We are beyond excited to announce our First Quarter Round winners of the Celebration of Heroes recognition program for 2021. We had so many great nominations that it was a difficult choice, but feel these individuals have really gone above and beyond for others in their community. With so many great submissions we wanted to let you know that if your nominated hero didn’t get selected, please nominate them again. From the Everyday Hero to the Barrier Buster Hero we want to acknowledge the wonderful things they have done. Please remember to nominate your Hero today for the next quarter round.
Turtle Bay museum has a sensory hour from 9 to 10am exclusive event for children with autism spectrum disorder. Goal is to make sensory hour a comfortable environment for children with variety of sensory differences. Also admission is free. Turtle Bay and Rowell Family Empowerment has come together to make this happen. Also people with intellectual disability volunteer at Turtle Bay and some have gain permanent jobs. I feel that Turtle Bay embrace inclusion.
Tasha has gone above and beyond to assist me in completely changing a one-time event to virtual events to ensure our clients learn the importance of Emergency Preparedness. Tasha continues to be involved in Emergency Preparedness and continues to ensure our clients are informed on disaster preparedness and now COVID facts, in addition to running R.E.A.C.H. ILS services and looking for ways to include our clients in their local communities. She is not afraid to point out where improvement is needed with different projects and is willing to be the boots in the ground to ensure everyone is included and the projects get done.
Cody just lights up everyone he is around. I have the unique perspective of being both his best friend, neighbor, and co-worker at the ARC thrift store. In all my interactions Cody just radiates everything and everyone with his optimistic and inclusive character. From reaching out to fellow neighbors, to having thoughtful and caring interactions with store customers. In fact when he isn’t there customers ask for him by name. He has even radiated the local theater scene including performing in a local theater production “Singing in the Rain”. It was there he inspired not only countless audiences but every single cast member. Cody loves to volunteer for local events and last year helped me with cleaning up our local park. He truly is an every day hero waking up each day ready for the next group to inspire for the day.
Since Jess lost her home and art studio Jess has been giving back helping our entire community to transform and be reborn. Very much like the Phoenix Jess created from keys of lost homes and business.
Currently Jess has been chosen to be on the gold nugget board helping revive this important centre of our community. She also received a grant for her travelling art program empowering children through the healing power of art and inclusion.
Jess not only has helped out Paradise but also last fall when Berry Creek was brought to ashes, Jess was there providing much needed support and aide.
Karen is the epitome of a cultural hero, she works hard everyday to ensure families receive culturally appropriate services that not only address an individual’s community, but their traditions and values as well. She utilizes her personal experiences as a first generation Mien-American to show how to honor your culture while accepting and honoring others. Karen takes into account the cultural aspects of an individual’s needs, taking time to explain why a program or service is needed to families who are often scared, have little understanding of the who’s and why’s, taking them step by step to ensure any adversity the family may face is addressed and acknowledged. She has helped my parent’s who are RC clients through things I could not explain to them. These are only a few of the things that make Karen a Cultural hero.
Christina Jasper is a Super Hero for Glenn County! Christina recently retired from her position at The Rusty Wagon, a retail training store for Adults with ID/DD. Christina was an instructor and program manager for Rusty Wagon since it opened in 2011. Prior to this, Christina was an Instructional Aide for Special Education at Willows High School. Christina has a big heart and a great passion for helping not only the adults in our program, but she does whatever she can for anyone in need. Some of the ways Christina has shared her love of helping and giving back, is by way of her volunteering to help with weaving, sewing and working on the loom with our adult ladies in the program. Christina took the loom home, assembled it and set-it all up for us just because she cares. She bakes special Birthday Cakes for every one of our adults in our program, even after she has worked a long day or provides care for her elderly parents. Christina stops by to check-in with us whenever she can, and she has offered to support us with just a call or text moment’s notice. Christina has come in to support our store as a volunteer on Saturdays occasionally, and we are so very grateful for all she has done for us. Until her retirement in early December, we had no idea of all the “Behind the Scenes” things she did to keep our store in order, services provided to our associates and all the extra things she did to keep the store going in a positive, strong course. She is truly our Super Hero, and we miss her presence in the store everyday.
Level Up NorCal is an inspiration to me and everyone around. They work with the most underserved population within the regional center who have both cultural and linguistic barrier. The staff here are amazing and really care of the clients, always going above and beyond to help them access or obtain services they may not have due to these barriers. They advocate and educate their families on programs and services assisting them a long with way to address barriers to services while creating a meaningful relationship. Always going above and beyond, they provided Thanksgiving meals and distributed Christmas gifts to families in need out of the kindness of their heart. The staff are all bilingual and bicultural working with families in their native and most comfortable language, providing an inclusive and culturally appropriate environment for those they serve.
Not surprisingly, an organization reflects the values and examples set by its leadership. In their role as the Executive Director of the Far Northern Regional Center, Laura Larson and now Melissa Gruhler have set a high bar.
With vendors, they ensure the Everyday quality of life factors with housing, employment, etc. At the same time, they watch out for predictable financial flows and continuity of services so that businesses can plan and deliver.
With regulators, they ensure compliance while not sacrificing creativity; i.e. honoring diverse communities, traditions, and values.
With consumers, they drive the organization to provide services and support that allow persons with developmental disabilities to live productive lives as welcomed members of their community; i.e. person-centered planning, Friendship Circles, etc.
With employees, they provide a motivating place to work where individuals can find autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
With peers at other RCs, thanks to Laura and now Melissa, FNRC stands out as an innovator that receives exceptional ratings and scores.
The last great act of an executive is effective successor transition. Laura absolutely delivered on this. To say she finished well in passing the baton is an understatement. In turn, Melissa has literally been tested by fire, as well as by the current pandemic. With both Laura and Melissa, with deepest respect and gratitude, we can enthusiastically say: tested and proven!
Sara Carrol and the team at Community Living Options
The work that Sara Carroll has done leading Community Living Options has empowered consumers to live full lives in caring, loving homes — pre-COVID, I would ask you to picture: cooking classes, Disney movie night, karaoke, etc. Not surprisingly, research shows that welcoming home life is directly correlated with quality of life — this correlation is even stronger in the ID/DD population.
However, while creative, Sara has zero tolerance for compromises in safety. At the same time, Sara fights for consumers to have a voice and make choices. She has generously funded, developed, and sponsored health and nutrition programs that are above and beyond anything required. Sara is a real-life Inclusion Super Hero and it shows in the lives she and her team have touched.
Sara’s influence extends to the families of consumers as well. Without the genuinely caring staff, rigorous safety standards, and appropriate flexibility/choice for their adult children, many parents would never let go. This traps the adult child as well as the parents in a downward spiral as the parent’s age. Sara and her team have reversed this and developed home environments that are growth-oriented for the residents and give unparalleled peace of mind to the parents.
To paraphrase Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Sara, and the team at CLO, have changed the world for so many adult consumers and their parents.
Teresa Wolk and the team at Little Red Hen
Work can be a major part of an individual’s identity. Thanks to Teresa Wolk Hayes and the staff at Little Red Hen, for consumer employees, work can be a super positive inclusion aspect in their lives. At Little Red Hen, consumer employees are integrated into the full fabric of the community — plant nursery, floral shop, kitchen goods, home store, gift shop, etc.
For 20 years, Teresa has always treated consumer employees with dignity and respect. She advocates for a full wage, as well as other benefits. The result is a work environment that promotes pride and self-worth. At the core, Little Red Hen, Teresa, and her dedicated staff have provided independence and Super Hero Inclusion for its consumer employees.
Teresa has dedicated her life to helping others, and her passion has spawned so much more than just businesses. It sprouted awareness, support, self-esteem, education, and most importantly it has forever changed the lives of many people in our community. When I think about the team at Little Red Hen, it reminds me of a quote from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Whereas, for Teresa, Helen Keller said “optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Truly, truly, that describes Little Red Hen and Teresa.