Steamboat Horizons counselor finalist for Alliance Colorado award
February 25, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Horizons Specialized Services counselor Tommy Larson is quick to deflect any special recognition he gets for his work enriching the lives of developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals, claiming dedication is just part of his line of work.
"I work with really caring and committed co-workers — there are so many great people," said Larson, who has been with the organization for eight years and is currently a supported living services counselor and volunteer coordinator.
Larson was recognized last week at an event at the Colorado state capital as one of five finalists for Alliance Colorado's Direct Support Professional of the Year award.
The event took place Feb. 18 — Colorado's Awareness Day for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities — a day of recognition proclaimed annually by the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives.
Representatives from Horizons attending the event were welcomed onto the House floor by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, and a Steamboat resident who receives Horizons services, Matt Troeger, was invited to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Larson was a finalist along with Moffat County Horizons team coordinator Sylvia McFeaters, who has worked with the organization for 17 years.
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"It's humbling," Larson said Wednesday. "But anyone could have been nominated."
It's easy to see why Larson’s warm, friendly personality is a good fit for Horizons, which provides a variety of services to individuals with developmental, intellectual and cognitive disabilities.
"I try to make one person feel special each day," Larson said.
As a counselor, he works directly with five people who receive Horizons services, but Larson also fills a handful of other roles in the organization.
According to his nomination letter, which was a compilation of the thoughts of several of his colleagues, Larson is a good candidate for the award because of his ability to make connections in the community, develop trusting, personal relationships and advocate for others.
"He is a connector," read the nomination. "He perfectly combines his roles — advocating for people and advocating for volunteering. Ultimately, he is making the community better."
The nomination also describes Larson as creative, person-centered, selfless and supportive.
"It's quite a flattering letter," Larson said.
Horizons Director Susan Mizen said she agreed with the sentiments in the nomination.
"He is so creative, and when he's presented with a challenge, he always comes up with lots of possible options," Mizen said.
Mizen said Larson was already good at integrating Horizons programs into the community and was able to reinforce community connections after participating in an eight-month Leadership Steamboat program.
"All of the people that he works with at Horizons benefit from that," Mizen said.