Hope Services’ Half Moon Bay Diversified Network (HPDN) is a beacon of support for individuals with developmental disabilities across the Bay Area coast and peninsula. With an unwavering commitment to providing excellent, person-centered care, the dedicated staff of HPDN strive to create enriching experiences for their 1:1 and group participants. 

One exceptional staff member, John Gunther, Community Support Facilitator (CSF), is a daily inspiration to his friends and colleagues, with a knack for looking on the brighter side of life, spotting meaning in the mundane, and curiously seeking the greatest available opportunities for his 1:1 participants who need a little extra support.

May 15th was no exception — and John’s commitment to person-centered support for his participant, Alex, yielded a particularly special reward that day. It all began that morning, when John shifted the day’s plans in order to provide an optimal experience for Alex.

Rather than spending the cold and overcast day on the coast, close to homebase, John sought an alternative location for the day’s activities, although it would lead them further away with short notice. They decided instead to venture to Huddart Park, known to be warm and sunny, nestled in a valley on the peninsula. 

John even invited his colleague Sandra Miranda Hernandez, CSF, whose 1:1 participant was desiring an outdoor adventure over a library visit, and newly-hired CSF, Aaron Douglas, whom John believed would enjoy training at Huddart Park with his 1:1 participant, Nathan, who thrives in a soft, grassy environment.

For John, it was all about making the most of the day, considering the needs of his team and participants, and not settling for less. As a result, they were able to witness a joint agency rescue training between the Menlo Park Fire Department and a California Highway Patrol helicopter after arriving at the park. The participants and staff were granted a thrilling close encounter and the chance for an unforgettable photo opportunity.

John’s initiative to adapt the day’s plan not only allowed for a valuable experience, but it exemplified Hope Services’ commitment to person-centered care. 

John’s supervisor and HPDN Program Coordinator, Cynthia Hovorka, recognizes the immense trust that families, participants, and vendor partners place in Hope’s direct-care staff, particularly when it comes to one-on-one clients with greater needs. The responsibility of caring for a loved one can be significant, but the support provided by Hope’s team alleviates these concerns.

“John’s ability to seize the day without adding stress for himself or the individuals he serves is a testament to his skill and dedication,” Cynthia shared. “Both John and Sandra have been instrumental in sharing their wealth of knowledge and expertise with newer team members, creating an environment of mentorship and camaraderie.” 

By offering shadowing opportunities, imparting wisdom, and nurturing the growth of their HPDN community, John and Sandra exemplify the spirit of collaboration and teamwork that defines Hope Services, while fostering relationships with families and clients that are built on trust, respect, and the shared goal of enhancing the lives of individuals with unique needs.

California Highway Patrol helicopter
John Gunther, HPDN CSF

Unexpected Adventure | By John Gunther

Half Moon Bay Peninsula Diversified Network’s office may be located in Half Moon Bay, but our community does include the Peninsula. Hiking along the ocean is often spectacular, but on Thursday, May 11th was overcast and chilly. This is the beauty of HPDN—A few weeks before we had hiked at Huddart Park in Woodside, a place well known to be warm and sunny.  Our new staff Aaron Douglas was going to be shadowing Sandra Miranda to shadow her with a one on one participant.  My experience at Huddart would be ideal for Sandra and her 1:1 client to get to know Aaron so I invited them to meet up with me and my 1:1 client. 

Huddart was welcoming and as we made our way to the grass we heard a helicopter overhead. To our surprise and delight we stumbled upon a joint agency rescue training between the Menlo Park fire department and the California Highway Patrol helicopter. We were amazed to see the helicopter coming over the trees heading to our grassy field with a stretcher hanging down with a firefighter strapped in it. And the CHP officer hanging outside the hatch-door so he could release the stretcher once it was lowered to the ground. Firefighters on the ground received the stretcher and the cable was released and the helicopter flew away. The man on the stretcher was released and then the helicopter came back to land on the grass.

Once the crew landed and it was safe, the rescue crew invited us over to look up close. 

Aaron got some experience with our participant on the grass and then we had lunch. While we were having lunch they finished their training and we got to see it take off. They were very kind and friendly and they let us take pictures. It was a blast!