Camille Adams isn’t one to search for the spotlight or raise her voice to brag on some achievement. She works to care for the people who need her and do it well.

That work ethic and the positive attitude she brings every day to Cedar Heights apartments in Cedartown has not gone unnoticed by those who work with her and now, by way of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, the whole state is taking notice.

Adams was surprised with an in-person celebration and recognition from the RCI on Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the apartment building to announce her as the 2020 Georgia Paraprofessional Caregiver of the Year.

Cedar Heights Service Coordinator Donna Wilson worked to keep the award a secret leading up to the drive-by celebration.

“She said that they were gonna come and take some pictures and this was just an interview,

Adams said. “Never in a million years did you realize that that actually won this award.”

Staff from the Carter Institute as well as the Northwest Georgia Area Agency on Aging and All Ways Caring of Rome, where Adams works as a service coordinator, were part of the celebration outside the apartment building’s main entrance.

Adams received a gift basket, a framed certificate, a gilded rose and a check for $1,000. Several of the residents of Cedar Heights, as well as staff, were on hand to celebrate the moment.

Adams has been a paraprofessional caregiver for 15 years, with most of that time at Cedar Heights. She was clearly emotional when receiving the recognition and said she was honored to be chosen to not only represent herself but those she works with and cares for every day.

“These are all very special people. … They’re like my family. They really are. I can’t explain it. I don’t have any family that lives in Polk County except for my husband, and these people are like my family. They love me,” Adams said.

Dr. Jennifer Olsen, executive director of RCI, commented on the tremendous support shown to Adams by the people of Cedar Heights.

“I think it’s amazing to see that she not only touches the person she cares for, her care recipient, but the whole community she touches, because caregivers have a huge heart. And I think today celebrates that,” Olsen said.

Adams was nominated for the honor by Wilson and Dennis McCrary, the maintenance supervisor for Cedar Heights.

According to the Carter Institute, her colleagues say she is loved by all, consistently goes above and beyond her duties, and always displays patience and compassion with her clients.

“She has been a loyal and trustworthy caregiver for many of our residents over the years. She is dependable and caring. She always has a smile and a good word for everyone she meets,” McCrary wrote of Adams in his nomination.

The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Seniorlink also announced the other winners of the 2020 Georgia Caregiver of the Year Awards last week. Alesia Simon of Bowdon is the Family Caregiver of the Year and Javoski Harden of Macon is the Volunteer Caregiver of the Year.

This annual recognition comes during November’s National Family Caregiver Month, a nationwide celebration of the men and women who support individuals in need of care.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced what our founder, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, has long known to be true, and what our team sees when working with some of America’s 53 million caregivers: caregivers are the invisible frontline of our health care system, and they deserve our recognition and support,” Olsen said.

“The Georgia Caregivers of the Year, and all of this year’s nominees, exemplify the strength, resilience, and compassion of caregivers everywhere. It’s our honor to celebrate their amazing contributions to our communities.”

Seniorlink, which is a tech-enabled health services company focused on keeping care in the home where family caregivers play a pivotal role, generously serves as this year’s sponsor for the Georgia Caregiver of the Year Awards.

“The team at Seniorlink sends our warmest thanks and congratulations to Javoski, Alesia, and Camille, and to all of the caregivers across Georgia and beyond who selflessly provide care to people in need. Seniorlink is committed to celebrating and supporting caregivers nationwide, and it was our distinct honor to sponsor the Georgia Caregiver of the Year Awards as a sign of that commitment,” said Shikira Wallace, Georgia’s Manager of Program Development, Seniorlink.

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