2019 SCHA Awards
Outstanding Social Worker

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Marlene Arellano Marlene Arellano

Marlene Arellano

Position: HDM Case Manager

Organization: Orange Senior Center


List your nominee's experience in Senior Care.
Marlene has worked for the Orange Senior Center for a little over 2 years. She interned for them while completing her Bachelor's degree at Cal State Fullerton in 2015, and was so loved that when an opening came up, her previous supervisor immediately called her and asked her to apply.

Describe how your Nominee has exceeded his or her Job Description, becoming a hero to you or others. Provide an example or as much detail as possible of the things that they do that go above and beyond their job description.
There are many people that have nice things to say about Marlene, but when Julie called in - a client of Marlene's - and feels so strongly about their case manager, we think that’s the best indication of a true “hero.” Julie wanted us to know that Marlene is kind, caring, a good listener and just smiles all the time. She never makes Julie feel like she’s in a hurry or doesn’t have time to really understand what Julie needs or is going through.

Julie has had a difficult life filled with physical and emotional hardship. She went through a period of life where she didn’t get to see her young son, and was close to being homeless. These days, she barely has any contact with family members and it makes it hard to feel like anyone cares.
She didn’t have an education past high school and could only find jobs that required a lot of physical labor – mostly housekeeping and janitorial. And because of the demands of her jobs, she ended up severely injuring her back. She had a few operations, but was unable to stay at home to fully heal because she needed money to live. So Julie always went back to work too soon and continued to make matters worse, until she now can hardly stand or walk for more than an hour to an hour and a half at a time. She said her average pain “is at a 6 or 7 every day,” and many times goes above a 10.

This is where Marlene comes into the picture. When Julie was referred to the Orange Senior Center for meals, Marlene went out to interview Julie. Keeping with the attitude that it’s about more than providing meals, she discovered that, even in the small apartment Julie had, it was extremely difficult for Julie to keep things clean and organized due to her pain. For someone who used to clean for a living, this was especially upsetting. So Marlene immediately arranged for Julie to have a caregiver a couple hours every other week or so. This allowed Julie to get assistance with bathing and to keep her house clean and comfortable.

On the days when Julie felt good enough to talk a short walk to just get out of the house, she would try to go to the $.99 Store for small items. But there were days when she couldn’t even walk a couple blocks, or needed to go to a doctor’s appointment, and she couldn’t get reliable transportation. One mention to Marlene, and Julie was enrolled in the transportation waiver program, providing Julie with the freedom she felt she was slowly losing. She told us, “until I had those waivers, there were days when I felt like a prisoner. Marlene’s efforts were appreciated more than I could possibly say.” Julie said, “Marlene even delivered meals to me herself if they were shorthanded, always making sure she had my route so she could sit and talk to me for a while, and never checking her watch.”

Thanks you, Marlene, for caring more about your clients than about your time card. You are a true blessing.