Direct care workers in Orange County, including nurse aides and companion givers, were honored in a virtual ceremony on Oct. 22.
The Orange County Department on Aging and the Senior Health Advocacy and Resource Partners (SHARP) honored 31 nominated individuals for their services in long-term care in the sixth annual SHARP Direct Care Worker Awards.
Nominees received a recognition bag with a special pin, certificates of honor and an assortment of items donated by local business partners and member organizations of SHARP.
Awards were given in six categories:
- Client Impact (awarded to Ashley Horton of Homewatch Caregivers of the Triangle)
- Going the Extra Mile (awarded to Deborah Carmichael of Elmcroft of Hillsborough )
- Leadership (awarded to Marla Johnson of the Charles House Association)
- Longevity (awarded to Vivian Dixon of Brookdale Meadowmont)
- Rising Star (awarded to Kim Mayorquin of Carolwoods Retirement Community)
- Direct Care Worker of the Year (awarded to Joey Duffy of ACORN)
“We cannot truly say that 'thank you' loud enough," Tim Wach, a chairperson of SHARP, said during the ceremony. "We know that the work that you do is very important to all of us, this year more than ever."
Eligible care workers were nominated through a form on the Orange County website by fellow care workers and by their places of employment. Award winners were selected by representatives of Project EngAGE, a senior leadership program sponsored by the Orange County Department on Aging.
Penny Rich, chairperson of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, announced the 31 nominees and six individuals who received Direct Care Worker Awards. She said the ceremony was special this year because a lot of assisted living communities have been on lockdown, and care workers have been some of the only people that clients get to see.
Deborah Carmichael, who was awarded the “Going the Extra Mile” award, has been working at Elmcroft of Hillsborough for three years. She said she started out as a certified nursing assistant in 1996 and worked her way through the health care system.
“I have a great love of people, and to do this work, you have to love people, otherwise you’re in the wrong profession,” she said.
When she received the award, Carmichael said she was honored. She said she really appreciated people recognizing what she was doing and being thankful for her work.
Carmichael said she is grateful that she was able to support families and their loved ones by putting them at ease in their assisted living communities. Bringing a loved one to such communities is hard, she said, and she was glad to help them through the transition.
“I feel like my work has paid off,” she said.
Rich said award recipients have stepped up by doing things such as teaching clients how to use FaceTime, picking up other shifts for co-workers and stepping out of their boundaries.
“This is all about our community members that give back and are constantly working with the Department on Aging,” she said.
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