In 1980, Wayne Jozwiak walked into Elk Grove-Schaumburg Township Mental Health Services, the newest hire of a small agency of about 70 staff with a brand new building on the corner of Nerge and Rohlwing Road in Elk Grove Village. Providing outpatient therapy to youth, adults, and families, it was a small, closely knit team of clinicians with a spark of anticipation and growth after a successful decade of service to the community.
“Everything was new” explained Wayne, “and it was exciting to be part of something at its beginning.” Just a few years later, the agency would change its name to Kenneth Young Center.
Wayne’s role within the organization grew, starting as an outpatient therapist for youth and then transitioning to providing crisis support to individuals experiencing psychiatric emergencies in the ‘90s. Wayne was promoted to work as a senior clinician, supervising other therapists as the team continued to grow, building strong interpersonal bonds between team members – many of whom also stayed at KYC for decades of service.
“Our staff is incredible and invested in ‘the helping profession’,” explained Wayne.
When KYC opened its residential living program, Wayne was at the helm, ready to take on new challenges and establish new service areas that would meet the needs of the clients he’d dedicated himself to supporting.
For years, he was the Manager of Adult Services, overseeing all of the clinical programs providing support to adults. By this point in his KYC career, the brand new building in Elk Grove where he started had been added onto twice, and multiple teams established additional offsite offices as the agency continued to grow.
“Seniors was offsite. PSR was offsite. SASS was offsite. There was no room!” shared Wayne with a smile. “And yet even now, our hay day is yet to come.”
For decades, the slender, tall gentleman known for his warm personality, quick wit, wise advice, early morning cup of coffee, and music that always drifts into the hallway from his office as he sips that early morning cup of coffee, juggled multiple roles while leading with a smile. He knew every staff person’s name and put clients at ease with his gentle demeanor. He played on the staff softball team and attended KYC’s dinner dances and fashion shows, and even has illuminating stories of attending fellow staff members’ weddings and family gatherings as a fixture in the lives of his teammates.
Wanting to spend more time with family, Wayne attempted to retire in 2008, but after a few months, it became clear his time with KYC wasn’t done yet.
Although retirement had plenty of perks, Wayne missed being of service to others and the community he had built at KYC. He returned to the agency part-time, filling a vacancy on the Older Adults’ CHOICES Team, visiting older adults as they discharged from hospitals to complete screening questionnaires and assist with transition planning.
“I was thrilled to have Wayne on our team!” shared KYC’s Director of Older Adult Services, Crissy Castillo. He knew everything about KYC and everyone on the team…he didn’t start [his KYC career] on the OA [Older Adults] Team, but now I honestly don’t know what we’d do without him!”
More than five years after coming out of retirement, Wayne now flexes between part-time and full-time roles as client needs evolve and staffing changes. In November 2020, he celebrated his 40th anniversary with KYC, officially making him the longest tenured staff person in KYC’s history.
“KYC is lucky to have dedicated staff with long-tenures of service to the agency. No one embodies that commitment and care for others more than Wayne. He ensures every person he encounters feels valued, heard, supported, and empowered. I’m proud to celebrate him and recognize his incredible service to our community” said KYC’s CEO, Grace Hong Duffin.
“You don’t know anything until you learn it” said Wayne. “Your kindness will be forwarded to others and that impact is our responsibility.”
Congratulations and thank you, Wayne, for 40 years of service and counting. Cheers to many, many more.
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