2017 Finalists


Outstanding Caregiver(back to top)

Alexandra Ahumada

Position: Caregiver

Organization: Attentive Home Care



Alex, who is one of our outstanding caregivers, has worked with Attentive Home care for over five years. Before she found her place as a valuable member of our team, Alex has worked in customer service and retail. She also went to school to become a Certified Nurse Assistant and recently got her LVN license. Alex explains that her passion for caregiving was inspired by her mother, who set a great example with her drive to selflessly help others. Her mother, who is actively involved in church, taught Alex the value of hard work and compassion, traits that she later applied to her profession. Alex describes herself as friendly, hard-working, and a go-getter. She is someone who dreams big and works hard to reach her goals.

Elena Bor

Position: Primary Caregiver

Organization: Amazing Grace & Care


Elena felt her calling for seniors while she was working her first job in the United States. As she put it, “I just knew I must help; I have to help them in their last years.” She loves communicating with seniors and doesn’t want anyone to be alone or neglected. She is totally hands-on when it comes to caring for her residents.

In 2014, Elena was called to assess a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. This woman is my wife, Joan. She was no longer able to walk, talk or care for herself. Joan ...

Jesus Rivera

Position: Certified Home Health Aide

Organization: Sanctuary Hospice


Jesus has shown consistency through his career with many acts of sympathy and care. We are constantly receiving positive feedback about Jesus, from families, patients, and the community.

Recently a family wanted to make the heroism of CHHA Jesus Rivera known to his supervisors. They expressed that Jesus had changed the way all family members felt about current condition of this Sanctuary patient, if even for a short moment. In the sons words, "Jesus made my dad look CLEAN, not just in ...

Francisco “Frank” Franje

Position: Caregiver

Organization: Attentive Home Care



Frank has been working for the same client his entire career with Attentive Home Care, almost 3 years! During this time Frank has gone from being the reliever for this particular client to the sole caregiver.

Prior to working as a caregiver, Frank served as captain on cargo ships and had the opportunity to travel the world before retiring after 32 years of service. Frank recalls one assignment as captain of a ship delivering supplies from Saigon to Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Ingry Lucas

Position: Caregiver

Organization: Senior Helpers


Ingry is an exceptional Caregiver, she is also our most requested Caregiver. Ingry has a way with her clients that is very comforting. She is patient, kind, and respectful. She knows that even though her clients skin is aged, they are still young at heart, and she loves to laugh with her clients every day. Ingry has quoted Proverbs 16:31 which states "a gray hair is a crown of beauty", and she truly believes that. She has learned so much from her clients and truly has wisdom beyon ...

Carol Orozco

Position: Caregiver

Organization: The Groves of Tustin


When I first arrived at The Groves I was barely able to walk, let alone know who and what or where I was. I came straight to The Groves after spending over a week in the Hospital with a toxic level of medications in my system.

On arriving at The Groves, my family saw to it that I had a room with some of my furniture and pictures of my children, who live in New York and Santa Monica.

Well, this incredible person entered my confused state of mind and body- Carol!! Her main job was to see that I ...

Liz Zuniga

Position: Caregiver

Organization: Comfort Keepers


Liz has a unique ability to work with our Veterans. Our veteran clients can be physically and mentally challenging. These are short shifts, 3 to 4 hours, but they are physically and emotionally draining. Liz has a special way of not only meeting their needs but changing their lives. One of her veteran clients living conditions were unspeakable. She not only cleaned the unliveable 10x12 one room studio, but fixed light fixtures, repaired furniture and hand rails, and found a few used pieces o ...

Melanie Finder

Position: Home Care Aide

Organization: Oasis In-Home Care


The word “Hero” defines someone who “in the face of adversity or from a position of weakness, displays courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism”. While all Oasis caregivers consistently and compassionately engage with their senior clients, Melanie Finder embodies this ethic in a way that sets her apart from her colleagues.

Melanie’s selflessness has been clearly demonstrated in her willingness to self-sacrifice for the sake of her clients. Of the many instances that ...


Outstanding Social Worker(back to top)

Kim DeLiema

Position: Social Worker

Organization: Hoag Hospita


One recent story that Kim recounts, involves an elderly woman who fractured her pelvis, but did not meet conditions for being admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, this is a pretty common issue as Medicare has strict guidelines to admit a patient. This particular scenario took place very late in the afternoon, on a Saturday. To make matters more challenging, the patient's entire family was out of town. Kim was put to the test to quickly arrange reliable services for this patient. After ...

Michael Demoratz

Position: Clinical Hospice Social Worker

Organization: Memorial Care Hospice and Palliative Services


Dr. Michael Demoritz is there 24/7 for his patients and families to ease their anxiety and provide support . He has a passion for what he does that shows through his kindness to families and patients. He is calming and comforting to all those around him.

Michael is admired in the community as a expert on POLST, hospice, Palliative care and end of life issues.

Those that know Michael know of his drive and compassion to go beyond his job duties. He has a strong spirit when it comes to helping f ...

Erika Duarte

Position: Director of Social Services

Organization: The Pavilion at Sunny Hills


On any given day, you will hear Erika Duarte say "I love my job!"

Her love for serving seniors compelled her to put herself through the USC Masters program in Social Service and she is currently working on her Doctorate of Leadership and Gerontology from Concordia University Chicago.

Her love for helping vulnerable seniors began as she volunteered in high school about 16 hours a week at a nursing home in Fullerton. Her involvement there opened her eyes to how unique each of the res ...

Catherine Beltran

Position: Director of Social Services

Organization: Alamitos West Health Care Center



Catherine Beltran is the Social Service Director at Alamitos West Healthcare Center. Catherine has been in the Senior Care industry for over 17 years, helping families and seniors in Southern California especially those in the South Bay and Orange County. She was a Director of Social Services for 15 years assisting various building and social workers throughout the country. But Catherine’s beginnings are humble. Living in a small town with a big family it was hard to receive the attention and care needed to grow up, as a child she received most of her care meals, clothing shoes all provided by her grandmother who helped raise her. She stated that their bond was unlike any other. A bond she treasures and who inspired her to attend the University of Centro Scholar. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and shortly received a position as a Social Worker in the United States.

Carleena Bhaduri

Position: Family Care Associate II

Organization: Alzheimer's Orange County


The one constant throughout Carleena’s life was her grandparents and her great-grandmother, who later developed dementia. Carleena still recalls the final time she saw her. She was bedridden at that time, and, as she lay her newborn daughter in her arms in a room filled with five generations, she experienced a moment of clarity in which she told my daughter that she loved her. She said to her that she knew she would not live to see her grow up, but that she would always be looking down on h ...

Dereck Cretz

Position: Director of Social Services

Organization: Alamitos Belmont Rehabilitation Hospital



Dereck Cretz has been the Social Worker at Alamitos Belmont Rehab Hospital since 2003. The role of the Social Worker in a skilled nursing setting is to be a patient advocate and to do whatever it takes to ensure that the resident’s needs are being met.

Dereck has gone above and beyond helping all residents in the facility but he really goes out of his way to help our residents that have no family. One resident had no family and Dereck brought in some extra clothes because the resident had none. The resident was so grateful because it was winter and he needed more than a hospital gown. Another resident who is still in the facility faced the same issues and had very little help from his family. This particular resident needed to vacate his senior living apartment and needed to move his things into a storage unit. Dereck was able to get a truck and a friend to help move this resident. Dereck did this on his own time and used his own expenses. This was not the first time that Dereck helped move a resident. Dereck also uses his own money to buy sodas and cereal for another long-term resident that is limited on funds and lacks family support.

Ashley Tom

Position: Director of Social Services

Organization: Crystal Cove Care Center


Ashley was initially going to be a teacher, and got her degree in that, but had a difficult time finding a job in her field when she got out of college. So, to make ends meet, she got into marketing. One thing led to another, and she eventually got her social service designee certification. She was then asked to apply for a position at her current employer.

She loves spending extra time with the seniors as they are admitted and have to navigate the sometimes confusing stay in a skilled nursin ...


Outstanding Nurse (back to top)

Sarah Rafael

Position: Nurse Manager

Organization: ActivCare at Brittany House


She has never been afraid to jump in with both feet. Whether it is providing the residents and families with a 4th of July party complete with Karaoke or giving a shower to a difficult to manage resident-Sarah is a team player. She is devoted, dedicated and committed to the residents at Brittany House-all of which have some form of Alzheimer's or related dementia

Marylyn Hagerty

Position: Nurse Practitioner

Organization: CareMore Touch


By teaching and training facility staff and precepting students in the art of caring for the frail elderly, Marylyn displays , every day, the passion she has for the elderly and their families. Recently she had a relatively young woman diagnosed with cancer, already with extensive metastasis. This woman had a daughter, an only child, who could not believe this diagnosis could be true. Marylyn spent hours going over scans, and blood test results, calling specialist, arranging second opinions, et ..

Nancy Amo

Position: Faith Community nurse

Organization: Trinity Presbyterian Church


For over 10 years, Nancy has been involved with Mr. B’s life and care as the parish nurse at his church. When they met, he was healthy, walking 6 miles a day, living independently in his Section 8 apartment and managing his finances. He cared for himself on his less than $800/mo income. Mr. B has no family, has been hearing impaired from early life and therefore difficult to understand his speech.
Over the years, things diminished, he now has dementia, unable to manage his finances, but stil ...

Yvonne Wu

Position: Manager

Organization: CareMore Touch


Yvonne initially worked for a private doctor who had her managing patients from the San Gabriel Valley to Dana Point. She spent long hours doing tasks, but not making a real difference in the lives of these elderly. Once she joined the CareMore Touch team, she was delighted to find she could spend time with her patients, their families and also with the management to assure everyone was working for the best interest of the patient.
Yvonne has precepted many student Nurse Practitioners and enco ...

Erica Bengs

Position: Patient Care Coordinator

Organization: Silverado Hospice


As you can see after 19 years at Silverado, Erica is a very caring, compassionate person. Erica is a very driven and dedicated person. She is always meticulous in her work, no matter how long it takes. I can recount multiple occasions of having to remind her to leave the office due to her feeling the need to complete every last detail of her job. Although Erica does work as an office associate, her main focus is always the patients. She wants to ensure that they have all necessary supplies, med ...

Dena Izumoto

Position: Patient Care Coordinator

Organization: Silverado Hospice


Dena has been here at Silverado when it was first started. The first Silverado Senior Living, ever!! And Dena still working with Silverado today, but with Silverado Hospice. She is very dedicated, caring employee. Dena spends hours ordering supplies, medications and medical equipment to assure our patients are well taken care of. Dena is a hero to all our field staff at Silverado Hospice.

Melissa Salazar

Position: RN,

Organization: Los Alamitos Medical Center


When I asked Melissa why she went in to nursing this is what she said: I always wanted to be a teacher and that was my goal, but my dad got sick and I had to take care of him. He was my first patient and he encouraged me to persuade nursing. At first I was hesitant, but my dad gave the courage to go for it. I'm so happy I did, I get to make a real difference in people's life's. I get to help them when they need it the most, nothing can prepare them for what they're going thr ...

Cassilde Nzohabonayo

Position: Case Manager

Organization: Vitas Healthcare


It is a difficult position to be in when serving peoples who are facing the end of their life and when families are igrieving, but Cassilde keeps her mind constantly open to bring in positive energy, in order for every one in those families to be comfortable both physically and emotionally.


Outstanding Physician (back to top)

Michael Poliskie

Position: Podiatrist

Organization: Orange County Global Medical


What makes Dr. Poliskie a very exceptional and outstanding doctor is the warm-hearted greetings he gives me when I walk into his office. He makes a person feels more than at home. He has a heart that shows he cares about me beyond just being his patient.

Dr. P has a very distinct Southern drawl that makes you feel down home. He takes such a personal interest in you as a whole person that even if you’re in pain when you walk in his office, you almost forget all about it once you’re sitting ...

Gregory Wong

Position: Staff Physician, Internal Medicine

Organization: AltaMed Health Services


Dr. Wong demonstrates his sincere belief that the Patient always comes first, one of AltaMed’s core values, as evident by the way he cares for his patients. He is always willing to go above and beyond to ensure that his patients receive the care that they need. An example of this is when one of Dr. Wong’s patients was in a skilled nursing facility and both patient and family members were having a difficult time coping. They felt lost and confused about what to do next. Dr. Wong went to the ..

Michael Malouf

Position: Physician, Medical Director

Organization:St. Joseph Health


Dr Malouf is a hero to his patients and their families, colleagues and staff for many reasons however, the two that seem to emerge when talking with others are: generosity of time and humility.

Like most physicians, Dr. Malouf’s day begins at the break of dawn. However, more than likely he has spent the night answering multiple calls from the St. Joseph Hospice team; calls to relieve a cancer patient’s pain or to ease the anxiety of an elderly patient with end stage dementia. Sometimes these ...

John Geiss

Position: Doctor

Organization: Geiss Med


Majority of the doctors are aware that once they clock out of their daily jobs they no longer have the obligations of being concerned about a patient but being a house call doctor is different. Dr. Geiss has given and continues to give his personal contact information to not only healthcare professionals but also to family members and patients. He has given them that opportunity to reach him at any point of a day or night without any hesitations. Throughout the time that I have known him not o ...

Dung Trinh

Position: Chief Medical Officer

Organization: Irvine Clinical Research


Dr Trinh has made numerous presentations to medical, senior and academic groups to increase the awareness of Alzheimer's and other dementia related illnesses. He has also traveled to depressed countries to treat patients pro bono. His commitment to treatment and education of patients his a high priority.

Dung Trinh

Position: Family Medicine

Organization: Anaheim Regional Medical Center


Dr. Smith has been practicing medicine for about 56 years now. Many of his patients have been with him for over 40 years – longer than many marriages! The reason his patients are so loyal is because he is absolutely focused on them as people, not billing numbers or diagnoses.

One such patient who has been with Dr. Smith for almost 40 years is 93-year-old “Charlie.” Charlie was still running his own business as a civil engineer into his 90’s, and was an active person. But in the recent ...

Mojtaba Sabahi

Position: : Internist/ Geriatrics

Organization: Friendly Care Medical Group Inc.



Dr. Sabahi is not the typical California doctor, he goes above and beyond with every patient that he sees. He personally looks and contact the resources need for each one of them. He sees every one, no questions regardless of insurance. If they can't pay, he doesn't ever takes anyone to collections. He said " I love to care for all the patients regardless of income level, I see every one the same way. I can't have anyone not having care". He even has gone to the point of providing assistant, covering medications, Home Caregiver Services and other economic services for elderly seniors or patients that can't afford it.

Torsten Kruse

Position: Internal Medicine Physician

Organization: St. Joseph Health, Mission Heritage Medical Group


Dr. Kruse serves his patients and coworkers with excellence, connection, and compassion. An administrator at Mission Heritage Medical Group recently rounded with Dr. Kruse at a local skilled nursing facility. Dr. Kruse introduced every staff member, administrator and patient by name to the Mission administrator. The administrator couldn’t believe that Dr. Kruse knew everyone’s name despite the volume of patients he sees and the various skilled nursing facilities he serves. Dr. Kruse takes t ...


Outstanding Executive Director (back to top)

Rick Davis

Position: Director of Community Relations

Organization: Attentive Home Care


Anyone who has met or knows Rick Davis knows his passion for helping seniors. He works tirelessly to create a company that provides the best internal staff, caregivers and service possible. He takes the well being of his employees and clients personally. An example of this happened one New Year's Eve when he was informed a caregiver, that was assigned as a bed sitter at a skilled nursing facility was afraid and felt threatened by the patient. Rick, himself, relieved the caregiver and stayed ...

Nathan Beck

Position: Administrator

Organization: Beachside Nursing Center


Nathan has exceeded his job description by going above and beyond for his patients. Many of Beachside’s patients that come to get rehabilitation at the facility have family members that do not live close by or no family members at all. A particular situation was when a family member could not make it in time to bring their favorite meal to their loved one for dinner. It was after office hours and Nathan still went out of his way to grab what they were craving for dinner that evening. Not ...

Kristina Watanabe-Hylton

Position: Executive Director

Organization: The Groves of Tustin


An example of her caring attitude toward our residents is that of a World War II veteran who had fought at Iwo Jima. His mind was sharp, but he wanted to talk obsessively about his war experience, and after residents heard his stories several times, many of them became frustrated and complained to management about being forced to listen to the same stories repeatedly. When the resident found that other residents had complained about him, he became angry and began isolating in his apartment. K ....

Becky Lomaka

Position: Director of Grief Support and Education

Organization: O'Connor Mortuary


After moving to Orange County, Becky worked for Age Well for nearly 15 years. It was 4 1/2 years ago that she felt called to explore an opportunity with O’Connor Mortuary. History was made. At O’Connor, Becky serves a great role than she realizes. She is a top-level resource for health care partners and for the community at large for grief and end-of life education. She has been that “lit candle” or beacon of hope for families during their darkest hours when they face the insurmountable ...

Sonia Patricia Francia Garcia

Position: Executive Director

Organization: Guardian Angels Homes


Sonia is an advocate of the senior care industry, she is the silent volunteer behind scenes, always helping and always making a difference. If you want to help some one and want it done, reach out to Sonia, she will find a way or will guide you on the right direction. She always goes above and beyond any other person I know. Her bilingual skills are priceless specially when she focus on helping the Orange County Hispanic community understand aging and specially educating the community about Alz ...

Suzanne Nasraty

Position: Executive Director

Organization: Park Vista Health Center


It's not unusual to see Suzanne at the facility as late as 8-9pm. She never asks more of her staff than she's willing to give. The staff kids her because she has an extra set of clothes at the facility. Her philosophy is truly "residents first."

She proves her dedication over and over, but there is one particular story that stands out. There was a gentleman who had been living in the retirement part of our community for many years – we were his home. He was diagnosed with ...

Brenda Huante

Position: Executive Director

Organization: St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center


One example of Brenda’s willingness to take on any task and any challenge happened just a couple months ago. The daughter of a gentleman who was in the hospital down in N ...


Jan Strickland

Position: Executive Director

Organization: Right At Home


Our business has grown steadily, because of the passion and sincerity Jan brings to the business, and because of the credibility she exhibits every day. She not only exceeds the standards of performance measurements, she sets the standards. While many Hero award recipients can state that they work well with others, and that they motivate others, and that they are looked to as a leader, I can go on and on with specific examples of areas where Jan’s love for people, her advocacy for her client ...


Outstanding Senior Care Professional (back to top)

Sylvia Adler

Position: Liaison

Organization: OC Hospice


Sylvia works tirelessly to make sure everyone, first know what hospice IS and then making sure they know what a difference a family-owned company can make.

She is always happy to bring a new client on board, because she knows that this person's quality of life will be much improved. She lives to help people and make sure their end of life is peaceful. I am blessed to know and work with Sylvia.

She is also out in the community teaching, speaking and helping those in need. She gives up he ...

Wendy Lay

Position:General Manager

Organization: 24Hr HomeCare


Wendy is a true leader, advocating the right to quality in-home care for all seniors in Orange County. In a region that can offer many distractions away from the senior population, Wendy has remained steadfast and focused as a champion for the needs of seniors in the community. Wendy has helped cultivate programs within 24Hr HomeCare for low-income seniors working with community-based organizations to ensure that the most vulnerable seniors have a right to quality care. The impact of Wendy� ...

Heather Yost

Position: Regional Senior Living Consultant

Organization: A Right Place For Seniors


Heather is dedicated to working with Seniors, she says it is her passion. She loves where she is right now, she is able to assist in all aspects of an individuals life so they may experience their highest quality of life. With her training as a CSA, she is prepared to serve the most fragile of our society. Heather said that her goal is to always do the right thing for the individual to ensure they are safe, well cared for, and living in an environment that fosters the human spirit. When she was running a national home care company, there are many times she felt the need to step in as a caregiver. Heather always wanted to be a part of her clients lives and never lost focus on her clients needs. It was and still is very important to her that our seniors are treated with dignity and respect.
Heather is a positive role model who has great knowledge of the senior care industry. She has compassion and drive to make every day a new and glorious day for her family, co-workers, friends, and most of all her clients.

Linda Armas

Position: President

Organization: Clear Choice Senior Services


Linda will take her time to help veterans, very low income families by helping to find housing. She will go above and beyond for professionals in the industry, she is not afraid to share information that may help someone else in the industry to be of assistance to families. She has a genuine heart for seniors and always does the right thing. She works endless hours helping families, even if they have no money. I am very honored to know her, to have worked with her and I know she is always there ...

Jennifer Funez

Position: Healthcare Outreach Specialist

Organization: Alzheimer's Orange County


There are so many caring individuals in the Senior Care Industry who really care about seniors and there is this young lady. Not many of us go back to our previous place of employment and spent our days off with our past clients. Well, she does. She goes back to Alamitos Belmont Rehab and spends her days off and weekends visiting her seniors, many of whom she's cared/known for close to 8 years.
I interview some of them and they all had amazing things to say about her, but there was one la ...

Darryl Golliday

Position: Chef

Organization: Americana Getaway Senior Day Services


Darryl cooks and serves really great food and for the male members mostly that is the reason to come to a senior day service program! Darryl can also be seen everyday sitting among our members and staff having lunch and with the members delight has joined in on a music or exercise program. Most of our members have cognitive decline and may share a story that they have told before. Darryl always listens like he is hearing this for the first time and with genuine interest! I have attached a pictur ...

Rosemary De Cuir

Position: geriatric care consultant

Organization: Alliance Family Advocates


Rosemary credits her parents for instilling in her the importance of advocacy following the birth of her youngest sibling.

She explains the experience in this way – “I was a typical normal, happy child who enjoyed attention and was, as children are, the center of my universe. Then Laura was born, and at only six years old, I was terribly confused by what was happening – this little person who didn’t look like my “Gerber baby” other sister, a series of hospitalizations, my parents ...

Marty Burbank

Position: Founder

Organization: OC Elder Law


At first glance, Marty Burbank seems to be just like any other elder law attorney. He meets with clients, helps them with their estate planning, and makes sure to fulfill their every need. However, what sets him apart from other attorneys is the extent to which he goes in order to ensure justice for his clients—like the time he heroically intervened for an elderly couple.
One day, he got a call from a CPA who referred him to two clients, who had apparently written a will naming their caregive ...