The Point of Interaction Podcast By NADSP: John Raffaele Interviews David Ervin and Awa Johnson

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Campaigns, News

In 2021, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals announced that it would be conducting a comprehensive campaign across the country to explore COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among direct support professionals. NADSP was invited to participate in this initiative as part of a cooperative agreement with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), with funding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During this year-long campaign, NADSP will be launching a variety of outreach activities including fact sheets, blogs, podcasts, and public service announcements (PSAs) sharing information on COVID-19 and perspectives relative to the DSP workforce.


This past December,  NADSP’s Director of Educational Services, John Raffaele, worked with Office and Communications Manager, Nicole Dama to start recording genuine conversations between direct support professionals and individuals directly impacted by the pandemic. We are pleased to share the first of many podcasts featuring DSPs, family members, and people receiving supports who shared varying perspectives on COVID-19 vaccination.

As our inaugural podcast, the NADSP interviewed Awa Johnson, DSP and David Ervin, CEO, of the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes in Maryland. This interview covered the progression of activities and the impact of the pandemic on the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes from March 2020 to the announcement of the vaccines mandates and reaction following these mandates.

The objectives covered in this first podcast include an overview of one organization’s best applied practices to ensure safety and health of people supported and direct support professionals, a discussion of the process to mandate vaccination and ultimately how DSPs responded to the agency mandate requirement. Guests speakers Awa provided the direct support professional prospective while David shared the DSP reaction to the process throughout the organization.

The following highlights are covered during this interview:

  • How the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes mobilized to address the pandemic.
  • How as a direct support professional it felt when all the COVID related precautions and changes started to happen in 2020.
  • The impact of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on the organization from the DSP and from the CEO perspective.
  • The DSP experience during the height of the pandemic as related to the people supported and their lives.
  • How the people receiving services at Jewish Foundation for Group Homes were supported as related to making informed decisions about their own COVID vaccination.
  • Description of the process to make COVID vaccines mandatory at the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes and how this process may help other organizations and DSPs.
  • How the role of a DSP has changed since the pandemic arrived.

This interview is available to listen to via our podcast, The Point of Interaction, on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Additionally, you can read the full transcript here. The interview features two brief technical interruptions we unfortunately could not edit out without causing a disruption to the audio. In the future we plan to share more of our content via podcasts and hope you will subscribe to our channel.

Our Episode Guests

David Ervin, CEO, Jewish Foundation for Group Homes

Awa Johnson, Community Support Lead, Jewish Foundation for Group Homes

The Point of Interaction Podcast

Click the “Listen Now” button to listen.

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