job is to make their strengths and see where they fit into this project, in front of or behind the camera,” Blair said.

He makes sure that the people they’re working with in the Shenango Valley are paying attention to what the intellectually and developmentally disabled can do, not just paying attention and talking to him.

Blair was chosen from 350 nominees as Pennsylvania’s Direct Support Professional of the Year.

“So those are the types of things that we want to see out of direct support professionals. Having our individuals do more creative things, getting them involved in the community and showcasing their strengths as opposed to their weaknesses or their differences,” Vogan said.

“I’m honored to receive the award. I’m honored that people are paying attention,” Blair said.

Blair’s award comes from the National Disability Provider Association ANCOR, which recognizes direct support professionals.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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