“We’re really excited. It’s a tremendous opportunity,” he says. “We’ve met with people from The Buckeye Ranch, Pomegranate Health Systems, the main providers, and they’ve got their arms open.”
Eastway runs a tight financial ship, consistently returning enough money to reinvest and grow programs where services are needed. It doesn’t rely on fundraising to pay the rent.
Eastway also has experience with the challenges of a satellite office from its girls’ residential treatment center located 45 miles outside of Dayton.
“The board of directors as well as management are continuing to work on what is the best organizational model to make sure that we are locally responsive to the needs of the people in Columbus — and we’re not trying to run it from Dayton, Ohio,” Strahm says.
That’s the biggest lesson Eastway took from visiting Michigan’s Starr Commonwealth to find out why it closed the same Columbus facility a few years ago. You can’t manage from a distance.
Corporate’s job should be to give support to the people on the ground, he says.
You didn’t do anything wrong
Eastway’s treatment philosophy is trauma-informed care — acknowledging what these children have been through. But it takes very special people to do that, especially in a residential setting.
Strahm says more than 100 people will work at the Heritage of Hannah Neil, so Eastway looked for the right person to recruit and manage them. Executive Director Tom Standish fits that bill with more than 30 years of experience.
“When we opened up the little boys program in Dayton, one of the first kids, a five-year-old boy, walks up and the first thing he says to us is ‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’” he says. “We know you didn’t. The basis of our treatment isn’t what did you do that we need to fix. It is what has been done to you that we need to help you heal from.”
Eastway has invested almost $4 million into opening up Heritage of Hannah Neil, including transforming it from institutional to kid-friendly.
“Kids are people, too, and people live up to expectations,” he says. “I think they are really proud to be in a place that shows we care about them.”