Her work with people on the spectrum at the DMV is recognized.
Published: December 12, 2022 By: Lisa Walenceus
Tracy Clark has been awarded the Jason Anderson Outstanding Employee Award for her service as a natural support in the Dover office of the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) prior to her retirement in 2022. Today, she is also a direct support professional (DSP) for Autism Delaware’s adult services program, which is known as Productive Opportunities for Work and Recreation (or POW&R, for short).
Natural supports are employees in a workplace who assist employees with a disability in the performance of their jobs and also help them integrate socially in the work environment.
The award was presented by Ali Storck, POW&R’s Kent County coordinator: “Tracy deserves this award because she’s always given her heart to the inclusion and success of our participants. She truly cares, and she’s given so much to people with autism.”
Since 2018, Clark has worked with Dylan, a POW&R participant who works as a DMV motor vehicle associate, and when she speaks of his work, she shows how much she cares: “I’ve helped Dylan learn different job duties, like scanning documents and inputting information into the DMV’s system – I think he is so amazing, so smart, and one of the best workers the DMV has.
“He is always eager to take on any new task,” noted Clark. “For Dylan and any other participant I have ever worked with, their happiness and success has been my goal and my reward.
“All Dylan and other participants want is a place to belong and to be treated no differently than anyone else,” Clark continued. “It’s my job to help make sure their workplace experience is safe, respectful, and welcoming.”
“Dylan is a whiz online, and Tracy has done fantastic work to bring out his strengths,” Storck added, “And the DMV has really taken him into their family.”
When it came time for Clark to retire, she found she did not want to leave her work with Dylan behind, so becoming a DSP for Autism Delaware was the next step she wanted.
Storck explained, “People who do this work build relationships with people and families that last a lifetime. We don’t make a difference in their lives – they make a difference in ours. That’s why great people like Tracy come to this work.”
Storck knows this call herself – she took a job as a DSP six years ago after she had the chance to work with Autism Delaware participants at Dover Downs. “I just found working with people on the spectrum so meaningful that I wanted to do it full time. We all try to keep that feeling of purpose front and center no matter what role we fill at Autism Delaware.”
“In her work for the DMV,” noted Autism Delaware’s POW&R director Katina Demetriou, “Tracy demonstrated that she is able to balance being a coworker, mentor, and friend in a way that allows people with autism to learn job responsibilities and grow in their positions. When I heard Tracy was retiring and interested in working for us, I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ to hiring her; she is exactly what we look for in our direct support providers. We are so proud to have her on the POW&R team.”
“We have many natural support providers and business partners ensuring our participants are working and living their best lives,” added Autism Delaware executive director Brian Hall, “Tracy represents the best of all of these dedicated community members and demonstrates that inclusive environments are better for everyone.”
Autism Delaware’s Outstanding Employee Award is named in honor of Jason Anderson, past senior director of ticket sales and operations for Dover International Speedway, who died in a tragic car accident in 2015. Anderson was a champion of Autism Day at the Races and helped make the first autism-friendly NASCAR event at Dover Down International Speedway a regular event. He also established Central Delaware Speech-Language Pathology in Lewes with his wife Kathleen (Kati) Anderson, M.S., CCC-SLP, an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) member and Delaware-certified speech-language pathologist.