Carson's Darlene Ricco named Support Professional of the Year

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People take for granted their abilities to do ordinary chores like shopping or going to the bank.

But what if, due to some physical or mental disability, you had difficulty accomplishing these tasks?

Darlene Ricco's job is to make sure people in Carson City who need support to live a healthy life in this community are able to get that help.

"It's basically something to enable them to reach their full potential, and to be able to live in the community independently when possible," she said. "Overall, it's about the person, it's about the individual. Each person is different and has different needs, and has a different background."

Ricco works for Dungarvin, a private company that has a contract with the state to help disabled persons to live independent lives.

She looks after 11 clients in Carson City, handling tasks that include monitoring medications, helping them budget their money, and teaching them to read food labels and plan menus for a healthy diet.

Ricco's work has been recognized by the American Network of Community Options and Resources, which recently named her the 2009 National Direct Support Professional of the Year.

"It's important to recognize the work done by Ms. Ricco and her colleagues across the country," said ANCOR President Peter Kowalski in a statement announcing the award. "Ms. Ricco represents the best of the best among (direct support professionals). Her compassion and devotion allow the people served to live more inclusive, independent and self-determined lives in the community."

"I'm stunned and surprised," Ricco said about the award. "I never dreamed in my wildest dreams this would happen. I'm humbled and grateful. It's a lot of years of hard work."

Ricco thanked the team she works with at Dungarvin, and the people she helps.

"I enjoy what I do," Ricco said. "I left for a while and came back because I really missed it. The individuals are fun. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes there's disappointments. We have good days and bad days just like everybody does. So when things go well, it's fun."

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