Another amazing round of submissions, and it seemed to be even harder to pick from all the incredible nominations. Please see our Second Quarter Round winners of the Celebration of Heroes recognition program for 2021. There aren’t words that can explain what these individuals do for others, but members of the community have recognized them and submitted their nominations. 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.
Everyday hero…Allen Dickens of the 440 unit. During the shift to remote work, he has mostly been in the office. The 450 unit enjoyed the start of two great new Service Coordinator’s during the pandemic. Though Al works in the Children’s Unit, he used to work at Work Training Center, and also in an In-Home unit for many years. I often find him subtly training one of the new employees regarding our vendors, sound case management approaches, little tricks regarding paperwork, and other things. He also sends them, as well as the office, helpful information that can be shared with families. If the Chico office had a mascot, I’d nominate Al he helps cheer us, helps get the job done and is always willing to share his pride about the work we do here.
Anne Silcher, Natalie Valencia and the Team at Mains’l Street Centre for the Arts
The purpose of this Hero Nomination is to recognize the empowering work that Anne, Natalie, and the team at Mains’l 7th Street Centre for the Arts have done to give individuals access to expression in the arts.
COVID-19 has taken its toll on the 7th Street program. However, that does not take away from the impact they have had over the years in the Chico arts community.
Students thrived in theater, choir, poetry, art, dance, songwriting, videography, and wellness classes in the performing arts center that also serves as a classroom. It is a place where they encouraged growth and creativity while they learned how to work with others.
The 7th Street troupe exposed many children to live theater for the first time. Children got to see people with disabilities as role models. They didn’t just see them as ‘the disabled.’
For years, adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities acted, sang, danced, and built friendships in a unique performing arts space in Chico. 7th Street was a vibrant part of the Chico arts community — the essence of inclusion.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
Chico High Wrestling Team
The Chico High Wrestling Team and specifically the two head coaches, encourage youth with Autism to try out for their wrestling team and feel they are an integral part of the team’s success. Currently the Chico High Wrestling team has three youth and one Assistant Coach with Autism. All of their individual characteristics/personality traits which are often seen as negative (obsessive behavior, fixation with a specific item or topic, need for routine) are celebrated and the athletes are viewed as role models to their team mates despite their Autism diagnosis as they exhibit a true sense of commitment and dedication to the sport/team (maintain have perfect attendance, never quit trying and are very focused on wrestling.) The teams/coaches inclusion and recognition of all of its players worth and value is commendable and should be celebrated and recognized.
Francean Kennedy and Mark Bazza, We Care A Lot Foundation
The purpose of this Hero Nomination is to recognize the empowering work that Francean and Mark have done in helping individuals overcome challenges to improve the quality of their social lives and prevent abuse.
Francean and Mark are the inspiring teachers of the Respect Yourself Educational Series (RYES) at the We Care A Lot Foundation. They teach adults with developmental disabilities about sexual abuse prevention through sexuality and body education. They present fact-based instruction designed to decrease the chance of abuse and unsafe sexual practices. They are passionate about their work and it makes a difference in the ability of participants to remember the facts when needed. We will never know how much joy, Francean and Mark have enabled, nor how much pain and suffering they have prevented.
“I touch the future. I teach.” – Christa McAuliffe
Karen Loeper, RN
Karen Loeper RN has joined FNRC for the past half year as a nurse in the Clinical division. Karen has worked with clients, families, service coordinators, local agencies, public health, physicians, nurses, medical facilities and local hospitals to advocate for the health and well being of clients especially during the pandemic; however, it should be recognized she has been advocating for individuals with disabilities for the majority of her adult life. She has a unique way of taking an issue, researching it, problem solving, and making sure clients are receiving the best possible care.
Martha has gone above and beyond in serving her clients and the Latinx community. She is the first one to volunteer to work weekends at any and all Cultural Outreach events. She has to be told to record her hours for these events. She would prefer not to be recognized or reimbursed for her time and energy. She has assisted me in translating Captain trainings into Spanish and, prior to Covid, accompanied me during the evening to translate trainings for Spanish speaking parents on Autism and Evidence based practices.
Melissa Whelchel has had a number of difficult cases over the years. When we need someone with a light hand when it comes to the clients, but a firm grasp of rights when it comes to agencies and other outside groups-she’s perfect. She always makes her clients feel safe, and that they can be who they are, while helping to ensure they’re rights and needs are being met, even when other agencies balk or resist. She knows how to get things done in a persistent, knowledgeable manner, and never wants to have the spotlight. She’s in it for her client’s to the last.
Morgan Curtiz is the essential definition of this, whether doing Self-Determination tasks, or learning to be a certified Person-Centered Thinking skills trainer, she improves any team she’s in with her smarts, humor and practicality. Recently she was a big part of the In-Person protocol group, and contributed helpful suggestions and a “let’s get this done right” attitude. She shows up ready to help, and able to contribute.
I would like to nominate Morgan Curtiz for the “Celebration of Heroes”. Morgan has been exceptional at helping FNRC employees and clients move through the self-determination process. She is truly excited about the opportunities self-determination creates for our clients, her enthusiasm is contagious. Morgan leads with dedication, knowledge, and most of all, her humor! She makes a difference in the lives of our clients and families.
Tom and Maria Gallagher
Tom and Maria Gallagher have dedicated their lives to serving others. They modestly go above and beyond in everything they do. For instance, during the CARR Fire, they were evacuated from their facility and personal home. They (Gallagher’s and gang) evacuate to the first evacuation center, Shasta High School, only to be evacuated again to Shasta College.
At Shasta College, Gallagher’s made every day an adventure. They involved the clients in the daily activities of the evacuation center. The Gallagher’s and gang participated in daily events such as “B on the Ball”, “Super Hero Event – Intensive Care”, Daily Briefing/Updates, and Pet Therapy. The Gallagher’s and gang assisted others, passed out food, took the time to listen to those who were struggling, who lost everything, served and shared smiles to those who felt hopeless. They assisted the evacuation volunteers with making pizza boxes and earned “I Love Pizza” shirts. Not once did they complain. They inspired me to see this catastrophic event in a different light.
The Gallagher’s model positivity and faith in the community and God. Unbeknownst to them, they make the world a better place by showing compassion and kindness and by being generous and grateful. Every day, they freely give of themselves with no expectation from others. Tom and Maria Gallagher are true heroes who go over and above. They are above ordinary in my point of view.
Tres Hombres has been employing people with developmental disabilities for over 20 years. They hired a man almost 23 years ago as their maintenance man. John will have worked there 23 years on April 1, 2021. Through this past year’s pandemic, they continue to support John through the ups and downs of the business needing to close from time to time, due to the pandemic and public health restrictions. They have provided him every opportunity to maintain his hours and included him in every step of the way through this last year’s challenges. They have created new tasks and responsibilities to keep him on the books and gainfully employed.