It is the mission
of Disabled Persons Action Organization
to provide quality and effective individualized services to developmentally disabled children and adults in Jefferson and Lewis Counties.  The services are primarily geared toward helping families cope with the stress of caring for their disabled loved ones.

Welcome to the online home of Disabled Persons Action Organization!

For 40 years, DPAO has provided needed services to residents of Jefferson and Lewis Counties.  We encourage you to learn more about the programs and services of our organization.  We also hope that you return regularly to this site for up to date information on our cultural productions as well as our Summer Concert Series.

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November 8, 2022


DPAO wants to get out the good news!  All of our programs are up and running without restrictions ... no more masks and no more limitations on capacity!

 Please come back and see us, we miss you!


If you are new or unfamiliar with some of our programs, give us a call or send us an email and we can provide you with more information and a tour of our sites. Program contact information below ...


Jennifer LaVere

Day Habilitation Coordinator

(315) 782-5285, Extension 232


Mary Ochoa

Employment Program Coordinator

(315) 782-5285, Extension 235


Ashley Pennock

Self-Direction Program Coordinator

(315) 782-5285, Extension 228

Kheana Arana

Site Based Respite/Recreation Coordinator

(315) 782-5285, Extension 231


KJ Simmons

Jefferson County Free Standing Respite Coordinator

(315) 782-2485


Tina Nortz

Lewis County Free Standing Respite Coordinator

Lewis County Recreation Coordinator

(315) 376-8327


What does DPAO do?  Watch Austin's story and listen to what DPAO has done for him!


Direct Support Professional Superhero Pic

THANK YOU to all of our Direct Support Professionals (DSP’s) for all that you do! We recognize all of your hard work and the skills necessary for you to do your job. DSP's have the most impact on the individuals we serve!

Core Competencies are the foundation of person-centered supports for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities. The competencies are broken down into seven goal areas covering all aspects of the individual’s life, while also including the professionalism of direct support ...

  • Putting People First
  • Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships
  • Demonstrating Professionalism
  • Supporting Good Health
  • Supporting Safety
  • Having a Home
  • Being Active and Productive in Society

In an effort to continue this recognition, we plan on spotlighting a Direct Support Professional of the Month ... every month!



Mary Ochoa

Mary Ochoa Pic

Mary was nominated by the vocational team at DPAO! Mary exemplifies everything a Supervisor should be and more! She is a strong leader and will always make herself available to our team when needed. Mary demonstrates professionalism by working with staff and the individuals we support in a positive manner and with a positive attitude when issues arise. She is a good listener and always takes into consideration the perspective of the people we support, even when offering constructive criticism. Employment Coordinator is just a fraction of what Mary does in her daily routine! Although employment is the main focus of her role, Mary goes above and beyond to help and ensure the people we support are receiving the services they need to lead the most independent life possible. Mary’s compassion to her work and dedication to our DPAO family is unparalleled! Our team is grateful for her continuous support and for holding us together through many stressful situations. Congratulations on your 20 years of service to DPAO and for always putting people first, demonstrating professionalism and building and maintaining positive relationships. Our lives and the individuals we support have been enriched by you!!!


Core Competencies: Putting People First, Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships, Demonstrating Professionalism

OCTOBER 2023 DSP ...

Scott Cummings

Scott Cummings Pic

Scott was nominated by the parent of the individual he works with. “Scott advocates extremely well for the wants and needs of my son. He is very "in tune" to his needs as well. He maintains a positive relationship with him by involving him in community participation that he may enjoy as well as things inside his home. He makes sure his home is stocked with meals and snacks that my super picky child enjoys and has things to occupy him that he enjoys such as a PlayStation, swing set and pool. Scott also attends his pop warner football games to cheer him on. He is reliable and flexible when he is needed or even when my son just wants to spend time with him. Scott is knowledgeable of his needs and is one of the very few people other than myself that can calm him down during a meltdown. Both my son and I appreciate Scott and the time he puts in to help with his confidence, academic and athletic abilities and community participation.” Congrats Scott and thank you for all that you do!



Core Competencies: Putting People First, Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships, Being Active and Productive in Society


Logan Smith

Logan Smith Pic

Logan has been very reliable, helping his individual work on different goals such as cleaning, maintaining his household, budgeting, and bringing him to new places. He had mentioned he wanted to go to a certain restaurant because he had never been so Logan took him and they both enjoyed it. Everything he is doing for him deserves to be recognized. He doesn’t judge him and he has said multiple times that his individual is a great guy and he truly wants to help him. Thank you Logan!!!


Core Competencies: Putting People First, Having a Home, Being Active and Productive in Society

AUGUST 2023 DSP ...

Isabelle Rodriquez

Isabelle Rodriquez Pic

Since beginning in the fall of 2022, Izzie has become an integral part of the Day Hab program. She exemplifies excellent advocating skills for our individuals and has demonstrated this on more than one occasion. She is respectful to each participant and goes above and beyond for them when they need something. She is empathetic to the struggles they face and is always willing to help them with informed decision making, allowing them to make their own decisions as independently as possible.   She is dedicated to being a strong team player and will assist her co-workers when needed, making our Day Hab team one of the best we've ever had! We are lucky to have her! Thank you Izzie!!!

Core Competencies: Putting People First, Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships


JULY 2023 DSP ...

Jenna Sixberry

Jenna Sixberry Pic

Jenna was nominated by the parent of the individual she works with! She expressed that she wanted Jenna to be recognized for going above and beyond and how awesome she is! It was noted that Jenna is always willing to help in any way to make her individual succeed in many areas. Jenna brings him to places and introduces him to new friends. Jenna has an amazing heart and this recognition is long overdue! Excellent job Jenna!!!

Core Competencies: Putting People First, Being Active and Productive in Society


MAY 2023 DSP ...

Andy Drury

Andy Drury Pic

Andy is a very hard worker. You can really see how much true care there is between him and the participants. He wasn’t even there to practice for the talent show and he still stepped up and did a great job. Thank you for putting a smile on everyone’s faces!!!

Core Competency: Building and Maintaining Positive Relationships

APRIL 2023 DSP ...

Jasmine Powers

Jasmine Powers Pic

Jasmine is an amazing person with a huge heart and she is very compassionate. She goes above and beyond for all of her individuals she works with, takes the time to get to know them, and they all think she is the bee’s knees! This helps with not only learning about everyone but also makes each person feel like they matter! Jasmine has a unique ability to make everyone feel welcomed and wanted, as well as puts a smile on everyone’s face. Way to go Jasmine!!!

Core Competency: Putting People First

MARCH 2023 DSP ...

Kristen Korman

Kristen Korman Pic

Kristen was nominated by the Mother of the individual in which she provides services to. “On behalf of our son, his dad and I would like to nominate his Respite support worker for DSP of the Month with DPAO. As you can imagine, finding the right person to work with your differently-abled child can be a bit of a challenge and at times, super stressful. When Kristen began working with him over a year ago, it became obvious very early in that she was a perfect fit for our son. He would smile when Kristen would enter the room, give her huge bear hugs, and request that she be near him. As time has passed, we have taken note of how reliable, flexible, caring, understanding, and motivating she is. Kristen prepares ideas and activities to do with him that are meaningful and that he may find fun and exciting and takes it upon herself to work on ADL’s with him in the comfort of his own home. We are grateful for the support and guidance Kristen provides for our son and our family as a whole." Congratulations Kristen on this well deserved acknowledgment!!!

Core Competency: Putting People First


Keagan Nowlin

Keagan Nowlin Pic

We received a wonderful summary from a parent to recognize Keagan. “She has worked with my son for a year now and she has consistently gone above and beyond to meet his needs. She actively works on his goals daily, takes him to swim classes multiple times each week, takes him into the community regularly, etc. The bond they've built is heartwarming and it's great, as a parent of a somewhat non-verbal child, to know he is loved and cared for when they're together.” Thank you Keagan for all you do!!!

Core Competencies: Putting People First, Being Active and Productive in Society

DECEMBER 2022 DSP ...  

Ashley Garcia

Ashley Garcia Pic

Every day Ashley takes the time to check in to ensure her individual is set, even if she is not working with her that day! She is constantly researching different events in the community to attend or to volunteer at. She is her individual’s biggest cheerleader by celebrating every win, whether if it’s paying for her own coffee at Dunkin and counting the correct change, or frying an egg by herself for the first time. Recently it was supposed to be Ashley’s day off but her individual called and told her about a volunteering opportunity she heard about on the radio and said she would like to do it. Ashley was so proud of her for wanting to take part so she changed her schedule and they went to together and volunteered. She is always going above and beyond for her individual and she truly cares about what is best! Congrats Ashley!!!

Core Competencies: Putting People First, Being Active and Productive in Society

Disabled Persons Action Organization


Corporate Offices:  617 Davidson Street • PO Box 222 Watertown, New York 13601 • (315) 782-3577 • (800) 533-2859 ● (315) 782-6673 (Fax)

William J. McClusky Day Habilitation Center:  633 Davidson Street ● Watertown, New York 13601 ● (315) 782-5285
Free Standing Respite Home:  652 Thompson Street ● Watertown, New York 13601 ● (315) 782-2485


Lewis County Free Standing Respite Home:  5205 Ebbly Road ● Lowville, New York 13367 ● (315) 376-8327