Meet the Team
Jennifer Barrios – Professional Recruiter
As a Professional Recruiter for Team ABC, Jennifer enjoys helping our caregivers by listening to their personal stories and work experience in an effort to accurately match their talents and personalities with the specific needs of the clients we serve. Jennifer’s personal experience caring for her father during his battle with brain cancer provided genuine insight into the aging process and the needs of hospice and end-of-life patients – an education that inspires Jennifer to recruit and hire the most passionate, and knowledgeable, caregivers available in the South Bay and West LA. During her time away from work, Jennifer loves outdoor activities including hikes, the beach, and other adventures. She loves her blue-nose Pitbull named Pirate and her Sulcata Desert Tortoise, which she expects to grow to be as big as a dinosaur.
Carrie Bianco – Owner
I started Always Best Care South Bay in February 2010. I had a dream to positively impact as many older adults as possible and to advocate for their dignity and independence throughout the aging process. My purpose is personal. Witnessing my own mother lose her memory and independence to Alzheimer’s disease broke my heart and changed my perspective of what it means to grow older.
During the last two years of my mom’s life, I experienced a foreign world; a world I was unprepared to understand. Much of what I learned about the disease I did so on my own. I received lists of undesirable care options for my Mom but help from the doctors was hard to come by. I remember how clinical it all was. There was a lack of emotion. My Mom was just another diagnosis. But for me my Mom was the most important person in my world. She died several years ago, and it still feels like yesterday.
Since her death I have been compelled to share my experiences, mistakes, and knowledge with anyone who needs it. Leading Always Best Care has been a way for me to pay-it-forward and honor my Mama.
Now when I look in the mirror, I see the faces of the families we have helped in my own wrinkles. As I face my aging journey, I know Always Best Care South Bay will see me through every mile marker and support me around every corner. And I know this to be true for you too.
This is my legacy:
To remember for those who forgot;
To see, hear, walk for those who cannot;
To be the voice for those who have none;
To visit and listen to stories for those who have no one….
David Hart, Ph.D – Director of Community Health
Dr. David Hart is a clinical mental health counselor with nearly 15 years of experience working with people with dementia and their families. Dr. Hart received his Ph.D. in Counseling from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and was formerly the Director of Education at Alzheimer’s Family Services Center – a state-of-the-art adult day health care center affiliated with Hoag Hospital’s Neurosciences Institute. Currently, Dr. Hart is Director of Community Health at Always Best Care South Bay/West LA and a faculty member in the College of Health and Human Services at California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Hart is the Founding Chair of the South Bay Dementia Education Consortium, a staff writer for the Southern California News Group on topics related to optimal aging, and has presented his published works at national and international conferences.
Melissa Hickman – Staffing Manager
Melissa Hickman joined Team ABC as a Professional Recruiter in September 2018. After six months in this initial role, and having demonstrated excellent leadership and management skills, Melissa was promoted to Staffing Manager in 2019. Melissa came to Always Best Care with 5 years of recruitment, staffing, and office administration experience and over 10 years in sales and customer service.
In her first year with Team ABC, Melissa has learned a great deal about the health care industry, especially the California laws and regulations governing licensed home care organizations and the skills and traits caregivers must require to provide quality care. Melissa describes earning the trust of our clients by properly vetting, matching, and managing caregivers as a singular privilege. Melissa is committed to ensuring that our caregiver team is knowledgeable on issues related to providing custodial care in the home and are able and committed to securing our clients’ safety and maintaining their dignity.
Melissa is proud of her staffing team and the thriving and fun work environment they maintain. She is uplifted to know that her work makes an instrumental difference in the lives of our caregivers, clients, and their families. When she is not at work you can find Melissa at drill team practice or fundraisers. During competition season Melissa is in high school gyms all over Southern California supporting her twin daughters (Kayli 12, Camille 12) while chasing after an energetic toddler (Farrah 19 months). Melissa has become recently engaged and is currently planning her wedding slated for summer 2020.
Teri Lovano – Care Manager
I have been a Care Manager here at Always Best Care South Bay for about 5 years now. I am one of the fortunate people who can say I LOVE WHAT I DO. I honestly enjoy going to work every day and believe that I have the best job on the team. As a Care Manager, I am the bridge between our clients, caregivers, and our amazing staffing office. Once a client agrees to move forward with Team ABC, I answer any outstanding questions, complete a comprehensive assessment that is eventually developed into a plan of care, and then help our staffing team find the perfect caregiver(s) to meet the needs of our clients and their families. I also provide information and referrals on a variety of healthcare concerns to help families find solutions to challenges they may face. Once the caregiver is placed in the home, I continue visit and act as the liaison between the client, family, caregiver and our administrative team.
I have always had a love of the elderly and once finding out I could major in gerontology while attending Kent State in Ohio, I jumped right in. I’m married and have two grown children. My husband and I reside in Redondo Beach. I enjoy running marathons, doing triathlons, being in the ocean swimming, and prone paddling. I believe one should Live While They Are Living – a lesson I’ve learned from working with our precious clients.
Magaly (Maggie) Ortega – Executive Administrator
Magaly, also known as Maggie, has lived in Torrance all her life with her family and two dogs, a Cocker Spaniel mixed female named Gabriela and a Chihuahua mix named Sofia. She has gone to local Torrance schools since preschool and enjoys exploring the South Bay community and being exposed to the culture and uniqueness that the community has to offer.
Maggie has always believed in staying relevant with current events and continuing to learn about the world around her. She has over 5 years of experience working in customer service and believes in treating others the same way she would want to be treated.
She has worked with Always Best Care South Bay since 2018 and finds the experience enlightening and heartwarming all at the same time. As an Executive Administrator her responsibilities are multifaceted and she feels lucky to work in an environment where she can continue to grow mentally. Nothing brings Maggie more joy than knowing that as each day that passes she strives to be a better human being by making a difference no matter how small.
David Sanchez – Care Specialist
David Sanchez came to Always Best Care as a caregiver in 2016, with 9 years of experience providing home care for all levels of support needed, while also attending school. His excellent care, and his eagerness to grow in the field, led to David’s invitation to join the staffing team as a Care Specialist. David’s passion to provide quality care through educating the clients and caregivers alike has made him a positive force on Team ABC. David provides evidence-based training to caregivers on how to improve their bed side manner and care skills. When he is not at work you can find him at a karaoke bar. A fun fact about David: he can read, write, and sing in Arabic, Japanese, and Spanish! If he is not belting out a note he is enjoying video games with his younger brothers before he’s back in the books studying and attending school to become a licensed vocational nurse.
Amanda Shaon, MS – Care Manager
Amanda’s love for older adults began in elementary school. She was the curious neighborhood girl who would check in on her older neighbors. Amanda had a heart and compassion for those who were vulnerable. After spending 10 years as a working professional in the field of adolescent mental health, Amanda made the tough decision to go back to school and pursue her original passion: older adults. She earned her Master’s Degree in Gerontology from Cal State Long Beach. Amanda has worked as a Care Manager with Always Best Care since 2016 and believes that every older adult deserves to age with dignity. She is committed to investing her passion for seniors into her everyday professional practice as she supports ABC clients and their families.
In her free time, you can find Amanda hanging out in hip coffee shops in Long beach, frequenting new restaurants, and spending weekends with family and good friends.
Diana Villapadua – Professional Recruiter
Diana has been with Always Best Care since 2018 and has enjoyed every single day working in her role as a Professional Recruiter. As someone with over 10 years of experience working with staffing companies, she believes the knowledge gained from Always Best Care has pushed her career to new heights. As part of Team ABC, Diana is learning about the different environments that relate to the medical field.
Diana has had the pleasure of meeting qualified caregivers and assisting them to find the right fit, not only for them, but also for our clients. Diana actively works towards interviewing prospective caregivers making sure they comply with state licensing requirements. Finding outstanding caregivers can be difficult but she loves listening to caregivers and their heartfelt stories about past patients. In addition to helping her staff grow, she has thoroughly enjoyed building connections with local nursing schools and attending job fairs.
Diana Lives in Los Angeles and is happily married to her husband Israel for 9 years. They have 4 beautiful children, Adrian 10, Francisco 8, Valentina 3 ½, and Moises that will be born in November 2019. Before she was pregnant, Diana enjoyed playing soccer during the weekend as a goalkeeper. She played with four teams in the morning and the afternoon. Her passion and integrity is a part of her personality and she uses that same drive to motivate her team at ABC – now and in the years to come.
Mark Wecker – Director of Community Relations
My name is Mark Wecker, and I am the Director of Community Relations. I have enjoyed six wonderful years on Team ABC, educating our community partners about our services and coordinating care for older adults. This role is a calling for me because of the lessons I learned as a caregiver for my late mother who lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 20 years. Those lessons are now paid forward to the many families I serve today. It is a privilege when I receive a call from a family whose loved one is about to be discharged from the hospital or whose loved one is no longer safe at home alone as a result of chronic illness or dementia. I meet with families, listen carefully to their concerns, and together choose a solution that makes the most sense for their loved one and their budget. It is a great feeling to be able to offer a range of options for older adults and their family members, including non-medical in-home care, assisted living referrals, and professional care management – as well as our FREE Caregiving Essentials dementia workshops and peer support groups for family caregivers. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my wife, traveling, singing, hiking in mountains around L.A., and learning Torah with my community.