Today, CALA awarded the 2014 Excellence in Service Awards for Northern California. Four exceptional Assisted Living employees were cheered and lauded at the 2014 Spring Conference & Trade Show by a room full of their friends, family members, and co-workers.
Tonka Darazi has been a personal assistant liaison at Belmont Village of San Jose for 10 years. According to Executive Director Scott Ambrose, “Tonka is an amazing caregiver, born to care for others. Her dedication to residents is remarkable, and her work ethic is unparalleled. Tonka’s positive, loving attitude is something we see and hear about daily.”
Darazi takes ownership of residents’ care and has a special knack for connecting with residents that have a hard time bonding with others. As a lead trainer of caregiver trainees, she models how to treat residents with focused attention and respect. Darazi has been named Employee of the Year multiple times, and has received numerous other awards totaling 27. CALA is proud to offer her award number 28.
Outstanding Team Member: Amyda Astrero
Amyda Astrero is Assistant Director of Health Services at Silverado Belmont Hills. She has been working at the community in various positions for 11 years. Administrator Veronica Arellano describes Astrero as “a natural and quiet leader” and says, “It doesn’t matter how chaotic things are, you can always count on Amyda to remain calm, positive, smile and just do what needs to be done—without having to be asked.”
Astrero inspires her fellow associates each day with her commitment to providing residents the best care possible. She willingly takes calls at night and on her days off and makes herself available to assist nurses, caregivers or family members. Astrero is also a mentor to nurses, coaching them in both nursing and supervisory skills. She knows the preferences of each of the 100-plus residents, and she does her best to engage personally with them.
Outstanding Department Director: Marsha Peoples
Serving those with dementia seems to be Marsha Peoples’ true calling. Executive Director Cheryl Martin shares that as the Community Enrichment Director, Peoples embodies the mission at Lakeside Park, which states, “We believe every human being deserves to be seen, honored and celebrated through every stage of life.”
Peoples provides Lakeside’s 70 residents with dementia with many enriching experiences which give them a sense of purpose. These activities include making blankets and quilts to donate to local hospitals, creating holiday stocking for each resident that honors their individual religious preferences, and inviting residents to be her “assistant” and help her with tasks that also calm agitation. Peoples also mentors staff, along with social work and therapy interns, teaching them how to connect with residents.
Debbie Ponte has been with Foothill Village ever since it broke ground in 2000. Thanks to her hard work, the community has become an event space and informational hub for locals as well as one of the top ten employers in Angels Camp. Employees and residents appreciate Ponte’s can-do attitude and open door policy. Under her lead, Foothill Village gives 100 high school student their first job each year through the “First Start” program. And as residents’ needs have changed, she has worked to ensure that the community is well equipped to serve them, such as when she converted half of the building to memory care in 2012.
A long-time residents of Angels Camp, Ponte is passionate about taking an active role in her community. She has served on the City Board of Supervisors and as Mayor of Angels Camp, and she was recently elected to the Board of Supervisors for District 4 of Calaveras County.
Congratulations to all four Excellence in Service winners! Your dedication, empathy, creativity, and hard work are truly outstanding. CALA members in Southern California, do you have an exceptional employee at your community? Check the CALA website for the Fall 2014 Excellence in Service Awards call for nominations!