Awards

2017 Excellence in Service Award Recipients for Southern California

Execllence-Service-logoThis week, CALA awarded the 2017 Excellence in Service Awards for Southern California. Four exceptional Assisted Living employees were cheered at the 2017 Fall Conference & Trade Show by a room full of their friends, family members, and co-workers.

Outstanding Caregiver: Maria Garcia

Maria began at Atria Del Sol 19 years ago as a volunteer and has served as medication assistant and resident services coordinator. She brings a calm and steady presence in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. For instance, when a resident was placed on hospice, Maria went out of her way to bring him his favorite foods. And when a driver backed his car into the building, she calmly assessed the situation, ensured that nobody was injured or in distress, and brought her supervisor up to speed. Her attention to detail and commitment led to her lead role in implementing quality control measures, helping the resident care department increase its overall rating. According to Maria, being of service to those in need brings her the greatest joy, and it’s the residents that are her greatest source of inspiration and wisdom.


Outstanding Team Member: Baltazar Orain

Known as “Barry” around the community, he has worked at Atria Del Sol for 10 years. In that time, he has become “the lifeblood of the community,” “an incredible human being,” and a “natural morale booster,” according to residents and staff. He takes the time to learn residents’ favorite songs so that he can serenade them when he serves their meals. He also entertains residents with his very own version of karaoke—known as “Barry-oke”—at the monthly birthday party. On any given day, when asked, “How are you?”, his response is always “Barry good!” and he is there to offer support and assistance whenever needed to help ensure the finest resident experience. According to Barry, his desire to serve others and create joyful experiences for those around him, combined with his deep spirituality, are his motivating forces.

Outstanding Department Director: Laura Cardoza

Laura has worked at Merrill Gardens at Santa Maria since 2008 and currently serves as the Active Living Program Director. She cultivates relationships with outside sources such as the local college to offer a variety of activity programs. She has also brought in ministers and other spiritual leaders to fulfill residents’ spiritual needs and preferences. And she taps into residents’ expertise to create meaningful, resident-led programs with a sense of purpose. In addition, Laura coordinates programs in the community-at-large, such as the Alzheimer’s Walk team and the Merrill Gardens float for the local parade. A few years ago, she led the charge that resulted in one of her residents being named Most Inspiring Senior in the United States by SeniorHomes.com. Laura says, “It seems like this opportunity to work here at Merrill Gardens is where my life prepared me to be.”

Outstanding Executive Director: Steve Spira

Steve’s management skills, along with his focus on improving the customer experience through exceptional service, has gained him the respect of the Cypress Place team and the appreciation of residents and family members. According to his business office director, Steve’s leadership and teamwork style of management has unified the team while allowing employees to stay connected with residents. Steve is skilled at hiring right-fit individuals and elevating them to positions where they can maximize their talents. What’s more, residents feel protected, cared for, heard and understood by him. Given his accomplishments, he was promoted to Senior Executive Director, taking on responsibilities beyond his role at the community. Steve says, “When I started working with seniors I realized it was what I was supposed to be doing…I look forward to making a difference for all seniors that live at Cypress Place.”


Congratulations to all three Excellence in Service winners! Your dedication, empathy, creativity, and hard work are truly outstanding. CALA members in Northern California, do you have an exceptional employee at your community? Check the CALA website for the Spring 2017 Excellence in Service Awards call for nominations!

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