Meet Our Staff

Matt, DSP

Learn how Matt, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) in our youth residential programs, inspires and mentors young men under his care.

What initially made you want to get into this field?

Growing up in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, during the 80s, I always felt that a strong community and dedicated people are needed for the youth to assist in a successful upbringing. I’ve seen a lot during my childhood, specifically in the field of single-parent households. I was blessed to have two parents, but my father tragically passed away when I was 12. After he passed, I felt the need to fill the void and be the male figure in the household. I’m grateful to my father because he showed me, by example, what a real man looks like. I share this because many of the youth I work with on a day-to-day basis don’t have a stable father figure to help them grow into the young men they have the potential to be, and I feel like that’s why I was placed in their life: to help guide them be the best that they can be.

What’s an average day like for you at The Jewish Board?

My days are never the same. The youth continue to challenge us and present us with new needs and issues. Each day is a learning environment for both them and me. If I could describe an average day, I come to Kaplan House at 7:00 a.m., say hello to my coworkers, and head to the floors where the youth reside. When the building is at baseline, I crack jokes with the kids, have serious conversations about life and their future, and reiterate that I was like them and that I understand their struggle as young Black men. However, not all days are like that, and during those more difficult days, I’m right there to de-escalate by using the skills I’ve learned and my relationships with the youth to get the building back to baseline.

What’s your favorite part about your work?

Watching youth use what you taught them to achieve something. I love seeing youth return and share their experiences and lessons learned with our residents. Our former residents help us in planting these seeds. Some seeds sprout and grow while at Kaplan House, and for others, it happens after Kaplan. I also enjoy advocating and supporting the youth while setting appropriate boundaries and holding them accountable. Sometimes they’re right, and we can’t dispute that, but there are other times when they’re wrong, don’t want to hear it, and it’s our job to explain why.

Which of The Jewish Board’s core Values resonates with you most?

“Treat every Person with Dignity” means the most to me because it’s about the dedication to helping all. The agency’s continued development and dedication to assisting EVERYONE is an important framework for my daily work. Continuing to identify that everyone, despite their challenges, deserves a full effort to support them is very powerful for me.

You spend so much time caring for others; what’s one way you practice self-care?

Spending days with my family and loved ones, enjoying each other’s company. I relax by taking my youngest son out to practice basketball, taking my daughter shopping, and enjoying dinner with my oldest son.

What’s the last song you listened to?

Wake up, Everybody by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. My favorite song is 2Pac’s Dear Mama.

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