An adult protective community worker in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' Division of Senior and Disability Services is the State Employee of the Month for August.
Troy Gardner was honored for his accomplishments while working collaboratively with the division's Special Investigations Unit, local law enforcement and numerous community organizations. His efforts resulted in the removal and prosecution of an abusive caretaker from an elderly woman's home.
The woman had become dependent on the stranger she had allowed to move into her home. However, according to a community member's description, the stranger was a "one-woman crime spree" who terrorized the otherwise quiet residential neighborhood with a "multitude of criminal activities" and placed the vulnerable woman in danger.
In two letters to the department, the community member praised Gardner's work, noting the situation had steadily worsened until he was assigned to the case.
"Troy was a resource for the abused elderly woman," the individual wrote. "Troy was an interface for the neighborhood. Troy involved multiple stakeholders in the investigation including the police, city officials and the prosecutor. Troy solved a problem that seemed unsolvable. I believe he saved the life of this elderly woman and he made all of our lives better."
The community member went on to say Gardner and staff from the Special Investigations Unit made "countless visits" to the elderly woman's house, and the letter noted, "Your efforts, which I would describe as Herculean, were successful. What was an awful and dangerous situation has improved dramatically."
Not only had the abusive caretaker taken advantage of the victim's assets and finances, but the perpetrator's actions also had resulted in the pending loss of the elderly woman's home, according to Carrie Clow, the adult protective community supervisor who nominated Gardner.
"Troy provided the elderly woman with counseling on the prosecution process, legal remedies, public benefits, housing, and assisted in meeting her unmet needs," Clow wrote on Gardner's nomination form. "Troy was very involved and worked to assure the elderly woman's needs were met even while the perpetrator was still living in the home."
Upon the arrest and removal of the perpetrator from the home, Gardner monitored the elderly woman's situation, assisted as a liaison with a victim advocate, arranged for a family conference call, helped with obtaining home delivered meals, arranged meetings with an estate management company and the victim's insurance broker, and referred the victim to legal resources, as well as undertaking efforts to relocate the victim to alternate housing.
Clow further observed, "Troy's efforts embody the meaning of being a public servant for the citizens of Missouri. Troy has a focus on communication, flexibility and collaborative efforts amongst his co-workers and community partners which consistently guide Troy in his work."
Gardner, a former police officer who lives in Columbia with his family, has worked in Adult Protective Services at the department for six years and previously served two years in the Children's Division. He has an undergraduate degree with majors in psychology, sociology and anthropology and a master's degree in criminal justice.