Spotlight Award Winners

Carrie Surface

Carrie, a program director with DRCC, was nominated by Jeanette Curry. Carries nomination was illustrated by an anonymous letter provided by a community member who witnessed her. 

I am writing this little letter to bring it to your attention. In a day and age where people can be cruel and mean, and forget what empathy and being a good human to each other are. I had the opportunity not once but 3 times in the same week to watch a DRCC employee give the utmost discreet help and encouragement in line at Walmart in Virginia, at the movie theatre and waling at the Iron Trail Convention Center walking with her 3 clients by herself. But I'd like to share my Walmart story. It started with her saying to the client that I only had 1 thing ( a heavy bag of dogfood) and we had 10 and that maybe we should let me go first. Her client said yes it too heavy to carry. I declined with a smile, saying I had nothing but time. She was so caring and full of encouragement to her client. She helped in every way possible. She asked her client if they wanted help. But her client declined help. She gave proud compliments to them. I could see how proud and happy they felt after she compliment them. They had a small talk about the rest of their day and what else the client wanted to get done. It was time to pay and her client had a little trouble paying because the card machine wasn't cooperating that day. The client started getting frustrated and loud. She offered her assistance just at the right time and was professional and empathetic to her client, stating that the same thing happened to her yesterday and when it comes to electronics they glitch out just like the client's TV does sometimes. That made her client realize it wasn't heir fault and that things just happen sometimes. She walked the client through the steps once more not just doing it for them. She asked, should we try it together once more? The client agreed with a smile, they crossed their fingers together and it worked. As they walked out she gave her client a pat on the back saying something I didn't catch, but knew it was good because of the smile that came from her client. And they drove away together. This staff impressed me so much at at on the 3rd time seeing her at the bowling alley, I knew someone would know the company and her name. I knew I wanted to write something to let her and the company know. I asked someone her name and it is Carrie Surface and she has worked at DRCC for many, many, many years. So please bring this to her attention and take pride in what a great employee you have. You could see she took pride in her job and enjoyed it. I learned a lot about patience and just being a kind person in line that day.


Vernon Appleton

Vernon, a case coordinator with Ardmore, Inc., was nominated by Brook Stallings. Vernon is a genuinely happy and positive man who always shows up to work with a can do attitude. When crisis situations arise Vernon is that calm positive person who assists the people he supports in looking at things in a positive manner and helping them come up with a solution to the problem in a way that makes the person supported feel respected, valued and heard. Vernon will advocate for the wants and needs of the individuals he supports and is their biggest cheerleader when they want to try something new. Vern is always to take a call or text to help someone talk through a bad day or to just listen to something that has made a person happy or excited in their day. Vern will go the extra mile for the people he supports in obtaining self sufficiency. He has taught individuals how to build their credit score in order to purchase a new home and car. He has also supported and taught individuals how to work with Ohio jobs and family services and social security so that they are able to manage benefit maintenance own their own and we no longer need our services due to being self sufficient.

 Eva Kelly

Eva, a supported living coordinator with Orchard Village, was nominated by  Kasey Ornelas. Eva has worked in Home Based Services for the past 30 years supporting Orchard Village families. Her work is meticulous and she is a wealth of knowledge on the ins and outs of waiver services. For her families: Eva is a staunch advocate who will fight for coverage of services tirelessly. She works over her contracted billable time for all of her cases to make sure each individual gets what they deserve and she does it without any complaints. Her families love her. For her team: Eva is a mentor to all of her team mates. She assists with training new QIDPs on the details of ACCES$, attends CoP meetings to learn new information from her peers to bring back to the team, and does a great deal of critical thinking when it comes to the service process. She continues to advance the home based model of service by acting as a life-long learner. Eva has grown up in this service model but never stops finding ways to ensure her caseload has the most current information and applies it to her management. In the past year, a family struggled to fund a critical need for a home alarm to assist a family monitor a safety risk for their child. They did not have the money to cover the expense and through much on the ground learning and struggle, Eva was able to get it funded through the state. As most things go, more challenges emerged with the vendors and getting them set up for payment with IMPACT. Eva communicated with the family, multiple vendors, IMPACT, and even went so far as to find and work connections at the state to get this family the security system they needed. After tirelessly working this system and finessing communications with vendors who were unsure about the state system, she negotiated an agreement and is getting the family the system they need. After so many road blocks, unreturned emails/phone calls, most people would have given up but Eva pushed through and got her family what they needed to be safe in their home. She is an amazing advocate who knows no limit to her care for individuals with ID/DD. 


Laura Del Real

Laura, a case manger with Community Alternatives Unlimited, was nominated by Paula Bruce. Laura is a selfless giver. She is always seeking resources and ways to support the families on her caseload. She has spent her own time and money to help the families on her caseload when they are in need. She won't turn her back on those who need help and is always willing to problem solve to help find the best solution. Laura takes her work seriously. She is a profoundly dedicated worker who is always willing to share her resources with families and peers on our team. She is dedicated to helping her families, her coworkers, and is also an advocate and guardian for her sister who also has a disability. Laura lives what she gives. She is a model of the Golden Rule. She treats everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of where they live and what their story is. 


 Do you know a DDP that consistently goes above and beyond – someone who deserves a little extra recognition for a job well done? If so, please nominate them for NAQs Spotlight Award - an honor given each month to an exceptional disability professional.  

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View Past Spotlight Award Winners



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Congratulations to Kristina Chermak - winner of our most recent Knowledge Quiz.  She scored a $10 Amazon gift card!  Keep an eye out for future friendly competitions...