IRC Outstanding Employees – Crystal and Annette (and Blessed)

Amelia MaldonadoBlog, Employees

Inland Regional Center (IRC) is an awesome place to work! If you ask our staff, they will tell you time and time again that “the people” are what make IRC great. Our team is made up of more than 780 dedicated employees working to support people with developmental disabilities in the Inland Empire.

Each month, IRC staff nominate their outstanding colleagues in our Employee Recognition program. In this blog, we are highlighting the contributions of employees Crystal Castorena and Annette Richardson!

Hercules Award Winner – Crystal Castorena    

Crystal Castorena is a Consumer Services Coordinator in our Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF) department. A true go-getter, Crystal is known for an extraordinary work ethic and providing excellent service to her clients. She is not only willing to go the extra mile for her clients, but she also makes time to help IRC staffers throughout the agency!

Crystal’s teammates speak highly of her citing her kind and giving spirit and a willingness to help others as hallmarks of her work. They had these kind words to describe Crystal, “She truly shines in the area of coordinating events, especially the ICF Christmas party. It’s an event the clients of our ICF residences look forward to year after year.”

We asked Crystal a few questions to learn more about her! Here’s what she shared:

What do you like about working at IRC?

I love that it is literally my job to help people every day! Spending time with my consumers is very much my favorite part of the job. Whether I’m following-up on a wheelchair repair, reviewing a change in diagnosis, being their hands so they can play a game of cards with their peers or listening to them belt out Christmas carols while I review their chart, I enjoy it all. This past year, two of my consumers got married! Though there were a lot of steps we had to figure out along the way, it was an honor to be a part of something that meant so much to them.

Tell us about your job and what a typical day might be like. 

There is no such thing as a “typical day” in my unit. You could have your whole day planned out and one phone call with a change of condition or Special Incident Report could re-route the entire day. Things can change and move quickly in the ICF unit. No day is the same and I like that.

Do you think this award reflects your personality and work here at the agency?

I think this award reflects the work of so many colleagues I come into contact with daily. I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most amazing individuals along my journey here. I love to pick all their brains.

What is your life like outside of work?

My favorite way to end the day is running with my dog in the hills at sunset with a good playlist. I love a good board game or family game night! I also like to quiet my brain and relax with jigsaw puzzles and reading.

Tell us a fun fact about you!

 Here are a few fun facts! I am a GIANT nerd! I enjoy learning, especially anything to do with Neurology, which is fascinating to me. I fall in love with pretty much any animal or critter I come across. Also, I’m a passionate Dodger fan— broken remotes and everything!

Positively Contagious Award Winner – Annette Richardson

Anyone who has met Annette can tell you that she is a ball of energy and light! She is a fantastic listener, conversationalist, and always has a smile for her coworkers. Her positivity is epic, and her energy is magnetic!

As IRC’s resident Occupational Therapist, Annette is never short on bright ideas for helping our clients and families. Personally, most IRC staffers would say her best idea was pitching the idea of a therapy dog for IRC! Annette’s beautiful golden retriever Blessed works alongside Annette in clinical assessments and visits. This dynamic duo is an absolute dream team and we are lucky to have them.

Wanting to get to know her (and Blessed) a little better, we asked Annette a few questions. Here is what she shared with us!

What do you like about working at IRC?

The best part of my job is the consumers and their families. I admire their ability to move forward through adversity, their creativity, and their unconditional love of their family members. I learn from them. For the families who may not yet be at that point, I feel much satisfaction in being able to solve a problem for them or make their outlook a little less overwhelming. No two families are the same. I like that challenge.

I also enjoy the people I work with. The people who work at IRC are a variable microcosm of the world in general, which makes the job pretty interesting. Everyone is different, but has the same ultimate goal. I also like that my supervisor trusts me to do my job the way I see fit.

Tell us about your job and what a typical day might be like. 

Part of why I like my job is that I don’t have a typical day. Good days can turn to bad, bad days can turn out good. Some days require the use of people skills, some days require clinical skills, some days require just plain ole perseverance, and some days we get to think outside the box. Some days, Blessed comes in and saves the day. Some days you just have to give up and laugh at yourself! We are always on our toes.

Do you think this award reflects your personality and work here at the agency?

My gift is that I have a lot of endorphins and a lot of endorphin receptors making it easy for me to see the cup half-full. But in reality, as it pertains to this award, I think some people are often just a good reflection of what they see around them. I am surrounded by pretty good people!

What is your life like outside of work?

I know it sounds so trite, but I look forward to being with my family, especially my grandkids. I like watching my grandkids learning new things, becoming proficient at something, and enjoying themselves. The world is an amazing place through their eyes. I love watching my kids being parents. I like the quieter times with my husband. I like hiking in the mountains where I live and working in the yard. I love the beach. I used to read a lot, but now everything seems so busy. Blessed likes doing all the things I like to do – Canine Support Teams made sure of that.

Tell us a fun fact about you!

I am one of seven daughters in a loud Italian family. I have no brothers. I do not know what my parents were thinking, but we are named as follows: Annette, Jeanette, Bernadette, Paulette, Claudette, Yvette, and Lynnette. I remember my Dad teasing my Mom that they should’ve named my fourth sister Stop-ette. As you can see, that didn’t go over so well!

Congrats Crystal and Annette! Thank you for helping make IRC a great place to work!

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Amelia Maldonado

Amelia is IRC's Community Relations Specialist and an expert on all things IRC. You will frequently find her typing away on her laptop, creating social media/web content, agency publications, and more. Outside of work her passions include smooshy face dogs, fitness, and roller derby!

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