2021 Team Member of the Year - Alan Garrone, Pensacola, Florida

Alan started working at GCE 11 years ago. His mom used to work at Navy Federal, and when he was at her office, he noticed a bus that dropped off young people his age to work. He asked who they were and learned it was a group of Project Search students. His mom inquired, and soon Alan was one of the students. When he graduated, he transitioned into a janitorial role with GCE working at Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. Alan was responsible for trash removal in a 255,000-square-feet building.

“I worked at the hospital for about 7 years, but I was interested in changing jobs so I could learn something new,” Alan said. “I like working outside.”

About three years ago, a grounds maintenance position came open on the Lakeview Center campus, and Alan spoke with Bryan Camacho about it. “He didn’t have commercial landscape experience, but I could see his desire to learn,” said Bryan. “I also learned that he had experience in lawn care. He cuts grass on weekends to make extra money to help support him and his mom who is a breast cancer survivor.”

Alan fits right in doing landscaping, edging, weeding, moving furniture, and always jumping in to help with anything else a team member needs. He works on equipment and drives a van that pulls a 25-foot trailer. He is now learning how to trim trees and has applied for the next position up of groundskeeper.

His job gives him purpose in life – a regular schedule and a great job to report to. His best friend at work is his boss, Bryan. “We work like a team. Bryan is a good boss, and he looks for opportunities to teach me new things.”

In his off time, Alan volunteers with the fire department, a passion he’s been actively involved in since he was 14 years old. “I go on all kinds of calls like fires, medical calls, car wrecks, and clean up help after hurricanes. I’m trying to get certified to fight fires.”

Each day Alan takes the initiative to do more at work and on his own time. For instance, he is an avid surfer. If the 2021 Special Olympics aren’t canceled due to COVID, he plans to compete in the surfing competition. He also coaches a couple of times a month with surfing athletes who have Autism. He’s been involved with the Special Olympics most of his life competing in soccer, paddle-boarding, bowling, and surfing. He’s a savvy fundraiser too.

“Alan sat in ‘jail’ waiting to get bailed out at the Publix fundraiser for Special Olympics. He told me he could only report to work if I donated!” It worked. Bryan gladly anted up for the cause.

The good news in Alan’s life is that his mom is doing better. “When I’ve needed to miss work to take care of my mom, Bryan has always understood. I still take her to doctors to make sure she’s OK. I’m her caretaker. I’m an only child.”

To say Alan has a big heart would be an understatement. He innately lives our Mission 24/7.

“I can’t say enough good things about Alan. He doesn’t complain. He does a good job. He gives 100%. I admire the other things he does as well,” Bryan said. “He made it easy to nominate him as Employee of the Year, and I’m honored to work with him.”

Whether Alan is working to make extra money to help pay bills at home, coaching a young surfer for the Special Olympics or going behind a team member to help with a project at-hand, he is always helping in some way.

“I like my job. What I like the most is getting to know people and working like a team.”