Isles of Vero Beach employee receives national award

VERO BEACH — Eric Vorhees is a man on a mission to live life to the fullest. He volunteers several afternoons a week at the Habitat for Humanity store, takes keyboard lessons, plays sports with Special Olympics, and sings in his church choir.

Most important in his life, however, is going to work six days a week at Isles of Vero Beach, an independent and assisted retirement living community where Vorhees has worked since May 1994, thanks to supports provided by Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities.

For more than 20 years, Vorhees has reported to work with a smile on his face, ready to do his physically demanding job keeping the buildings clean for the residents who call Isles of Vero Beach “home.”

Several months ago, Isles’ manager Mark Wells confided to Nancy Heinrich, Vorhees’ job coach and manager of the Supported Employment Program at The Arc of Indian River County, that Vorhees was being nominated for a prestigious national award given quarterly by The Isles’ parent company, Holiday Retirement.

Wells said the management team at Isles of Vero Beach believed that Vorhees’ work ethic and dependability, his respect for his coworkers and his compassion for all the residents measured up to the values established for the national award.

In early November, Wells called The Arc to share the news that Vorhees had been selected as a national “Touch of Excellence” Award winner. Wells also said there was a big surprise in store for Vorhees. On Nov. 10, Wells made the announcement to staff about the national award, giving a clue that an Isles of Vero Beach employee was the recipient when he said the employee’s favorite thing to say to his supervisor is, “Anything for you!”

Everyone present knew that is Vorhees’ favorite thing to say to his supervisor, Loretta Ooley. All eyes turned to Vorhees.

Wells then surprised Vorhees with a brand new suitcase and the announcement that he and a guest of his choice will soon be going on a cruise to the Bahamas, compliments of Holiday Retirement. A man of few words, Vorhees flashed a huge smile to acknowledge the award, knowing how much he is respected by his coworkers and adored by residents.

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