Mike Garcia, Catholic Community Services / Community Living Program, Tucson, AZ
Mike Garcia is a humble guy. He shouldn’t be. He possesses an exemplary ability to recognize another person’s immediate needs and then figures out a way to organize and systematize accommodations and help them realize success. These qualities have earned him opportunities to move from being a direct support professional (DSP) into administrative positions. However, Mike’s heart lies with the people he serves. He politely turns down offers of advancement believing that his strengths and purpose in life are to work with individuals directly and to advocate for their needs at all times. He has been doing just this for an amazing 15 years.
A born innovator, Mike created and teaches a training method called the Community Living Program (CLP) Boot Camp. In the boot camp, he cross trains staff on necessary consumer services and the specific skills required to support each individual. This program gives people better services and graduates from the CLP Boot Camp receive the title of DSP3 and an increase in their hourly wages.
Mike’s dedication and creativity not only brings out the best in his colleagues, but also in the individuals he serves. His work and sincere camaraderie creates rewarding behavioral changes. Mike’s honed instincts enabled him to quickly identify a person’s serious situation that was resolved by surgery. Mike’s commitment to this person did not end at the hospital door. When the doctors wanted the individual to go to a rehabilitation facility, Mike said, “No, he wants and needs to come home and we can do it.” And, they did! Mike arranged everything in advance and utilizing the CLP Boot Camp method, this individual recovered at home and far quicker than expected.
In addition to his dedication and creativity, Mike exhibits friendship with his consumers by volunteering his personal time to help them achieve their dreams. Mike once camped out overnight at Best Buy to purchase a computer at the annual post Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” Among his other self-less actions, Mike has kept night vigil over a frightened person undergoing a sleep apnea test and he spent his own time locating a grant and filling out the paperwork to successfully obtain $2,500 for a person’s dental needs.
Clearly, Mike demonstrates devotion and friendship along with his exceptional work and is a shining example of all that a DSP of the Year encompasses.
Unsung Hero Award
Deborah Anderson Volunteers of America Community Living Services Metairie, LA Deborah Anderson genuinely loves the people she serves. She demonstrates her affection by taking them on family outings and protecting them as if they were her own.
During Hurricane Katrina, Deborah and her family lost everything: their home, car, clothes and personal belongings. Managing to relocate to a new home in Texas, Deborah and her family were living expense free. Yet, unable to leave her consumers behind to fend for themselves, Deborah chose to return to New Orleans. For the next three months, Deborah’s car was her home as she worked determinedly to make sure that her consumers were settled and received the care that they needed.
Deborah’s actions helped the helpless, instilled hope and served as a voice for those otherwise left behind. She is the heart of faith and inspiration—a true unsung hero.
2008 DSP State Honorees