DOWNEY – It was just over two years ago that 33-year-old Carlos Baca was being praised and awarded for his outstanding character and honesty when he found and turned in a hundred dollar bill on Warren High School’s campus.
Now, Baca finds himself once again in the same spotlight.
Baca is currently contracted to work as a janitor at Warren through the Arc’s employment program for individuals with developmental disabilities. The high school has four individuals working on campus through this resource.
This is the second time that Baca has been rewarded for his excellent moral fiber when coming across a large amount of money while performing his duties on campus. He found the hundred dollar bill in January, sometime around the time when the Bear’s returned from their holiday break.
According to Warren Assistant Principal Jeff Giles, it is not often that money is turned in. More often than not, cell phones and IPods that may have slipped out of a student’s pocket are brought up to the office. Principal Laura Rivas added that when money is turned in, it’s usually in smaller amounts.
“I’ve had it before,” said Giles. “…I think our students display really good character as well, and that’s something that we really stress here at the school and the school district. But I would say that it is pretty rare; maybe a couple of times a year at the most.”
Rivas also praised the Character Counts Program, which is heavily pushed by Downey Unified School District, and implied that its success is not only reflected in the students, but the employees as well.
“With Carlos, I talk to Carlos every day,” said Rivas. “…He’s just somebody we see every day. He’s out there, and he comes in almost every day…He is one of those visible forces on campus. The kids recognize him, the staff recognize him, we recognize him…he’s become a bear. He comes and participates, and it feels like he’s a part of our school and part of our community.”
Baca also commented that he likes being at Warren, where he’s been for at least six years.
After being held and unclaimed for around four months, as per Warren’s policy, the money was handed over to Baca Wednesday morning.
Ray Brown, Chief Financial Officer for The Arc Los Angeles and Orange Counties, was present when Baca received the money.
Brown praised Baca’s actions and his representation of the Arc.
“For instances like this to happen, it’s a good reflection not only on Carlos but on the Arc as well,” said Brown.
When asked what he would do with the money, much like last time, Baca thought for a moment and said he would likely save it. However, the smile on Baca’s face could not be ignored at the idea of possibly attending a Dodger game, or buying a hamburger.