County Government Honors Arlington's Caregivers


(Saturday, March 8, 2008 3:06 PM EST)

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities face significant challenges. But, with the help of caregivers, they are able to be active participants in their community, and reach their dreams.

The county government recently recognized some of Arlington's caregivers at an awards ceremony held at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

County Manager Ron Carlee thanked caregivers for making “the quality of life better for those with challenges,” and also thanked those with intellectual and developmental disabilities for making the “quality of life better for the rest of us, as well.”

“We're honoring what you give back to the community,” he said.

“It's an honor and a privilege to acknowledge those who have worked so hard to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said County Board Vice Chairman Barbara Favola, who was the event's keynote speaker.

“We all have the same DNA, we have the same desires, the same motivations,” Favola said. “Those who are caregivers are helping [individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities] achieve their dreams.”

Community Caregivers Awards, which recognize individuals who provide an extraordinary level of service that enables a person with disabilities to continue living at home, were presented to Angela Benitez, Carolyn Hottenstein, Brenda Jones, Sandra McCleod, Tostia Tesfazion and Robert Werth.

Individuals who have provided many years of meaningful and effective service and advocacy at the state or federal level, benefiting Arlington's citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented for the first time this year.

Those honorees included Nancy Kyle Claffy, Judi and Rusty Garth and Virginia Martin.

While the recipients said they were honored to receive the award, they didn't focus the spotlight on themselves.

“Each client has allowed me to see the beauty of the world through their eyes,” said Claffy, founder of the Villa Maria Work/Study Center. “I thank you, and I am deeply humbled.”

The Garths said they were “honored to be one of the first recipients of the award,” but also reminded the crowd that “there are lifetimes of work to be done.”

At the ceremony, County Board Chairman Walter Tejada read a proclamation designating March as “Including People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Month in Arlington County.”

“We celebrate our diversity,” Tejada said. “We work hard to take care of everyone. With limited resources, we have to make some tough decisions, but we are committed to the most vulnerable in the community.”

Nancy Kyle Claffy, second from right, founder of the Villa Maria Work/Study Center, received a lifetime achievement award during the county government's salute to caregivers.
(Photo by Maggie Winters)

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