On an annual basis Hillsides employees come together for a day of fun, good food, and games to celebrate what we hold in common as members of this extraordinary organization committed to creating lasting change for who we serve. It is not just an opportunity to recognize the qualities of the organization that set us apart from similar agencies–exceptional service, innovation, and advocacy–but to feature employees who exemplify these traits.
Recently in a conversation with a neighbor, she mentioned how she admired the challenging nature of the services we provide to the children in our Residential Treatment Services program. Indeed, the challenges the children we serve on campus have grown more acute over the years. After years of providing direct care, some of our longtime employees have moved on to supervisory and management roles in the organization, yielding their place in direct care to younger staff with the stamina required for these often intense services. So it is rare to celebrate an employee who not only has served at Hillsides for many years, but has done so as a child care counselor.
Of the many employees we recognized at our annual staff appreciation celebration, one stands out for her years of service but also for her effectiveness as a child care counselor. Renee Carr has been employed at Hillsides for thirty years and throughout this time has always served as a child care counselor. Like a few others, she can tell of the organization’s evolution as a treatment center and the increasing needs of the children we serve. She comes across as very unassuming yet is respected as one of our most effective employees. She possesses the intuition of a caregiver who is able to understand the complexities of the children she serves and, in a familial way, touch their lives and ease their anxiety.
In thirty years Renee has had a number of directors; I recall one who mentioned to me that he would ask her to address the child in the cottage who was most traumatized because of her ability to be approachable and non-threatening. Far from being easily manipulated, her matter of fact and direct manner has always helped her establish an authentic rapport that the most challenging child always responded to well. When recognizing Renee’s contribution, her current supervisor shared that when former residents return to visit, the staff member they most often ask for is Renee. There is no greater tribute than to have created a lasting impression in the lives she served.
When I run into Renee on the campus these days, I just ask her how many more days until her retirement. With a smile and a chuckle, she lists the days and hours until that long-awaited and well-deserved day in November when she will move on. And even though we will say good bye and assure her of our best wishes on that day, the contribution she has made to those she served will be a lasting legacy to a career of extraordinary services.
Hillsides is so fortunate to have many employees like Renee who not only provide great care but also serve as extraordinary examples of all our staff and what it means to truly make a difference.
Along with Renee we recognize the commitment and dedication of the following longtime employees:
- Carolyn Clegg–35 years
- Anthony Adame–25 years
- Robert Da Silva–25 years
- Kim Weleba–25 years
- Janis Reid–20 years
- Dadee Schlick–20 years