Staff member honored for commitment


Co-workers say Cara Valdivia’s dedication and passion for individuals with disabilities is expressed in her actions.

As a supported living program manager for Developmental Services Inc. in Seymour, she works closely with residents to help them become more accepted and involved in the community.

Her responsibilities include overseeing the area group homes and care staff to make sure all of the residents’ needs are being met.

During DSI’s annual awards banquet Nov. 13, Valdivia received the John McCauley Community Awareness Award for her commitment to people with special challenges.

“I’m very honored, but it kind of seems odd, too, because I often feel like what I do is what anyone else would do,” Valdivia said. “Sometimes I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”

She’s been with the agency for two years but has a much longer history of spending time with people with disabilities.

“When I was a little girl, my mom worked for a provider at a group home, and I would get to go play games with the clients,” she said. “At that time, I didn’t know what I was doing or that it would lead to a career.”

In high school at Henryville, she started mentoring a young boy with autism.

“He had trouble relating to other kids; but for some reason, he felt comfortable around me,” she said.

That’s when Valdivia said she realized she wanted to go into a field where she could continue working with people with special needs.

“I really wanted to change the world then,” she said. “But now I stay because of the people that have changed mine.”

Whether she’s planning a trip to the grocery store for clients, taking them out to eat or going bowling, she makes sure residents have opportunities to live normal, active lives.

“They are my family, and I want them to receive the same care and opportunities that my own children would have,” she said.

In Seymour, she has helped organize a social advocacy group that assists people with disabilities in building better peer relationships, improving their quality of life. She also is a board member of Mental Health America of Jackson County and serves on the board for The Arc of Jackson County.

She said serving on those boards is a way for her to give back to the people who help support the clients she cares so much about.

“Those groups do a lot for us. So when they were looking for people to serve on their boards, I thought it would be the right thing to do,” she said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

2014 Developmental Services Inc. Awards

Volunteer of the Year Award — Anne Hatton of Madison

John McCauley Community Awareness Award — Cara Valdivia of Seymour

Industry of the Year Award — Rightway Fasteners Inc. of Columbus

Employer of the Year Award — Walmart in Columbus (west side)

Professional of the Year Award — Judy Jones of Greensburg

Direct Service Professional Award — Ashley Van Horn of Greensburg

Consumer Achievement Award — Anita Swart of Seymour

Paul Roahrig Memorial President’s Award — Ella Boyd of Columbus

Bill Hadar of Columbus was recognized for 28 years of service as director of DSI. He is retiring in January.


No posts to display