Amanda, pilot project participant



Our very own Amanda Benoit and Paige Emerson are self-advocates and proud representatives of the Supported Decision-making Pilot Project, a joint initiative of Nonotuck and the Center for Public Representation. Amanda is a participant and Paige is a Board member and community ambassador.

In 2015, both women co-presented their experiences with the SDM project at the annual conference for the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (

This year, we sent 2 videos to the conference so attendees could learn more about their stories. The videos were well received, and Amanda and Paige are now ready to share with our supporters and Facebook community.



Amanda is a world class traveler from the Berkshires. She enjoys traveling across the country with friends and family. She has been to Martha’s Vineyard, California, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, NYC, Virginia and Pennsylvania. She recently went to Louisville, Kentucky, where she was on the panel of presenters for the Supportive Decision Making/Alternate to Guardianship workshop at the 2015 national conference of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (see photo of Amanda and her fellow presenters on our Pilot Project News & Events page).

Amanda attends many community events including the Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome Awareness, Third Thursday, and numerous cultural events.   She plays Special Olympics basketball and volunteers at fundraisers for Special Olympics throughout the year. A diehard New England Patriots and WWE fan, she also loves listening to country music, watching movies and attending local basketball games.

Amanda is proud to be a part of the SDM Pilot Project because she knows how important it is in her life. Amanda has Down syndrome and at times needs support and clarity in understanding issues before making decisions.   For her SDM Team, Amanda has chosen her caregiver, Sandy Robinson, her mother, Dollie Biagini, her respite worker, Dianne Moody, and her long-time friend, Maggy Walto.

Six years ago Amanda used her own model of supportive decision-making when she was in an emergency situation and needed a place to live. She told the caseworker at the Department of Disability Services to connect her with her friend Maggy.   That connection led her to Nonotuck, and soon thereafter she moved into Sandy’s home. Amanda and Sandy’s relationship, which started on Thanksgiving Eve in 2009, continues to demonstrate the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

Amanda loves living with Sandy and her family, which includes Eddie, Mayla, Craig and Adea. They go on vacations together and visit Sandy and Eddie’s extended family as well. Amanda has learned many valuable life skills, such as being a team player in a large household. Amanda also feels she has grown by attending church with Sandy and the family.   In 2012, Amanda and Sandy received the Shared Living Award from Nonotuck at the Annual AFC/Shared Living Conference.

In addition, Amanda loves to visit her mother and her sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth. She enjoys spending time with them during the holidays. She enjoys going through all her childhood pictures and making photo albums.   She also likes to connect with other family members through Facebook

Sandy believes that SDM is a great option for Amanda who “directs the course of her life and knows when she needs clarity in understanding decisions. The SDM Pilot program has given Amanda the continued opportunity to stay as independent as possible; this is what Amanda and her team both want.”