This award is named in honor of Paul Kahn, a long time PCA employer and advocate who died this past January. Having personal care assistants gave Paul the freedom to live on his own terms. It allowed him to pursue his art, writing, teaching and advocacy activities. Without PCAs Paul would have remained institutionalized and not have made his many contributions to the disability and independent living communities. This award, in his name, honors the PCAs who do this important work every day.
2013 Paul Kahn Awards Nomination Forms
2012 Winners of the Paul Kahn Award for PCA Service
Caroline Craig – Southeastern MA
Caroline began performing PCA work when she was 17. For more than three decades Caroline has continued providing assistance as a PCA. RG, the employer who nominated Caroline, recounted a time when Caroline was at the hospital until 1 a.m., due to the illness of one of her children. Caroline still showed up to work bright and early that morning. RG is quadriplegic and in need of a high level of assistance. Caroline has sought out training for dealing with bed sores, catheterization, intravenous procedures and other areas. Caroline has trained four of her children to do PCA work and says that what she values most about her work is “helping someone achieve independence”.
Vicente de la Rosa – Northeastern MA
Vicente, who has been a PCA for eight years, was nominated by two of his employers, J.C. and J.S. Vicente was born in the Dominican Republic, where he worked in a hospital before emigrating to the U.S in 1999. Vicente attends medical appointments with each man and gives out medications. He has also trained other PCA’s for both of them. J.C. shared an occasion when he was hospitalized with severe pneumonia for two weeks. Vicente continued to visit him and provide care to him during his stay even though he would not be paid for those hours. Vicente is a member of the collective bargaining committee for 1199SEIU and also serves on the labor management committee.
Doris Forcier – Central MA
For over 14 years, Doris has been the primary PCA FOR Ms. F., who has MS and is paralyzed from the waist down. Doris not only schedules and attends all of Ms. F’s medical appointments; she also assists the surrogate with interviewing and training other PCAs. For these reasons, Olivia refers to Doris as her “majordomo”. Once, while on her way to a culinary school class, Doris received a call that Ms. F. had been taken to the emergency room. Doris immediately went there and stayed by Ms. F.’s side until her health improved. Doris didn’t get to finish culinary school but helps control Ms. F’s blood sugar by preparing her healthy lunches and dinners every day.
Wadson Michel – Greater Boston
Wadson has worked with R. for more than ten years. Wadson met R.’s mother at a conference on autism and agreed to work as R.’s PCA. He takes R. out on his boat and has taught him to help steer so that R. can be a captain of his own ship and feel a sense of control. They go roller skating together and truly relate to each other. When R. began having outbursts at his day program, Wadson took the extra time to go and observe R. Based on what he saw and his ability to communicate with R., Wadson resolved the issue. When told how fortunate R. is to have him, Wadson said the opposite is true: I am lucky to have R. in my life.
Laurie Swane – Western MA
Laurie has been the primary PCA to P.V. for the past four years. She attends doctor appointments with him and assists with hiring and training new PCAs. Laurie is a certified CNA who initially worked in a nursing home. Laurie decided that she wanted a position that would allow her to provide more individual care and assist people to stay in their own home. When P. was hospitalized for six weeks, Laurie visited him throughout his stay and assured him that she would continue to be his PCA when he returned home after rehab. It was so important for P. to know he would have continuity of care when he left the hospital and he was amazed that she would do so without receiving any pay during his stay.
2011 Winners of the Paul Kahn Award for PCA Service
Luci Johnson - Lowell
Luci was nominated by the father/surrogate of David, a 44 year old male diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Spastic Quadriplegia. Luci is one of several PCAs assisting David. She always makes certain the other PCAs are up to date on any health problems David may be having. Two years ago, David transitioned from living with his parents to living in his own apartment. Luci visited him on her own time, including during an ice storm, to calm any fears caused by the new environment. The management of David's building has chosen him as "resident of the year".
Johanna Montalvo - Worcester
Johanna Montalvo has been a PCA for 9 years. She met her consumer/employer and helped her for about a year prior to being paid through the PCA program. Johanna said she believes in providing care for those who need it, something she learned in her native Dominican Republic, where a high value is placed on caring for others. "The most important part of my job", Johanna said, "is that I feel useful and I like helping people."Johanna is a delegate in the PCA union and has joined others at the State House to advocate for full funding of the PCA program and fair wages and benefits for PCAs.
Terri Morris - Middleborough
A former registered nurse, Terri has spent the last 30 years committed to the PCA program. When asked what she likes best about being a PCA, Terri said: "I'm helping someone's life be independent." Tom, Terri's consumer/employer, describes her as being prompt, professional, and caring. "She takes her job seriously," explains Tom. Terri has taken a leadership role on behalf of PCAs in the Brockton area, and has run meetings there with local PCAs.
Patricia Peles - Springfield
Both parents of Brian, a 22 year old man with severe disabilities, nominated "Trish" as Patricia is known to them. Trish has provided care to Brian since he was 4 years old. When Brian was in a full body cast for 10 weeks after serious surgery, Trish devoted herself to Brian's care. Staff at the hospital remarked that maintaining cleanliness in that condition was extremely difficult, but that Brian was the cleanest person they had seen. Trish meets Brian's bus from his day program every afternoon and cares for him until his parents get home from work. "We are totally at ease,"Brian's father said, "knowing Brian is in great hands every day"
Noah Zizinga - Watertown
Noah was born in Uganda and came to the United States when he was in his mid thirties. For 14 years Noah worked as a PCA for Jimi Tierney, a long time manager at the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL). Jimi was totally dependent on Noah for his care and, over the years, Noah became regarded as a member of Jimi's family. About being a PCA, Noah said, "This work fulfilled me."Noah has recruited others to work as PCAs. As Jimi's PCA, Noah was a presence at BCIL and when Jimi died earlier this year, BCIL hired Noah as a skills trainer. Due to his diligence and hard work, his hours at BCIL were recently increased.
2010 Winners of the Paul Kahn Award for PCA Service
Below are profiles of the five winners of this year's award. Each awardee is pictured with Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby and Veronica Turner, Executive Vice President of 1199 SEIU Health Care Workers East.
Amarilis DePina, Brockton, MA
Ms. DePina, who has been working as a PCA for five years, has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant for more than twenty years. Amarilis was working at a rehabilitation facility when she met the Susan, woman for whom she now works as a PCA. In her nomination letter, Susan said "She has come in bad snow, ice, rain or wind storms. ...Even when her husband passed away unexpectedly ... she found coverage to take care of me..."
Eric Osgood, Bondsville, MA
Mr. Osgood was nominated by Judy Sherman, a service coordinator of the Dept. of Developmental Services. She came to know Eric through his work Community Options. Eric worked as a mentor with Scott, offering vocational supports in a school to work program. When Scott graduated, became employed and moved into his own apartment, Eric became his PCA and later his roommate. As Ms. Sherman said in her letter: "Eric opened up his world to Scott, introducing him to his son...and a new array of friends... "Over the past six years Eric has been an integral part of Scott's world, respectfully attending to his myriad emotional and physical needs. In so doing Eric has helped a young man to gain success, maturity and greater independence."
Maria C. Garcia, Lynn, MA
Ms. Garcia, who came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when she was 12, has lived in Lynn since 1972. She has been a PCA for ten years and was nominated by Laura, the surrogate for Janet, the consumer Maria works for. In her letter Laura said, "Maria...does not think twice about giving up her weekend or working hours that are not...going to be paid...(Maria) is not only Janet's PCA but her friend. She takes Janet out shopping and to Friendly's for her birthday..."
Mary C. Ketter, East Boston, MA
Ms. Ketter says that: "PCA work is very hard but getting to know my employer on a personal level is very rewarding. I love this job." Linda, the employer who nominated Mary said : "(Mary) started working for me several years after she moved here from Kenya. Mary learned to perform my complicated care with an expertise... that I had never before witnessed... Mary also provides valuable insights regarding my medical problems to my health care providers. She coordinates my home health care program (and) trains new PCAs in the complex aspects of my daily care."
Rosa D. Amegah, Worcester, MA
Ms. Amegah's reputation is such that she was nominated by three separate individuals. A Worcester native, Rosa is an L.P.N. she has worked as a PCA for thirty years. Regarding her PCA work, Rosa said: "It is not about the money. It is about the caring and being there for a person in need." One of the letters of nomination was from the wife of one of Rosa's consumer/employer and spoke of how Rosa assessed him from head to toe and informed her of his physical problems and needs. Rosa also provided assistance with program paperwork. Rosa serves as a delegate for the PCA union and, as such, is an important link in connecting hundreds of PCAs working in the Worcester area. "