Champions of the Disabled named
June 6, 2007
May 2007, recognized and proclaimed Disability Awareness Month by Mayor Kathay Lovell and the South Lake Tahoe City Council, reached a fitting climax during a celebratory luncheon where Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled recognized and honored the 2007 Distinguished Champions of the Disabled.
Long recognized and respected as advocates for and supporters of the rights of persons with disabilities, facilitators of low-income housing for seniors and low-income housing for disabled persons (their Emerald Bay Road housing project should break ground shortly), transportation rights and accessibility issues, TACCD sought nominations for recognition of suitable individuals or businesses and met May 21 to present the certificates. During the presentation ceremony attended by more than 50 members of the community, the advocates, supporters and defenders identified this year were presented with a certificate by president David Kelly and secretary John Pillsbury acknowledging their dedication to ensuring the best possible quality of life for individuals with disabilities. The meeting was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and a tribute to our troops who are serving overseas. During the presentations Kelly offered tributes to each recipient.
Vernon A. Bry, M.D.
Dr. Vernon Bry is on contract with El Dorado County Mental Health South Lake Tahoe to provide case management services when clients don’t have a designated case manager, spending enough time with clients to ensure their needs are met. Working above and beyond, Dr. Bry encourages and makes himself available for staff team meetings and education regarding current treatments, medications and other supports appropriate for individual clients. He has always been open to input from family members, and even in personal crisis, Dr. Bry has made it to the clinic to see patients.
Denise Burke is solely responsible for several people with various disabilities having safe and decent housing. She is co-chair of the El Dorado County Mental Health Commission, NAMI volunteer, and client advocate who volunteers her time outside work to run errands, assist in conducting personal business and locate resources for home-bound persons with disabilities. Burke is a friend and positive voice in the community for those sometimes ignored or unable to make themselves heard effectively. One member of the community coping with multiple disabilities describes her as a “true life saver. Without Denise, it would be so much more difficult if not impossible for me to live independently and have the quality of life I have now. Denise was a God-send and a blessing. I wouldn’t be alive now without her. I am grateful and proud to call her friend.”
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Police Chief Terry Daniels
Chief Terry Daniels of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department has worked diligently to ensure that his officers and staff remain fully responsive to the needs of disabled citizens and visitors. Further, they understand that the police department is an integral part of our community and should respond appropriately when requested, no matter the level of need. Chief Daniels has taken an active interest in solving the problems of seniors and disabled and has facilitated with TACCD and the City Council to increase the fines for parking illegally in a disabled parking space.
Carol Embry is the new advisor with the People First, working tirelessly to make sure all members are treated with respect, that they are able to attend and enjoy their social gatherings, and that they can and do participate in advocating for rights of the disabled.
Karen Engle, a nurses aide, is described as “a good Samaritan” by an appreciative client. Aside from her job description and work hours, Karen takes the time to befriend and assist a number of seniors and disabled people with taking care of whatever their needs may be. Her kind and gentle manner is appreciated by the many people who have been touched by her heart and the respect she shows.
Nancy Hayden, community editor at the Tahoe Daily Tribune and an integral part of our community for 30 years, has the responsibility of reporting on local events for the South Lake Tahoe community including arranging for the newspaper’s photographer and juggling organizations and events for publishing. Hayden could, by all rights, wield the power she holds with disregard, yet with a kind and considerate hand, she makes sure that each community event is reported honestly and impartially, and that each organization receives fair and equitable press. Included in those who receive her consideration is the disabled community in many forms. She makes sure that people with disabilities are given the same importance as any other organization or group, exactly what TACCD strives to achieve – equal consideration for disabled people, and full inclusion in all things, just like everyone else.
Nancy Holmes, PT, administers medications at the El Dorado County Mental Health facility. She spends extra time to go out to patients’ homes in good or bad weather to make sure they have their medications and are doing well. She assists with Medicare, Medi-Cal and Medicaid problems and issues, fighting for their rights. She helps get them set up with the proper insurance, working with pharmaceutical representatives to get medications for clients who run out of funds, even using her own money for clients who need bus fare or a phone card to keep in touch with their families. She truly cares for clients medically as well as personally.
Judge Suzanne Kingsbury
The Honorable Suzanne Kingsbury has proven herself to be a strong, no-nonsense, yet compassionate judge. In her work environment she has labored diligently to level the playing field in a variety of ways for persons with disabilities, with the Mental Health Court being an important and notable success. Under a new grant, Judge Kingsbury has expanded the much-needed Mental Health Court process to Placerville. She showed them well how it is done; she is available for consultation; and has assigned Judge Wagner to the Placerville court. As an individual, she shows her humanitarian side by taking extra interest in all folks with disabilities. If she recognizes a disabled person at work, she makes sure to let them know she respects what they are doing and celebrates their successes with them.
Lt. Les Lovell
Lt. Les Lovell, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, has worked diligently to ensure that his officers and staff remain fully responsive to the needs of disabled citizens and visitors. Further, that they understand that the sheriff’s department is an integral part of our community and should respond appropriately when requested, no matter the level of need. Lt. Lovell has taken an active interest in solving the problems of seniors and disabled in the county, and is instituting a program of instruction for his officers and staff on better understanding of and how to deal more appropriately with persons with disabilities. Lt. Lovell is working with the Board of Supervisors in an attempt to increase throughout the county the fines for parking illegally in a disabled parking space, commensurate with the fine recently implemented in South Lake Tahoe.
Marvin Buchmiller, Coco Kelly
Marvin Buchmiller and Coco Kelly of Substitute Personnel & Business Services were honored for their continued dedication to helping people with disabilities become an integral part of the community, for assisting with TACCD secretarial needs, and for absorbing the costs of regular TACCD mailings and monthly telephone service. The Substitute’s Supported Employment Division assists disabled persons in getting and maintaining mainstream jobs which allows their clients the opportunity to feel the accomplishment and self-respect of being a productive member of society. Kelly works behind the scenes on paperwork and program coordination so Buchmiller can work with the clients where, according to agencies, families and clients alike, he excels. The team works sometimes seven days a week, and Buchmiller can be found helping clients at nearly any hour of the day or night as the need arises. Both Kelly and Buchmiller are also independent living instructors.
In a touching and tearful pre-award presentation, Special Olympian Gordon Bonar honored Dr. Scott Southard by placing a Special Olympics Gold Medal around his neck and offering a heartfelt hug in appreciation of Dr. Southard’s “gold medal” support and friendship. This special man who has continually served the Team Tahoe Special Olympians by providing free annual physicals so the athletes can safely compete in their sport is loved by each Olympian. He is known as the doctor with a heart, a friend, and a respectful advocate of all people with disabilities. Dr. Southard’s acceptance of the medal and of his well-deserved certificate didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.
For the second year in a row, TACCD’s own version of “Best of Tahoe” – Tahoe’s Most Friendly/Most Accommodating/Most Accessible to Seniors and Disabled has been posted on their Web site: TahoeAreaCoordinatingCouncilForTheDisabled.com. They include Embassy Suites at Stateline, Ernie’s Restaurant, Taqueria Jalisco, Lakeside Inn & Casino, Raley’s at the Y Pharmacy, MS Dixie, Safeway Stores, Sierra at Tahoe, Clarke Plumbing and Heating, Genasci & Steigers Dentistry, Dr. Scott Southard, Dr. Bruce Dougherty and Dr. Andrew Tang. See the Web site for additional honorees.
And finally, sincere thanks was extended to Bob Headley and Aspen Realty for their recent generous contribution. It was reported that the donation allowed TACCD to host the awards luncheon this year and will continue to support the efforts of TACCD in 2007.
Anyone wishing to support TACCD in their good work may send donations to TACCD, 2572 Lake Tahoe Blvd., Suite 2, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.