CATS' Staff Spotlight applauds employees who merit special recognition for their contributions to their departments and to this organization.
Position: Medical Billing Specialist
About Tara: Two years ago Tara started filing in the record room. She moved on to data entry and most recently was promoted to medical billing specialist in the outpatient department. Tara continues to do filing in addition to her other responsibilities proving that you can take the person out of the file room, but you can’t take filing away from the person. Tara also frequently shares her story of hope and recovery on CATS behalf at a variety of events. Tara is being recognized for her excellent work. She, along with other staff being recognized will be treated to lunch and will be entered into a drawing for something special to celebrate being honored. Read on to learn a little bit more about her.
1. What was your response to learning you were chosen for recognition? That it was cool. That hard works pays off.
2. What is your motivation for working at CATS? As a former 2x client I credit CATS for saving my life. I want to give something back in return. Even though I don’t work directly with clients, I know how important the behinds-the-scenes work is.
3. What is the best thing about your job? I’ve never been happier at a job. Everyone is willing to help and lend a hand.
4. What is the worst thing about your job? I hate getting in early!
5. What is something that most people probably don’t realize about your job? Whatever they have to do, I have to do 200 times over. For every note they write, I have to do it 200 times because we have 200 clients whose every service needs entered.
6. What is one thing that could improve your job? Clinical staff turning in their notes on a timely basis!
7. What is your professional goal? To unseat Marybeth Adams and run the department (jokingly said. I think.)
8. What’s new? I’m a newlywed.
9. Favorite food? Pizza! (said with a smile), but I’m on a diet (said with a frown)
10. Favorite movie? Old School
11. Favorite album? Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”
12. Any personal goals you’d like to share? I want to have a child and to move out to the suburbs.
13. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at CATS? Cooking, especially Italian and Mexican. I attend two 12-step meetings a week and enjoy sponsoring girls. Watching movies. Spending time with my nephews. Shopping.
Position: Men’s Residential (A/B) Counselor
About Whitney: Please join me in saluting Whitney Grimes who is being recognized for her excellent work. Whitney has been at CATS for four years. She started at CATS as an intern and is now a trusted member of the clinical treatment team. Whitney has a PCC (Professional Clinical Counselor). She earned a Master’s degree in order to sit for her license which allows her to practice independently. She is working on her “S”. When she gets that she will be able to supervise newly licensed counselors who are working on their independent licenses.
1. What attracted you to this field? My family has drug and alcohol problems. In fact, my uncle just passed away from liver disease related to alcoholism. He drank his whole life.
2. What about CATS specifically? I like the flexibility; that I can focus on substance abuse and mental health. I like that CATS takes a holistic approach to treatment. It’s not just 12-steps or just CBT.
3. What Is your favorite part of your job? Working with the clients, having individual sessions with them. It’s not just talking about the rules and what’s broken (referencing the weekly community meetings of which those are the biggest topics of discussion). Veronica (RA Supervisor) and Kalani (A/B Lead RA) have taken over most of the discipline and sanctions. I appreciate this because I can focus on counseling.
4.What is your least favorite part of your job? The community meetings (reference my note in favorite part above to understand why). I’m still learning to find a balance between the clinical and criminal justice sides of things.
5. Do you have any professional goals? Focusing on the clinical aspect of working with clients. I want to get my “S”.
6. Does this mean there is a supervisor position in your future? Maybe. I’m more open to it now than I was.
7. Is there anything you’d like to share on a personal note? My other passion is fitness and nutrition. I coach a boot camp, a full body strength training with cardio in a community environment at Quail Hollow and Core Cleveland in Westlake. I have a dog named Kip. He’s a chorkie. He’s a beast, not a tea cup kind of dog!
8. Favorite food? Donuts. In case you’re wondering, yes, she sees it too. We had a good laugh at the irony of fitness and nutrition coach’s favorite food being donuts.
9. Favorite movie? Star Wars. The original is best. Yes, she will be seeing “The Last Jedi” opening weekend.
10. Favorite TV show? The Office (American Version). Michael Scott is the best!
11. Favorite musical artist? Britney Spears. I have to see her in Vegas before she leaves.
12. What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Going to my husband’s family in Cuyahoga Falls. I’m making the vegetables. I always make the vegetables! (I guess they don’t know about the donut thing).
Position: Women’s Residential Counselor
About Kristie: Please join me in saluting Kristie Colley who is being recognized for her excellent work. Kristie has been at CATS for four and a half years. She is a valuable part of her clinical team. Kristie has a LSW (Licensed Social Worker). She earned a Bachelor’s degree in order to sit for her license.
1. What attracted you to this field? I started working in substance abuse and that’s what my internship was. I left it for a while and worked in mental health only to find that I hated it! I returned to AOD [as in she returned to work in the field, not a return to using Alcohol and Other Drugs] and started at CATS.
2. What about CATS specifically? I like my co-workers. We make a great team! I like that I can mostly make my own schedule. I like the clients.
3. What is your favorite part of your job? Seeing change in the clients. It’s very rewarding.
4. What is your least favorite part of your job? Probably the money. Said with both a hearty laugh and the quiet resignation that reflects an understanding of the frequent rewarding, but rarely lucrative world of non-profit social services. Employee turnover. I like stability and structure.
5. Do you have any professional goals? To get my LCDC II (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor).
I asked Kristie what she would do if given the chance to call the shots. She laughed and said “I don’t know. That’s why I don’t want to get the LISW (independent license); I don’t like making those kind of decisions!”
6. Is there anything you’d like to share on a personal note? I love animals! I’m a dog lover. I have a dog, Henry. He’s a schnoodle.
7. Favorite food? Ice cream. Mint chocolate chip. Especially from Old Stone Creamery
8. Favorite movie? Love Actually and Shutter Island.
9. Favorite TV show? The Office (American Version). Parks and Recreation (We have a delightful conversation about the magic of Li’l Sebastian)
10. Favorite musical artist? Adele. I love her!
11. Do you have any personal goals you’d like to share? I want to get another doggy.
William Maddox JR.
Position: Men’s Program Manager A/B
1. How long have you been at CATS? 4 ½ years . In my tenure: started off counseling in men’s residential. Went to the Federal BOP Program for counseling (Filled in as manager for BOP), came back to Men’s Residential as Program Manager.
2. What attracted you to this field of work? Will is in recovery himself (11 years clean as of December 14th) and he has the desire help others.
3. What about CATS specifically? The Atmosphere as a whole and how we operate as a team.
4. What is your favorite part of your job? Successful Discharges.
5. What is your least favorite part of your job? Having to address and sanction anti – social behavior and unsuccessful discharges.
6. What is something that most people probably don’t know / realize about your job? We must manage our self-care…self-care is the key to doing this job well.
7. Favorite Food / Type? Fried Chicken / Jamaican
8. Favorite Movie / TV Show? The God Father / “Luke Cage” on Netflix (He is a Marvel Super Hero).
9. Favorite Musical Artist / Genre? Don’t have a favorite artist / Smooth Jazz.
10. Is there anything you would like to share on a personal note? Humbled & Honored that my colleagues thought well of me that I was nominated for this.
10. Do you have any upcoming plans or goals (personal or professional) Plan to become an Ordained Minister in January 2018. Looking forward to obtaining my LISW. Hanging out with family for the holidays.
11. What do you enjoy doing when you are not at CATS? Being with and doing ANYTHING with my WIFE!
Position: Resident Advocate - Outpatient
1. How long have you been at CATS? 2 ½ years
2. What attracted you to this field of work? Was going to school to become a surgical tech…somehow my studies brought me in this direction. I just have a heart for people.
3. What about CATS specifically? In Recovery was homeless and sleeping in my car…one of the young ladies in recovery said…lets go put an application in at CATS. I was praying to God to have employment and the phone rang…it was Ms. Ruth and she told me to come in for an interview…here I am!
4. What is your favorite part of your job? Interacting with the clients and now I am helping facilitate groups.
5. What is your least favorite part of your job? When somebody comes in and we hear that one of our clients went out and died. It is so hard becoming involved in people’s lives one day and their gone the next.
6. What is something that most people probably don’t know / realize about your job? That you have to have compassion and empathy. So many people first starting out in treatment have many “stories to tell” about this and that…but over time we hear those stories change and individuals start taking responsibility for themselves and their actions.
7. Favorite Food / Type? Fried Chicken, Greens, Corn Bread / Obviously….Soul food
8. Favorite Movie / TV Show? The Shack / America Has Talent
9. Favorite Musical Artist / Genre? Yolanda Adams / Gospel
10. Is there anything you would like to share on a personal note? Celebrated 14 years of sobriety on November 27th. I have an Associate Degree in applied Sciences & my CDCA. That I am fearfully, beautifully, and wonderfully made.
11. Do you have any upcoming plans or goals (personal or professional)? To obtain my Master’s in Social Work. (Because) Ricki’s Pushes me…but in a good way…she believes in me and that means the world to me. Also, Ms. Veronica is my ambassador of tough love. She has our best interest at heart. I appreciate her. Looking forward to spending time with my children and 13 grandchildren…love to hear the laughter. Family is what it is all about!!!
12. What do you enjoy doing when you are not at CATS? Spending time with family ALWAYS. Watching movies at home. I’m a home body. Go to Recovery Meetings. Feeding the homeless. I LOVE going to church. She is taking applications for a husband…any takers?
Position: Resident Advocate – Men’s A
1. How long have you been at CATS? 2 years and about 9 months
2. What attracted you to this field of work? First of all, I’m in recovery and understand the pain of addition. Always wanted to help people and this place gives a great opportunity to do that.
3. What about CATS specifically? Don’t want to sound superficial, but it is the family setting that attracts me…things might not always be fair…but families are like that. So like family, learning to take the bitter with the sweet.
4. What is your favorite part of your job? When one of the clients tell me I help them…that is what it is all about!
5. What is your least favorite part of your job? The pay.
6. What is something that most people probably don’t know / realize about your job? The job is very taxing and demanding. Demands more interment / personal relationships then counselors. We have to be there and are more hands on with clients then anyone. We are often looked at as the bad guy, but we have to enforce the rules.
7. Favorite Food / Type? Shrimp / Seafood. I don't eat pork or beef.
8. Favorite Movie / TV Show? John Wick / The Good Doctor.
9. Favorite Musical Artist / Genre? Don’t have a favorite artist / Chicago Style Stepping Music
10. Is there anything you would like to share on a personal note? Been married since April 17, 2016 to Philicia. She is a County Sheriff 21 years and has brought & taken away clients from CATS often enough. I just overall love people and love helping them.
11. Do you have any upcoming plans or goals (personal or professional)? Would like to grow in the field of recovery to a CDCA-II.
12. What do you enjoy doing when you are not at CATS? Watching movies and dancing.
Position: Facilities Manager
About Jerome: Jerome Wallace has recently been promoted to Facilities Manager after working for us for just six months. Upon hire he quickly gained the reputation as being knowledgeable, responsive to requests and quick with a helping hand accompanied by a huge smile. A few of his responsibilities include overseeing facilities repairs, budgets, work orders, expenditures, reporting, forecasting, and team leadership . He also works closely with Char Osterland, Director of Administration, in formulating the strategic direction of the department. He and his Team offered to take on the complete rehab of a building that will soon be the home of our IOP Annex, which is expected to open early 2018, and the results are impressive.
1. Before working for CATS, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I was an order filler/billing clerk for a sewing notions company in Downtown Cleveland know as the Hass Company.
2. How has CATS helped you in your career development? My level of commitment to helping my fellow man overcome obstacles has increased. I am more determined to make our client’s tenure while here at CATS more comfortable.
3. What are three words to describe CATS for perspective employees? Caring, Attentive, and Sensitive.
4. What has been your proudest moment at CATS? Seeing the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) Annex building remodel project coming into existence.
5. How did you first learn about CATS? My wife’s cousin worked here a few years ago.
6. What is your favorite quote? Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself.
7. Top three life highlights? 1.Finally finding my soulmate, who is my current wife , Maria; 2. Going back to school after 35 years and graduating college; and 3. Giving my life to God.
8. What is the greatest challenge in your life that you had to overcome? Being a single parents after the death of my first wife, and raising a 4-1/2 year old daughter.
9. What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 10 years? Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take life one step at a time, and don’t forget to smell the roses.
10. What would people be surprised if they knew about you? My age.
11. What is on your bucket list? To Travel the world!
12. What do you like to do on your days off? Rest and do things with my wife.
Position: Men's Residential Counselor
About Melanie: Licensed Social Worker, Melanie Mertz, began as an intern a couple of years ago for CATS while finishing up her Bachelor’s Degree at Cleveland State University. We were so impressed with her positive attitude and work ethic, that she was offered a full time position as a Counselor for our Men’s Residential Unit upon graduation in December of last year. She is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree.
1. Before working for CATS, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I used to work as an STNA with patients who had dementia. I loved working with the residents at this facility and every day was different and interesting.
2. How has CATS helped you in your career development? CATS has allowed me to work as an intern to work toward my bachelors and masters degree in social work. When I first started as an intern, I had no experience working in this field and everyone at CATS was so helpful and willing to answer my questions.
3. What are three words to describe CATS for perspective employees? Supportive, Caring, and a Team.
4. What has been your proudest moment at CATS? A past client telling me that he has recently bought books for school and has enrolled in classes while completing his last NIOP group. He had been working on getting into school since he arrived at CATS and was able to achieve his goal.
5. How did you first learn about CATS? I heard about CATS while at Cleveland State and was looking for an internship in the chemical dependency field.
6. What is your favorite quote? When you blame yourself you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don’t learn nothing because its not your fault, its his fault over there. -Joe Strummer
7. Top three life highlights? Getting engaged, becoming a licensed social worker, and traveling to Europe.
8. What is the greatest challenge in your life that you had to overcome?The personal issues that I created for myself. I made poor decisions that affected my life negatively until I made small goals for myself which motivated me to turn things around.
9. What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 10 years? How important it is to spend time with people that you care about.
10. What would people be surprised if they knew about you? I have been playing guitar since I was 13.
11. What is on your bucket list? I want to go to Australia one day.
12. What do you like to do on your days off? Spend time with friends and my fiance.
Position: Outpatient Counselor
About Kyle: Since joining our team in 2015 as an Intern, Kyle Higgins, a Social Work Master’s graduate of Cleveland State University and now Outpatient Counselor has helped strengthen our agency’s mission, vision, and values. Kyle’s commitment is seen through both his actions and positive attitude, as well as his steadfast dedication to bettering the lives of the struggling with addiction.
1. Before working for CATS, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I was an independent pharmacy owner; owning and operating a small chain of 5 stores in Lorain County servicing retail, mental health crisis, infectious disease, nursing home, and corrections clients/patients.
2. How has CATS helped you in your career development? I interned at CATS while at CSU from 2015 to 2016 and enjoyed the atmosphere. When an outpatient counseling position presented itself, I applied.
3. What are three words to describe CATS for perspective employees? Casual, Camaraderie,Family/Independent.
4. What has been your proudest moment at CATS? Being recognized for this commendation.
5. How did you first learn about CATS? A friend interned here while we were in school for our MSW degree and spoke highly of the experience.
6. What is your favorite quote? Those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter-- Dr. Seuss.
7. Top three life highlights? The ongoing success of my three children. Chloe is a chemical Engineer. Harrison is a CPA working locally at Cohen in Cleveland, Ohio. Benjamin is in his 4th year of engineering at OSU.
8. What is the greatest challenge in your life that you had to overcome? I entered recovery on 10/31/2009. I was, shall we say, “recalcitrant” toward the process coming out of several decades of active addiction.
9. What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 10 years? Mindfulness and finding meaning in life.
10. What would people be surprised if they knew about you? I am in recovery and a pharmacist.
11. What is on your bucket list? World Travel
12. What do you like to do on your days off? Time with family when possible and KODI.