Prescott, AZ - Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) Executive Director Brad Newman and crew are pleased to announce that staff member Ron Aguilera has received an award representing the Direct Support Professional of the Year 2016 sponsored by the Department of Economic Security (DES) in Arizona. DES awards and honors those Direct Support Professionals and Direct Support Supervisors for the exceptional work they do in providing support for individuals with developmental disabilities. Aguilera was one of 12 recipients out of 180 outstanding individuals who were nominated. At an awards ceremony and luncheon on September 16 in Phoenix, DES honored Aguilera and those recipients who were chosen for their dedication, commitment and excellence in their caregiving roles.
In his Direct Support Professional role at Yavapai Exceptional Industries, Aguilera personifies the “people first” initiative of working with disabled adults, always seeking to engage with the individuals he serves on a personal level. Aguilera’s personality is key: he is adept at making people feel comfortable, putting people at ease with casual conversation, educating those around him, and entertaining everyone in his presence—all at the same time. Aguilera is 100% involved in the delivery of direct care not only during the work day, but also during the evenings and on weekends. He has lent his dedication to YEI! for over 19 years and worked previously with the Hozhoni Foundation for four years—all in Direct Support. YEI! Executive Director Brad Newman says, “Ron is the poster child for YEI! He is completely hands-on and dedicated all the time.”
Those who know Aguilera are eager to note his quick-witted and sophisticated humor with a hint of self-deprecation. Says, Newman, “Ron is the funniest guy there is—and certainly the funniest guy I know. His decorated workspace displays his talent as a trained commercial graphic artist. Any note or poster he creates yields a true work of art that is funny, eye-catching and captivating.” Ron’s classic signature style with dark glasses, beret and vest makes him a standout at all YEI! facilities and within the community. His rapport with families, partners, and community members makes a lasting impression on all who encounter him. Balanced with his sense of humor, gracious giving and unwavering dedication to those at YEI! and beyond, Aguilera is also a talented and sought-after percussionist and guitarist. He is a member of one of the most established families in Prescott, Arizona: his father was instrumental in bringing cable television and Internet to Prescott, and the library at the historic Washington School on Gurley Street was named after his mother.
In the Prescott community, one of the most significant challenges facing individuals with disabilities seeking to maximize their independence is transportation. Aguilera is always ready and willing to drive people where they need to be—from doctor’s appointments, to community job placements, to volunteer opportunities. He has even been known to drive clients to other cities without a moment’s hesitation, in addition to transporting locally seven days a week.
Aguilera is a true believer in the power of work to transform lives, and he is a tireless advocate for YEI! and for community work opportunities. He continually works to integrate YEI! members in all manners of community life and, conversely, brings those community resources to members. He created the YEI! Drum Class, a big hit at the parade honoring the World’s Oldest Rodeo annually in Prescott, and regularly arranges YEI! visits from the Foot Angel—a registered nurse specializing in foot care. Currently Aguilera is working to implement a “Learning to Play the Native Flute” class on the YEI! campus. Whether it be individual placements or group placements, Aguilera excels at identifying the needs of both the employer and the employee, striving to ensure that everyone is on the same page at all times. Adds Newman, “If someone needs something, Ron is always there, and always on call. There is no down time for Ron. He takes it all in stride and does it with such ease and enjoyment.”