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Darlene Stephens receives Tom Thornblade Award

Each day, when Darlene Stephens comes into work at Cloud Nine, she does so with the biggest smile — and it’s a smile that makes an impact on her co-workers.

“She is always happy to be here,” said co-worker Odessa Pham. “The residents love her and so does the staff. Whenever I’m having a tough day, she knows how to cheer me up — she is just a good person all around.”

In October, Darlene’s contributions were honored with the Tom Thornblade Award, presented to her at an all-staff meeting. The award is given seven times per year to deserving employees in honor of longtime staff member, Tom Thornblade. To be selected, employees must be a positive influence on their coworkers by example, give of themselves consistently, treat those supported by the Village with respect, among other qualities.

Darlene embodies each quality, according to her coworkers.

“She promotes independence but always ensures safety first,” said coworker Michelle Lincicum. “She is dependable and trustworthy. … Everyone enjoys working with her because she goes above and beyond and always has a positive attitude.”

Darlene has worked at the Village for 18 years. For many of those years, she worked in Morning Sun, up until last year when she transferred to Cloud Nine.

Darlene’s favorite part of her job is the clients.

“Hands down,” she said, her voice filled with emotion. “They’re like a family to me. You get attached to them. They come and they go, but I just enjoy their company so much.”

And at 71 years old, Darlene has no plans to leave the Village any time soon.

“As long as I’m healthy, I will be here,” she said. “I will work as long as I can.”