Wood's Homes Blog

The gift of Wood's Homes: Why I'm grateful for my time with this agency

July 05, 2018
By Stephanie Gillis, Former Wood's Homes Employee
The gift of Wood's Homes: Why I'm grateful for my time with this agency

I am writing today to express my deepest gratitude to all those who work so diligently to make Wood’s Homes the prestigious agency that it is.

I was hired to work at the Capitol Hill program in August 2017. As a former teacher, I was skeptical about my career shift, but for various reasons I decided to further expand my knowledge in child development by working with children with exceptional needs. I wanted to use my skills in an alternate environment so I could better prepare myself for my return to the classroom. I also wanted to foster a different perspective for my future.  I have worked with many children with traumatic and turbulent histories, but I found my work with them at Wood’s Homes to be a life-changing experience.

I vividly remember my first shift. The children were suspicious of a new face in their home and they were hesitant.  I quickly learned that these children have complex histories I could never fully understand and, even more quickly, I realized that personal feelings had to be put on the back burner.  By the end of the shift, my supervisor had asked me: “Are you going to come back?” It was a question that stuck with me. Deciding not to return wasn’t even so much as on my radar. To walk into the children’s lives just to walk out again felt selfish.  I was just getting started, and although it was a rocky shift, I knew great things would come from Capitol Hill.

It was undeniable that I was working with a group of dynamic, intelligent, inspiring and motivating people. My co-workers were invaluable with their words of wisdom, guidance, and support. Not only did they welcome me, they remained unwavering in their reliability for the duration of my Wood’s Homes journey.  Each co-worker had a unique skill-set that influenced me to be the best version of myself; all in the interest of our kiddos.

My supervisor, Erin, was a luminary who epitomized ‘leading by example.’ Every day she encompassed Wood’s Homes’ values, always putting the interests of the children at the forefront.  She had a way of making her employees feel like equals, and never asked us to do anything she was not willing to do herself.  She did not hesitate to help when asked, and was always prepared to go to bat for us, for the clients and for her co-workers.

Our program manager, Kirk, would always ask the tough questions. When I felt like dismissing an issue, he would sharpen my perspective and make me dig deeper.  He wouldn’t openly give his opinion or answer the questions, rather, he would ask probing questions that would give me a new viewpoint in order to render the results myself.

Finally, there are the children. The children are the heart of Wood’s Homes and Capitol Hill. I truly believe they taught me as much (if not more) as I taught them. They turned me into a kid again when we’d play in the sandbox, bike to the park, feed the ducks, and improvise games. Through them, I learned to be patient and understanding, and to think alternatively in tough situations. They made me laugh harder than any TV sitcom and they challenged me to be comfortable outside of my comfort zone. Not all days were butterflies and rainbows, but at the end of the day, they are children and like all other children they need love, support, guidance, and a good hug. Their resilience, kindness, and deep-hearted nature is what kept me coming back.  

I’ve never worked for an agency, union or organization that stands true to its motto more than Wood’s Homes: We Never Say No. We Never Give Up. We Never Turn Anyone Away.

When the easy option is to dismiss an issue or a problematic situation, Wood’s Homes rises to the occasion, hurdles over obstacles, and faces adversity head on.  As a frontline worker, I felt valued there. I did not feel as though I played second fiddle to those in management positions because everyone has an equally important role. Wood’s Homes possesses many admirable qualities that I wholeheartedly applaud.

I am heavy hearted leaving the agency. It is an understatement to say I’ll miss Capitol Hill, my co-workers and leaders, and most importantly, the children. I do believe I will carry forward as a better person through Wood’s Homes values, conduct and ideals. My time there was brief, but I gained a wealth of knowledge and had a bewildering experience and for that, from the bottom of my heart, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you. And thank you again.