Welcome back to another year of our Celebration of Heroes program. We are starting 2022 strong with some amazing people who truly go above and beyond to include others. Here are our first quarter round winners, and what their community members had to say about them.
I am nominating Milo Jennings from the Work Training Center (WTC). Milo is the man behind all of the PPEs given to clients and families the past two years. He drives to Sonoma Developmental Center to pick up truckloads of masks, sanitizer, and other PPEs. Milo also coordinates deliveries to all of Butte and Glenn counties, often driving to remote and distant locations to provide PPEs to clients and families experiencing COVID or trying to stay safe. I made many emergency request for PPE deliveries the past two years and Milo often surprises me by how fast he is able to make a delivery. Milo and his team also put together many of the PPE kits FNRC and the State Council provide to clients and families during the PPE giveaway events. If it is to help clients and families avoid COVID, Milo will always do whatever is needed to make sure families have the necessary PPEs.
Rowell Family Empowerment Center
I am so grateful for Rowell Family Empowerment Center who work together with parents and other volunteers to inspire and to include the autism community. Whether it’s through fun Summer Camps that bring families and communities together or fundraising events like Airports for Autism (an annual 4K run) this group of dedicated and devoted professionals, parents, and staff work together to make sure that children with autism are included and recognized that they truly matter.
I met Victoria Sled in early October of 2021 at the Olive Garden Host stand. I introduced myself she said “I heard a lot of good things about you”. From the first minute we met, we had a connection to each other. I even told her I had Aspergers and I’m also into Child Development such as she. Every day that she is working and I’m working I get compliments from her. Victoria gives me opportunities to grow and helps me feel valued.
During a night shift a couple of months ago, I was hosting at night and she noticed I was rolling napkins and silverware. She asked me if they needed them up there and I said yes I’ve been doing this for the last couple of hours. She then asked, “would you like to help me make bread?” Turned out she had plans to involve me in the kitchen helping with the dishes, making and preparing bread, etc. At one point that night, I told her “thank you very much,” she said, “no you’re awesome, you’re the best keep it up.”
I’m on the autism spectrum and even when I’m confronted with challenges I seek affirmation so I can make it through without a melt down. I have never had a melt down at the Olive Garden in over two years working there. Part of this is due to having such positive supervisors like Victoria (Vicky) who really helps me feel that I’m with family and people who truly care.
From the very start that I worked with Al on the donation truck, I had an immediate connection. He taught me skills like how to carry a couch through a door and how to navigate heavy items up and down the stairs. He even helped encourage me in my skill of being a map-reader as we navigated how to find our next donation.
Fast forward to the present I now work with Al at the ARC Thrift Store. Al now mentors me in how to test electronics, helps me to stay on task, and to be polite in assisting other customers while on the register. Not only is Al a great mentor and teacher, but as someone on the Spectrum he has shown me the amazing possibilities one can reach when they don’t define themselves by their challenges. He uses his unique gifts and knowledge to not only teach others but to be a tremendous asset to us here at the ARC. There is nobody that I can think of that has such extensive knowledge on all things mechanical and electronic. He even has an intrinsic understanding of things that are non-mechanical like working with the public and being a great team player.
I have another co-worker who Al has helped a lot with projects that she can’t fix. There was one time when Al spent more than an hour of his time helping diagnose a flat-screen TV that we had purchased. That day not only was Al providing us a service, but he was also teaching us the ins and outs of the machine. Al has also helped us fix things for school assignments often doing such during his paid breaks. We have learned a great deal from him and yet after 22 plus years, there is so much more to be gained.
Al in my opinion is a true superhero whose superpower goes beyond his intellect and experience but to his noble heart and great desire to pass on his understanding to those around him.
I am also nominating Al, as he is a vital member of our team here at the ARC. Whether it is coaching me on register, teaching me how to fix a record player, or demonstrating the proper lifting technique Al is irreplaceable and he will always be remembered for one of the greatest mentors I have ever had the chance to meet.
Trish is so amazing, I am not sure anyone is aware of all she does. She honestly deals with all the vendor’s and supports her team, she is constantly making sure Fiscal, POS and the Vendor’s have everything they need to do a good job. You can ask her anything and she will have the answer. I do not know that FNRC realizes what a treasure they have in Trish. I have worked at a different Regional Center and her qualities were actually what we had in our director not a Manager. She goes above and beyond to create a great team.
Andreas is one of the original founding members for People First of CA. He has been a tremendous advocate for People First in his hometown of Yreka and throughout the entire state of CA.
Andreas advocacy goes farther than People First events but also reaches many North State schools as a member of SAY. Andreas shares his own story about rising above challenges in his life and encourages kids by becoming an ally. To not stand idly by when someone at school is being singled out but to stand beside them and include them is key.
Andreas also has been our worship leader for the past several years for our People First conferences. I have always appreciated his contribution, which is a combination of a group worship service and a worship concert led by Andreas on his ukulele. Andreas does all of this and more with a strong passion to make a positive difference in the lives of his peers and people he meets proving once and for all that we are all capable of greatness we just need to open up our mouth and speak from the heart.
Cassie is a very hard worker and is always patient with me as a service coordinator. She goes to great lengths to help with details and explanations. She is also kind and patient with my clients care providers. No matter how busy she is, she is friendly and has a great sense of humor. Working in trust was always a complicated job with a heavy workload and has been made even more so during the pandemic. Cassie is so helpful and manages our client’s funds with care and accuracy. She has bailed me out more times than I can remember. I appreciate her greatly and know that I am not alone. Cassis is my superhero 🙂
FNRC nursing Team; Jennifer Badger, RN PHN and Nelly Camarena, RN PHN
Jenn and Nelly are Regional Center nurses who support the clients at Far Northern Regional Center. Jenn and Nelly joined FNRC within the last 5 years but it seems like they have been here far longer. They are knowledgeable, empathetic, clever, and excellent problem solvers. Jenn has extensive experience in in-patient, psychiatric, and home health services. Nelly came to us with extensive experience in children’s health and is able to advocate strongly for our Spanish-speaking clients and their families. They communicate with residential providers, vendors, primary care providers, and hospitals to advocate and ensure clients get the best possible care in our community. They have navigated Covid -19 with clients, regional center staff and vendors and have kept abreast of all the updates and changes we have all endured the past two years. They set up meetings twice a month to share information and answer questions for our vendors. I don’t think I have ever heard either of them say they couldn’t accomplish a task assigned to them and always do it with a smile. Thank you for all you do to advocate for the Regional Center Community.
Cindi is the epitome of an Advocacy Hero. Since 1995, she has been a People First Helper and has dedicated herself to supporting and encouraging adults with developmental disabilities to use their voice to speak up for themselves and their friends. She not only works with People First in our region, but she also works with People First of California and advocates from throughout the USA and the UK. Ask anyone who knows her, they will tell you she is passionate about People First and the positive difference it makes in their lives.
Since 2003, Cindi has also been the Program Coordinator for the very successful Abuse Prevention, CAAT, and Feeling Safe/Being Programs. Cindi provides behind the scenes support that enables self-advocacy leaders to teach their peers and the people who support them about abuse prevention and emergency preparedness.
Because of her unwavering passion for and commitment to People First and the goals of her programs, Cindi is my Advocacy Hero and I hope she will become yours too.
Heather works hard to serve her caseload, individuals and families with lots of needs. Heather is kind, compassionate, and always goes above and beyond to help her families get/access the programs or services they need. Her families love working with her, she always finds a way to make things look easy.
Heather has been a huge help with me finding resources here for my son. She went out of her way to guide me in finding the help we needed for him to have advocates and the resources to succeed.
Heather is kind, and helpful. I appreciate her very much.