Cayuga Centers staff member celebrates 25 years with agency

Jun 28, 2013

John Henry’s career at Cayuga Centers encompasses 25 years at the agency which has undergone many changes since he started June 13, 1988 when it was then named Cayuga Home for Children. He started as a Relief Group Care Worker and then moved to a full time position, which he held for nearly 20 years, before becoming an Instructional Designer/Agency Trainer for the agency. 

Henry says, “Training has been interesting since it’s allowed me to meet many of the agency’s nearly 300 staff members, and has taken me to the various agency locations,” which now include Rochester and the Bronx among other local satellite offices in Central New York. Agency programs have expanded during his tenure to include services for people with developmental disabilities, and home-based counseling and preventive services for families in addition to a licensed mental health clinic.

About his years as a Group Care Worker for youth in the agency’s Residential Treatment Center, Henry says, “the kids I worked with have a future, and while I didn’t know how it would turn out, there was the chance that something I (or one of my co-workers) said or did would come back to one of these kids down the road and make their situation a little better.”  That hope was what kept him coming back every day. “Another way to look at it is to think back to when you were in school, and recall a teacher who had a big impact on you – in a good way.  Every day in this job, group care workers have the chance to be that teacher! How great is that?”

Henry says he would still be doing group care work if the opportunity to serve as agency trainer had not come along.  He calls the trainer position “part training and part agency cheerleader.” 

He helps conduct new hire agency orientation and trains new Residential Treatment Center staff in a three week-long process that includes the evidence-based recovery program used in the Residential Treatment Center.  He believes his years of experience as a direct care worker are valuable, but is also open to learning in new areas.  Henry coordinates the STARS training for the agency – the Statewide Training Automated Registration System website, run by NYS Office of Children and Family Services and CDHS (Center for the Development of Human Services at SUNY Buffalo). 

When asked about the move toward online trainings he says he doesn’t think they will ever completely replace the face-to-face trainings. Interaction, group activities and the chance for Q & A sessions are a valuable part of the in-person sessions. 

President and CEO Edward Myers Hayes says about Henry, “For 25 years, John has helped the youth we serve reclaim productive lives.  As an Agency Trainer, he extends this influence by helping young professionals learn to work effectively with youth and families.  We are lucky to have John.”

Henry and his wife of 25 years, Jennifer, live near Auburn with their three children.  He says, “I couldn’t have made it here 25 years without the support, and understanding, of my family. One of the challenges of residential care work is that your patience gets tapped out some days by those you work with, so you don’t have the patience for your own family when you walk in the door. You need some time to re-group and re-charge your batteries when you get home, and my family has been patient with me during those times.

My co-workers through the years get a lot of credit, too. No one lasts 25 years when they’re miserable, and I’ve been lucky to have worked with, and learned from, many passionate, dedicated people through the years, teammates and supervisors alike.”

Cayuga Centers, based in Auburn, NY, serves children and families throughout New York State, offering a variety of evidence-based programs, residential and foster care treatment, and services for persons with developmental disabilities.  Cayuga Centers, with nearly 300 employees, has a $17 million budget.



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