Paper art of thank you calligraphy hand lettering hanging with colorful balloon, vector art and origami.

The pandemic has postponed and canceled a lot of events in 2020, but it didn't stop one cleaning contractor from celebrating its staff. On Sept. 9, outside in the parking lot and following all of the public health order guidelines, the Los Angeles Habilitation House (LAHH) staff gathered to celebrate and say ‘thank you’ to all of the cleaning workers who have been working throughout the pandemic to keep people safe through disinfecting and killing germs in the office, conference rooms, restrooms and common areas.

Guido Piccarolo, CEO of LAHH, and Judy Wada, chief financial officer of Harbor Regional, welcomed everyone, including many Harbor Regional employees.

"We want to celebrate the hard work and commitment of our cleaning workers," said Piccarolo, underscoring why everyone was getting together. "You are essential, your life is essential and your contribution is essential. You are making a difference in our life and that life of many people. During this time you did not stop to take care and continue to protect the health of everyone here in these buildings. You kept coming into work. You stepped in with courage, attention and total dedication. Thank you is a phrase so beautiful and meaningful but we often don’t think about its true meaning. The world “thank” comes from Latin gratia, which is grace or blessing. You are this blessing.”

Since 2001, the Simon Institute has been honoring cleaning workers with the Outstanding Cleaning Worker Award during a banquet award dinner. LAHH honored their first outstanding cleaning worker in 2012, Bryan Cosajay, at the Simon Institute Symposium in New Orleans. Each year as the award banquet got under way, John Walker would remind everyone that roughly 2.5 million cleaning workers who were going to work and performing simple tasks that make a difference in the lives of so many people the next morning. The Simon Institute has recognized from the beginning the importance of each person in the cleaning industry and included in their Philosophy of Cleaning, “Treat cleaning workers as first class citizens.” This recognition is something that Piccarolo and Nancy Albin, vice president, identified with when starting LAHH. 

"During the pandemic, we have seen so many cleaning workers continuing to work and change the way they clean in order to meet both Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, as well as those outlined by public health officials, all to keep people safe," says Albin. "The pandemic has canceled the Simon Institute Symposium this year, but we could not pass up the opportunity to say “thank you” and “we love you” to our employees with disabilities who are outstanding cleaning workers."