HCN News & Notes

CHD’s Katisha Woods-Johnson Receives Award

SPRINGFIELD — Katisha Woods-Johnson, director for the Center for Human Development’s (CHD) Terri Thomas Girls Program, has received a Department of Youth Services (DYS) Commissioner’s Award for 2016. The Terri Thomas Girls Program is a secure, residential treatment program operated by CHD at the DYS facility on Tinkham Road in Springfield.

Woods-Johnson was recognized for her work leveraging community connections to touch the lives of many youth in CHD custody and care, as well as their families. For example, she built a partnership with Home Depot that began with the company’s commitment to visit the Tinkham Road campus to do some projects with the youth. That blossomed into an ongoing monthly program in which the youth have hung doors and installed windows, learned basic wiring and put in outlets, built Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, and installed tile. Home Depot has donated all the materials and their employees’ time for the projects.

Woods-Johnson also connected with Suit Up Springfield, a nonprofit organization that donates suits and dresses to people in need so they have proper attire for job interviews. Every young person in the programs at Tinkham Road received such an outfit and wore it to a semi-formal Thanksgiving banquet also attended by their families. Woods-Johnson paid for the banquet — the first most of the youth had ever attended — with donations and a fund-raising event. The youth served their families dinner, and a professional photographer volunteered to take pictures of each family as a keepsake.

Woods-Johnson has brought local poets, painters, Zumba instructors, hip-hop artists, and more to the DYS campus to volunteer their time running groups with the youth.

“Katisha Woods-Johnson does this work, which is above and beyond her job description, with no expectation of recognition,” said John Roberson, vice president of Children and Family Services for CHD. “Her creativity has created linkages to the community that allow youth to access additional services beyond what we are able to provide through normal programming. Katisha creates opportunities for these young people to be successful now and after they leave our program. For her steadfast commitment to the betterment of youth in our custody and care, Katisha has earned this impressive recognition and thanks from all whose lives she touches.”