Moffat County Horizons’ Michael Toothaker retiring after lengthy service to organization
Beginning his prolific career in serving people with physical, developmental, and mental health challenges in 1975, Michael Toothaker, the Moffat County adult community coordinator at Horizons, is retiring on Friday, Aug. 30.
Horizons Specialized Services is a federally and state-funded community center board that serves five northwest counties: Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt.
“I’ve been allowed to contribute to people’s lives being better and making a difference,” Toothaker said.
Born and raised in Denver, Toothaker was working for a roofing business in the 1970s when one day, he was talking to his friend about wanting to get away from the business.
“I was working on his roof down in Denver; I was complaining about roofing, and he said ‘you know what, you should come and work for me.’ That was 1975,” he said.
That is when Toothaker officially began his career in public service at Suburban Services, a community center board that offers similar services as Horizons to people with physical and developmental challenges.
After five years with Suburban Services, Toothaker was looking to get out of the Denver area when his friend, Roger Reynolds, who had moved to Steamboat Springs to work for Horizons, offered Toothaker a job in 1980.
Upon Toothaker’s hiring at Horizons, Toothaker opened up two group homes in Steamboat in 1980 and 1981, and opened up the first group home in Craig in 1982. Since then, two other group homes have been established in Craig.
However, Toothaker departed from Horizons in 1987 to finish his master’s degree in psychology and become a therapist who specializes in substance abuse. He worked in community mental health until 2003, upon which, he was offered a job back at Horizons as the Moffat County adult community coordinator.
“My responsibilities are to make sure we do what we’re mandated to do — to serve our clients the best we can and to provide the highest level of independence as possible for these individuals,” he said.
Currently living with his wife of 11 years in Steamboat and with retirement just around the corner, Toothaker said he plans to do substance abuse counseling part-time in retirement, but he is looking forward to spending time with his kids and grandchildren, as well as snowboarding, biking, backpacking, and pretty much anything he can do outdoors.
“The first thing I’ve got planned during retirement is going backpacking in middle of the week,” Toothaker said enthusiastically. “Usually we have to go on a Friday.”
Toothaker’s retirement party takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 at The Barrel Cathedral with a complimentary buffet from Fais Do-Do.
Friends, family, and colleagues are all encouraged to come and wish Toothaker off to a happy retirement.
Jesica McMillan, who is currently the office coordinator at Horizons, will be stepping in to fulfill Toothaker’s role after he retires.
“I’m just lucky enough to have learned from him,” McMillan said. “He’s taught me what a boss is and how to be a good one.”
McMillan started working for Horizons in October 2008, but eventually took a brief hiatus to begin a family. She came back in 2016 to work as a case manager, and is now getting ready to begin her new position.
“I’m excited to see how far we can take Horizons,” she said.
“It’s been an honor to serve this community,” said Toothaker.