Jose and Phyllis: Their Amazing Work

Jose and Phyllis are two of the many dedicated employees at STVCC. We are happy to share some of their stories and experiences in this dialogue.

Jose and PhyllisHow many years of service to STVCC? 

Jose Carrera: 9 years, three months, and 7 days. But who is counting?

Phyllis Kitchell: Around 28 or so (better check my files to be absolutely sure).

Jose and Phyllis, what are your current job titles?  

Jose: Director of Clinical Services

Phyllis: Don’t laugh. I am in the same position that I was hired in at.  Over the years the title has not changed, but the positon has. The agency has changed substantially over the past 28 years and I have always been here to serve the CEO in any way that is needed. Currently the title is Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer/CEO Liaison.

Jose and Phyllis: A Jack-of-all-trades and our own Radar O’Reilly

If you could change your job title to be more descriptive of what you do…what would it be?

Jose: In my current position, I’m really a “jack-of-all-trades.”  At times I try to conceptualize new programming and seek new, innovative ways that allow us to provide quality clinical services for our at-risk and in-need consumers.  Other times, I might function more as a mentor, guiding staff members and interns. I believe I’m an advocate for our staff and clients. I try to fight for the best solutions that will improve their lives.  It’s no secret that our Child Welfare, Children’s Home, and Counseling programs keep me on my toes, but I’m trying to guide each program in the right clinical direction to ensure that we’re helping our children and families (biological, extended, foster, & adoptive).

Phyllis: For those of you that remember the TV series M*A*S*H I kind of think of myself as a Radar O’Reilly type. Always trying to anticipate what needs to be done. Having my finger on the pulse of the organization at all times. Also, I sometimes think of myself as the Mother around here. I like making sure everyone is always safe and sound and ensuring people get what they need from me as soon as I can. That way they in turn can do their jobs.  Just like a mother hen I am here to see that they are all right, both physically and emotionally.

What has your service to STVCC meant to you?  Professionally?  Personally?

Jose: My service to STVCC means a great deal to me.  Professionally, I’m extremely proud of our services. Throughout the last two years we have been able to significantly enhance and expand programming.  Our Children’s Home offers a pretty unique program in Michigan. It offers a mixture of strong, well-defined clinical components, as well as a myriad therapeutic activities. These include Trauma Yoga, Art, and Music Therapy.  On the counseling side, implementing Seasons allowed us to offer new services designed to transform and help our clients improve their lives…  Personally, although it may be cliché, I see each client we help as another person whose life we can transform.  It never gets old when you have those emotional experiences with clients and learn how much they appreciate the services they’ve received. I hope to make STVCC a little better than when I first began working there.

Phyllis: Right out of college I found myself at a place where the work wasn’t very rewarding.  There was no helping, there was no service. When I saw the posting for this job, I had a sense that it would be perfect for me.  As soon as I got into the work I knew that in my own way I was helping. I have always known that this is where God wanted me to be.  He placed me here.  I have loved and been honored to work in an atmosphere where God is the center, and that my family is valued and treasured as well.

How have you grown while working at STVCC?

Jose: I learned a combination of patience and perseverance. As I get older, I joke that I am losing my patience as I become increasingly obstinate and stubborn.  But seriously, when it comes to developing a new program or service, it can take a very long time to go from generating the idea to actually implementing the program.  It’s the ability to maintain that belief and conviction that a program can provide a high return for the clients it would serve, while also being financially viable.

Flexibility is another area – when I come to work in the morning, I never know what I may experience that day. I’m constantly learning more about programming, about consumers, about life…  I’ve grown to learn to adjust to roadblocks and bumps in the road that we encounter. This helps me develop new alternatives in order to reach our goals.

What are some of Jose and Phyllis’ highlights of working with Andrea as their CEO?

Jose: Andrea is that steadying influence that isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions.  Coming from different professional backgrounds, she approaches situations differently than I may view things, which provides a different perspective and allows us to view things in a different light.  At the same time, she is very supportive of our programs and services and she is equally committed to providing quality services.  While I’m evaluating the vision of where I believe our Clinical services can be, she keeps my grounded and helps to make our dreams a reality. I sincerely appreciate her confidence in me and for allowing me to generate so many new concepts. I believe that says a great deal about her.

Phyllis:  I am proud to have been included in her interview 20 years ago and emphatically supported that we hire her as the Director of Accounting.  Even then she carried herself so well and with such dignity that I had an immediate sense of her values. It has been a pleasure to watch her rise to the responsibilities of COO and then CEO.  There has never been a day that I haven’t seen her conduct the business of the agency in grace, with knowledge, and with an aura of confident spiritual leadership.

What are Jose and Phyllis most proud of?

Jose: Without a doubt, I’m most proud of our staff.  Not only do they face some exceptional challenges, but they always tend to exceed my expectations.  We go to great lengths to help each client, and the sacrifices that our staff makes are remarkable.  They each deserve to be recognized in this spotlight, as without them, I wouldn’t be able to do the work that I do.

Phyllis: I am proud of the fact that I am still here, that I have weathered everything that came this way over those 28+ years. The joys, the sorrows, the trials, tribulation and the accomplishments mean the world to me! I’m very proud that in some small way I have played a part in helping all those that have served and continue to serve at STVCC and that together we have helped thousands and thousands of people in need. I truly love this agency, her people, and her clients.  I am blessed!

What are common misconceptions about STVCC that Jose and Phyllis run into in the community?  How do they change them? 

Jose: When it comes to anyone who has experienced trauma, there can be a stigmatism associated to those individuals that there is something wrong with them.  For example, we still encounter some individuals who view the Children’s Home as a program for ‘delinquents,’ when the reality is far from the truth.  It’s impossible (nor would we ever want) to relate to the experiences these children have endured.  With our familial culture at the Children’s Home, we’re able to help develop trust between children and adults. This creates effective bonds of trust with adults for many of the children.  The reality is they’re each a child at heart, with a desire to be nurtures and loved.  They have the same interests and needs that my own children have had. Unfortunately, most of them haven’t experienced a safe, nurturing environment to help them. 

Jose and Phyllis are two of many dedicated employees at STVCC. If you’d like to learn more ways to get involved, visit our website to find information about volunteering, internships, and employment opportunities.

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