On Jan. 22, the Arizona Association of Activity Professionals bestowed its very first Activities Professional of the Year Award on Michelle Parker, activity director at Life Care Center of Sierra Vista.


The honor was presented at the organization’s annual awards luncheon in Phoenix.


“I was shocked when they announced the award, but it felt nice to be recognized by my peers,” said Parker. “It was nice to have my executive director there as well and have him present it to me along with the AAAP president – he didn’t know about the award until about 10 minutes prior and just happened to be attending the conference to learn about activities.”


Her executive director, Joe Renn, praised Parker for her organizational skills and dependability.


“She takes her position in this facility very seriously,” said Renn. “There is no need to supervise her. She is motivated, has great communication skills, is creative and, most importantly, is compassionate with her associates, peers, residents and family members.”


Parker started at Life Care Center of Sierra Vista in April 1999 as a laundry aide. Since then, she has fulfilled various roles throughout the facility. She has been the activity director for more than five years and has improved the quality of activities offered at the facility.


“When I met Michelle, she came across as professional and willing to do what is right for her residents,” said Lorna Mattox, president of the AAAP and the activity director at Life Care Center of Paradise Valley in Phoenix. “She has a servant’s heart and was eager to learn ways to improve her program to better serve her residents.”


For Parker, the key to getting residents active in facility life is to approach them as individuals with respect and dignity. Even just greeting each one makes an impact.


“The best part of my job is knowing that I made a difference in the lives of my residents and that my staff and I bring them joy on a day-to-day basis,” said Parker. “Sometimes with all the hustle and bustle of planning an event, it can become a little stressful, but at the end of it, when you have residents tell you that this was the best day they’ve ever had, it makes it all worthwhile.”


Parker also won the Activities Professional of the Year Award from the Arizona Health Care Association in 2012.