The people we serve are at the heart of all we do and everything we imagine at Eastway.
Eastway employee since 2005
As a Residential Specialist at The Heights, Lolita Crutcher is the first to tell you she’s a Jane of all trades. But her favorite role is cook extraordinaire. “There is nothing I cannot cook,” Lolita says.
Her culinary skills are well known throughout Eastway. “They say, when it comes to meals, this is the group home to come to.”
Her specialties include fried chicken, chili and chicken and noodles. On Labor Day, Lolita barbecues from morning to night. Everything on the Thanksgiving and holiday menus, from the dressing to the dinner rolls, is made from scratch. “I love to cook, and I bake a lot for our clients, too. We hardly ever eat anything processed.”
But it isn’t just the cooking Lolita loves. It’s working at Eastway—“The staff is almost like family,” she says—advocating for her clients and finding ways to help them succeed.
VP, Chief Operating Officer
Director of Operations
Eastway employee since 1999
Cybil Saum-Johnson is a fixture at Eastway. She truly knows the organization inside and out. “When we need to get something done, and get it done quickly and correctly right from the start, we know we can count on Cybil,” explained Eastway CEO John Strahm.
Cybil started at Eastway in 1999 as a case manager in Adult Services. In that role she worked hand in hand with clients, meeting their needs and developing unique treatment plans to help them move forward. That job provided a first hand look at just how impactful Eastway’s continuum of care could be and the pivotal role Cybil wanted to have within the organization.
As Eastway’s Director of Operations, Cybil knows the progress that’s been made over the years, both with clients and staff and the company as a whole. She understands that growth and transformation like this can only happen when you’ve got the best people possible giving their all. It’s an example Cybil believes must start at the top. It’s why she looks forward to each and every day at Eastway.
Eastway employee since 2008
At The Heights, a home for adults, residents have a special name for Program Leader Wayne Jenkins. “They called me Uncle-Daddy. I thought it was hilarious, but kind of liked it. I’m sort of like a father or uncle figure.”
With his open-door policy, residents come to Wayne to share what’s on their mind. The staff is focused on ensuring its residents get through each day smoothly and successfully, not a simple task with 12 residents each with a different diagnosis.
The job calls for a lot of flexibility. Before joining the team at The Heights, Wayne was a case manager for Eastway. Nine years later, he’s still pleased to be making a difference with the organization.
“No doubt, my job is rewarding—I go home every day with a smile. When you work with this population, it’s often hard to tell what impact you are having. But I know we are having one.”
Northcutt Residential Treatment Center
Eastway employee since 2011
For Carmella Mitchell, nothing beats Eastway’s support system. “At Eastway, they support their employees as much as possible, while making it a fun working environment. I love my boss. I love my colleagues. And we all love the kids.”
Carmella, a nurse, spends her days collaborating with the staff and therapists and playing games (basketball is a favorite) with the boys, as young as six and as old as 14. Not only does she work diligently to ensure the boys in her care—typically in treatment for six to 12 months—thrive, but she focuses on ensuring they don’t lapse once their time at Northcutt is complete.
“The most rewarding thing for me is to see them make progress, whether it’s in their education, in learning to trust or to open up and communicate better,” Carmella says. “Just seeing them make progress is such a gift.” Overall, she hopes she and the staff are able to provide a safe space for the kids in their care to feel loved.
Overall, she hopes she and the staff are able to provide a safe space for the kids in their care to feel loved.
“I want them to feel wanted. We want them to have some sense of relaxation, of a positive emotional state. We get so many kids that have experienced serious neglect and abuse, and they have a hard time trusting. If they can learn to trust us, we can do work. To get them to feel safe and step outside their comfort zone is the goal.”
Program Leader, Marshall House
Eastway employee since 2005
“I remember my first supervisor telling me sometimes you don’t pick your job. God picks you to do a job.”
Regina Ransom didn’t see herself working with the mentally ill. But you might say she’s found her calling as a Program Leader at Marshall House, an Eastway group home for the mentally ill. Regina works with her residents to teach them the skills they need to move into independent living. And while the goal is ultimately to move out, for Regina it can be bittersweet.
“I remember the first person who initially went into independent living. I was new and had only been here two or three years. I was attached. The first time it was sad for me but over the years it became exciting. They come back and let us know how they are doing.”
Preparing healthy meals, cooking, cleaning and taking medications on schedule are all areas Regina and staff focus on with residents. Witnessing personal progress first-hand is gratifying. “It’s rewarding to see them start out here, get their health on the right track and then move on. That’s our purpose.”