ELIZABETH, NJ — Elizabeth resident Wilfred Wainaina, a direct support professional at the Union Autism Day Program, has been chosen as the 2016 New Jersey Center for Family Support Employee of the Year. Nominated by his direct supervisor, Wainaina was chosen from a pool of more than 250 of his peers.
CFSNJ, located in Paramus, is a charitable organization that provides support and assistance to individuals with developmental and related disabilities, and to the family members who care for them.
Wainaina began his career with CFS in 2005, and has worked in both the residential and day programs.
Wainaina, who is known as “Uncle Wilfred,” told LocalSource that he is always ready to assist his clients in every way possible.
“Any assistance they need, I lend a hand,” Wainaina said in a June 26 email. “I teach my individuals to do things by themselves and let them feel that they are part of the community which they attend daily. They are also able to work on their daily goals with a lot of support and comfort.”
Wainaina said he interacts constantly with his clients to ensure they meet their personal goals.
“Some of the goals include dancing, exercising, singing, yoga sessions and spending a lot of time talking to them to find out what is bothering them or what help they may require,” he said. “We work on all goals together with our service recipients so that they feel we are part and parcel of one team.”
Wainaina said he was thrilled to learn he had been chosen for the Employee of the Year Award.
“This I felt as the most important and the happiest day I ever had in the agency,” Wainaina said. “From the bottom of my heart, I felt joy and smiled, letting everybody that participated in the occasion know that my family and friends were very happy.”
Donna Messina, the CFSNJ director of programs, praised Wainaina for his work at the organization.
“Wilfred could easily be described when first meeting him as polite and responsible,” Messina told LocalSource in a June email. “But what makes Wilfred an invaluable asset is his warmth and compassion. Wilfred makes everyone feel welcome. He doesn’t look at a situation and concentrate on the challenges, but rather smiles and does whatever is needed to help. Without saying a word, Wilfred serves as a natural leader to his co-workers. He does not just set the example, he typifies what it means to be a direct support professional for the Center for Family Support.”
Wainaina said since working at CFSNJ, he has learned a lot about human behavior.
“I have learned how to handle everyone individually without colliding with each other’s behavior, learning to understand that we are all different from one another,” he said.
“This work changed my life on how I’m supposed to interact with everyone, not just the individuals I care for, but everyone in general. To have respect, talk politely, to apologize and to thank and wish other people well, and mostly to be happy.”
For more information about The Center for Family Support services, visit www.cfsny.org.