This November marks Tonya Cherry’s one year anniversary at Envoy of Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Virginia. As you learn about the years that have led her to her current position, you will understand that Tonya is exactly where she is supposed to be. Her core values as well as her personal and professional experiences have allowed her to thrive as an activities assistant at Envoy. The future is full of opportunity too.
Tonya studied business administration in college with a minor in marketing. She also studied early childhood education. She was temporarily derailed In 1994, when she was in a terrible car accident. She was critically injured in the crash, and it took two years of “blood, sweat, and tears” in physical therapy to fully recover. After suffering and working so hard to rehabilitate, Tonya knew that she wanted to work in the medical field so she could help others.
In 2000, Tonya became an CNA. For the past 18 years, she has been working in healthcare and education. About working with the residents, she says, “It’s like seeing myself after the accident.” She sees the patients’ pain and she encourages them not to give up during therapy.
Tonya is motivated each day by the smiles on the residents’ faces. As she interacts with the residents, she keeps her own grandmother in mind. Her grandma is in a care center too, so Tonya treats her residents like she wants her grandmother to be treated. For example, if someone is having a rough day, she will give them a “smooch on the head.” Tonya told us, “If a resident asks me to do something, I will never say no.” This is what compassion and respect look like in action. She also told us about a special patient who was in hospice after a difficult battle with diabetes. Tonya sat with him and was holding his hand when he passed away. She still has regular contact with his daughter and misses him very much.
Tonya believes in finding away to exceed expectations. She said that it helps to be creative. A small improvement can make a big impact. It can be as simple as special sprinkles during an ice cream social, or coming up with a great new positive idea for the bulletin boards. She also believes that “Teamwork makes the dream work,” and you should always try to help other departments in the care center.
Tonya is currently in training to be an activities director and hopes to make an impact using her experiences and contacts from her prior jobs in healthcare and education. In particular, she hopes to get the care center more involved with the community through public service projects and joint activities. In her spare time, Tonya loves playing bingo, shopping, and enjoying her three year-old granddaughter.