VHS Dining and Nutrition Director shares fresh summertime recipe for Culinary Month

July is Culinary Month, and the Virginia Health Services Director of Dining and Nutrition Christina Lewis shared a recipe to encourage you to take advantage of the abundant summer harvest during grilling season.

This salad is easy to make and combines two of the best summertime activities — grilling and taking advantage of the abundance of fresh, ripe peaches! Any of the stone fruits that are ripe in summer — peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines — are great on the grill.

Grilling helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the fruits, and the warmth of the grilled fruits is a great contrast to the cool crispness of the lettuce.

We hope you indulge in this summer’s offerings with this salad!

Grilled Peach and Goat Cheese Salad with Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

Recipe card for the Honey Lemon Vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette


  • Zest of one Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Honey Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 3/4 cup Olive Oil

Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, honey mustard, black pepper and honey in a blender. With blender running on slow speed, slowly pour in olive oil until emulsified. Store in refrigerator until ready to use. Makes about 1 cup.

Recipe card for Grilled Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

For the salad


  • 4 Ripe Peaches
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Red Onion
  • 6 ounces Mixed Salad Greens
  • 1/2 cup Goat Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Toasted Pecans

Heat grill to 450 degrees or medium-high heat. Slice peaches in half and remove pit. Brush peach halves with olive oil and place on prepared grill until desired grill marks appear and peaches have softened. Remove peaches from grill and let cool.

Once peaches have cooled, slice each half into four to six slices and set aside. While peaches are cooling, finely slice red onion and combine with mixed salad greens. Crumble goat cheese over salad greens. Add chopped pecans and sliced peaches, add prepared dressing and toss lightly to combine.

Dining and Nutrition at VHS

The Virginia Health Services Dietary and Nutrition Department serves residents at our senior living communities and nursing and rehabilitation centers. It also offers nutritional services to individuals in our care with VHS Home Health and VHS Hospice.

The department is overseen by the Director of Dining and Nutrition.

Our team provides culinary oversight and fresh meals for our senior living residents. The lunch and dinner menu are refreshed monthly and feature dishes with seasonal ingredients at The Arbors Independent Living. Our team relies on residents’ input in developing a dining experience that caters to them. The dining director often hosts cooking demonstrations to help our residents stay healthy when they utilize their apartment kitchens.

Dietary managers at each of the assisted living communities and nursing centers meet with new admissions to determine nutritional and dietary needs, and resident preferences. They are responsible for daily meals, snacks and beverage service.

VHS Senior VP, first director of VHS Rehabilitation celebrates 25th anniversary

VHS Senior Vice President David Crosson celebrates his 25th anniversary with the company in July 2024.

David joined the team in 1999 to bring VHS Rehabilitation to life as Executive Director. At that time, he was its only team member.

“I was doing treatments, evals, and recruiting therapists,” he said.

VHS Rehabilitation launches

His connections from previous stops with national rehabilitation contract companies helped VHS Rehabilitation (then Virginia Health Rehab) staff up quickly. At the time, the reimbursement model for nursing homes changed and it became more business savvy to provide an in-house therapy team in nursing homes for skilled care.

“Because of how the industry was changing, those therapists at contract companies and recent grads were looking for work. I was able to provide job opportunities. With me being the only person, I needed the staff, too. We were able to bring staff on pretty quickly,” David says.

About a year later, VHS Rehabilitation opened its outpatient site. Over the course of its 25 years, VHS Rehabilitation has grown to include physical, speech and occupational therapy in outpatient, skilled care and contract settings that have included assisted living centers, jails and schools.

Today, the VHS Rehabilitation team has about 70 regular team members and 250 PRNs to staff its skilled care therapy rooms, outpatient center and contract clients. The team includes physical, speech and occupational therapists, techs, assistants and administrative assistants.

While he has a background in physical therapy — he earned bachelor’s degree in exercise science and master’s degree in physical therapy from Old Dominion University — David says he prefers the operational side of the business, including staffing and dealing with regulatory issues.

During his time with VHS, David has had a hand in the acquisition of Coliseum in 2013 — “that was a big pickup for us,” he says — and spearheaded establishing VHS Home Health Care in 2015 and VHS Hospice in 2017.

“Once we got into skilled care, VHS grew a lot. We changed our operations. VHS grew along with me,” he says.

He was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2016.

Home and Community-Based Services grow

VHS bought a license from a company that was owned by the company former VHS Home Health Care Administrator Cheri Brnich was working for at the time.

“She was very aggressive in our buildings,” he recalls. “She and I clicked. She’s very enthusiastic. She was then the acting administrator at a different company and we had a good working relationship. We brought her on as administrator for Home Health.”

He says they expected a slower ramp up when VHS Home Health Care launched, but “it came out of the door fast and we had 30 residents in the first month, which set expectations really high, even though we were doing it with limited staff. … If we had known we were going to pop that fast, we would have had more staff.”

He says VHS Hospice took about a year to start from scratch and become licensed.

“My philosophy is I don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, but I surround myself with the smartest people. If I have a good team, they make me look better,” he says. “I have the knack to help manage and have vision. That’s where growth during those periods occurred. …

“We have a great opportunity to collaborate with all of our business units. We should be the provider of choice for our residents when they need rehab, home care, hospice. There’s so much value to that.”


The Philadelphia native met his wife while attending ODU.

“She had just started her PhD program at ODU,” he says. “Her family was here, father worked for Old Dominion. This just became the place we landed.”

He says he is proud of everything he is involved in developing.

“The Rehab piece is a big piece of VHS. Home Health and Hospice were big additions to VHS and the success of VHS. It wouldn’t be something I would want to do and walk away from,” he says. “It’s nice to see those businesses develop and evolve. And then, it’s also the people. … A lot of what I do is more for the people who work for me, and keep them employed in environments they’re thriving in.”

Coliseum celebrates first anniversary of Dialysis Den

The end of June marked the one-year anniversary of the Dialysis Den opening at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in partnership with DaVita Kidney Care.

In a year’s time, the Den has completed 1,485 treatment sessions, said June Barbrey, Vice President of Admissions and Front-End Revenue Integrity. Based on census, DaVita has added team members to cover more shifts over more days.

The Coliseum team is responsible for getting residents ready and taking them to and from the treatment center. The DaVita team manages the treatment process in the Den. There are six chairs for residents to receive treatments in three days a week over three shifts. It can accommodate 18 to 24 residents a week.

Den opens

The Den treated its first patient June 28, 2023. Three residents received treatment in the first two weeks.

“You see the outcomes and how much better it is for the residents,” says Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas. “We have had to think outside of the box in operations flow, but everyone works as a team.”

Having an on-site Dialysis Den is beneficial to residents who no longer have to worry about transportation off-site in addition to receiving hours-long treatments. Residents receiving rehabilitation are able to participate in their sessions and Coliseum’s activities without having to leave the facility for dialysis treatment, giving them a fuller experience. The shortened transportation time also allows team members time to prepare residents for treatment in a more efficient time frame.

“We’re serving a population, too, that might have transportation issues — a family member who might not be available to take them, or they might not have any family in the area,” June said.

The Den opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house following a soft launch the end of June 2023. Its opening was covered by the Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot in October 2023.

Coliseum offers its residents an array of activities and services. Visit the community’s Facebook page for the latest updates and news.

National Bronze Quality Award recognition shared by local media

In June, Virginia Health Services released news that five of its communities received the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) for their commitment to improving the lives of residents through quality care. 

The Newport, Northampton and Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, and The Hamilton and The Huntington Assisted Living communities were among the state’s 17 Bronze award recipients.

The Gloucester Gazette-Journal and the Daily Press/Virginian-Pilot published the Bronze Quality Award recipient news.

Daily Press (published July 15, 2024): https://www.dailypress.com/2024/07/15/business-notes-for-the-week-of-july-15-3/

Gloucester Gazette Journal (published July, 2024): https://www.gazettejournal.net/walter-reed-receives-bronze-national-quality-award/

Three graduate Gloucester apprenticeship program

Virginia Health Services celebrated its most recent class of apprentice graduates from the Gloucester program during a ceremony Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Three students graduated from Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and will continue to serve on the team at Walter Reed. The earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program provides about six weeks of classroom and clinical skills training, in addition to on-the-floor experience, and covers the cost of the certification exam to be a CNA.

Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins welcomed friends and family to the ceremony.

“I started in the CNA class back in the stone age,” Bryant joked, “and it catapulted my career.”

Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins addresses the three graduates from the podium as instructor Tracy Williams looks on.
Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins welcomes the graduates and their friends and family during Tuesday’s ceremony.

Bryant worked his way from CNA to LPN and then served in various roles including MDS before becoming the licensed administrator for Walter Reed.

“These ladies have bright futures ahead in healthcare. Thank you all for supporting them,” he said. “This is just the beginning. We take great pride in providing a clinical site, and welcome them to the team.”

Gloucester graduates

The graduates — Jordan Hudnall, Kaeli Key and Candi Lewis — brought a sense of humor to the class, said Training and Education Coordinator Tracy Williams, MSN, BSN, RN.

They all wound up having personal connections to Tracy. She went to school with Kaeli’s father, lives down the street from Candi and worked with Jordan while she was a Care Assistant before the course started at Walter Reed.

“This was a very special class for me. They all learned quickly and excelled in clinicals and the classroom portion of the class,” Tracy said.

Jordan earned the Champion Award for excelling in class and connecting with the residents.

Candi was salutatorian and Kaeli was awarded valedictorian for top marks.

“I was extremely nervous — kind of like I am right now — and worried I would fail, but I was wrong. With the help of amazing teacher and two equally amazing classmates, I watched my confidence increase week after week,” Kaeli said in her valedictorian speech. “… Thank you, VHS, for offering this program, Tracy for being the best teacher we could have, and Candi and Jordan for being so supportive and all the laughs. We did it.”

Kaeli Key delivers valedictorian remarks to her classmates, who are all smiling.
Kaeli Key delivers valedictorian remarks and thanks her fellow graduates.

Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd closed the ceremony, thanking the graduates for choosing Virginia Health Services.

“You have a bright future, and exhibited a desire to serve and be there for residents,” Rebecca said. “Long-term care is hard, but very rewarding. You develop relationships and really care for people.”

Apprenticeship program

The next Gloucester-based apprenticeship course is slated for Aug. 5-Sept. 12. Applications are open and available at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

The Peninsula-based program is underway, with graduation scheduled for Aug. 1. The next class is slated for Aug. 19-Sept. 26, and applications should open soon at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

VHS President & CEO featured in Becker’s Healthcare emerging trends article

VHS President and CEO Mark Klyczek was included in an article from Becker’s Healthcare, “From AI to Telehealth: 82 Healthcare Leaders Discuss Emerging Trends.”

Mark says value-based care and top-line revenue growth are the top two trends VHS is following, with multiple value-based care opportunities emerging in Virginia.

“Virginia has prioritized value-based care in skilled nursing facilities, which is the best way to reward high performing organizations and incentivize organizations to improve,” he says. “… These types of programs are vital to grow our top-line revenue as expense increases remain sticky and do not show any signs of improving in the short term. Our strategy of top-line revenue growth has significantly mitigated the expense increases and when our expense reduction strategies take hold, our top-line revenue will already be growing and healthy.”

Value-based care, the use of AI, veterans healthcare, staff recruitment and retention, and telehealth were other trends included in the piece.

The leaders, including Mark, will be featured speakers at the Becker’s 12th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable conference in November. Read what they all had to say here.

VHS Home Health Care & VHS Hospice introduce Director of Operations

Ariane Minette, LMSW, was recently named Director of Operations for VHS Home Health Care and VHS Hospice. The move follows the resignation of Administrator Cheri Garner-Brnich, who joined the VHS team about 10 years ago to start operation of VHS Home Health Care.

“Cheri has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of Home Health Care and Hospice; we thank her for all of her years of service and wish her the best in her next chapter,” Donna Marchant-Roof, Vice President of Home and Community-Based Services, said in an email to the organization.

About Ariane

Ariane has been a social worker on the VHS Hospice team and oversees the volunteer program. She also is a field instructor for students in master’s social work programs.

“It’s a great opportunity,” she says. “It’s a learning curve for sure, but so, so phenomenally lucky to have amazing staff on both home health — which is so established and doing a great job — and hospice.”

Ariane oversees the day-to-day operations of both service lines. She says she is big on communication and having standard operating procedures established so the team is “confident and comfortable about what we’re doing and have accountability moving forward so we can build additional relationships like the one we have with Brookdale.”

She has formed a committee to start planning the annual Celebration of Life that VHS Hospice typically hosts in November for loved ones of former patients. The event helps provide closure for those close to the individuals, including members of the hospice team.

New focus

Ariane still visits patients — “they’re my heart, my soul. That’s why we’re all here, that’s my drive,” she says. “I love touching base with my patients and seeing how all this impacts them. It’s always humbling.”

Her main focuses right now are understanding the foundation, evaluating policies and practices to see if they are the best and most efficient ways of doing things, growing census, and focus on how the team works together to be cross-sectional.

“I just want to get to know everyone better, and let them know me — be that person who’s consistent. I just want to make it easier for the team to do their job well,” she says.

While her dog Darby is a little unsure about the longer days in the office, Ariane is excited for all of the opportunities for growth the area has to offer.

“It’s a really exciting time right now, in terms of where healthcare is,” she says. “I truly, truly believe in the home aspect of home health and hospice — being where you are. It doesn’t have to feel so medicalized and pull you away from people you love. I truly believe in bringing healthcare to the home. I see how well we do it, and how well we can continue to do it, so I want to be able to get people to understand how it helps them. … I want to help the people and give them the things they need.”

Volunteer with VHS Hospice

Volunteers are the heart of what we do. VHS Hospice is looking for compassionate and thoughtful volunteers to assist those in our care, their caregivers and our team members. You’ll provide emotional support and companionship. Some responsibilities include assisting our clients with tasks such as gardening, lawn maintenance and pet care. Your duties may include providing relief to caregivers or assisting our team in the office with a variety of tasks. We provide all the necessary training.

Share your interest here.

Follow us on Facebook

Learn more about VHS Hospice and VHS Home Health Care on Facebook.

Five Virginia Health Services Communities Earn 2024 AHCA/NCAL Bronze National Quality Awards

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (June 17, 2024) – Five Virginia Health Services (VHS) communities have been recognized as 2024 recipients of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award by the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) for their commitment to improving the lives of residents through quality care. This distinction is the first of three progressive award levels through the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program. The Program honors providers across the nation that have demonstrated their dedication to enhancing the quality of care for our nation’s elders and individuals with disabilities.

The Newport, Northampton and Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, and The Hamilton and The Huntington Assisted Living communities — all under the VHS umbrella — are among the state’s 17 Bronze award recipients.

“We are proud to have The Newport, Northampton, Walter Reed, The Hamilton and The Huntington as recipients of the national Bronze award for quality. Our team is committed to providing the highest quality care possible to our residents at our nursing and rehabilitation centers and assisted living communities, and this recognizes all they do to honor that commitment,” said VHS President and CEO Mark Klyczek.

The Newport (Newport News), Northampton (Hampton) and Walter Reed (Gloucester) provide skilled and long-term nursing care with on-site rehabilitation. Walter Reed, which was recognized among Newsweek’s Best Nursing Homes for 2023 and 2024, also provides memory care.

The Hamilton (York County) and The Huntington (Newport News) Assisted Living communities provide residents with a 24/7 nursing team and support staff, and offer a comfortable living environment that includes on-site daily dining, events and activities.

The AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Program is a rigorous three-level process reviewed and evaluated by trained experts against a set of nationally recognized standards for organizational excellence. The standards of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program help organizations achieve superior performance over time to improve the quality of life and care of long-term care residents.

Providers begin the quality improvement journey at the Bronze level, where they develop an organizational profile detailing among other elements their vision, mission, key customers, and key strengths and challenges. Bronze applicants must demonstrate the use of a performance improvement system. Trained examiners review each application to determine if a center has met the demands of the criteria. As recipients of the Bronze – Commitment to Quality award, The Newport, Northampton, Walter Reed, The Hamilton and The Huntington may now move forward to the Silver – Achievement in Quality award criteria.

“Receiving this award marks the beginning of an exciting journey towards excellence,” said Cathy Bergland, AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award Board Chair. “Congratulations to the Virginia Health Services communities for this significant achievement. I encourage you to take some time to celebrate and continue striving for higher levels of quality and performance.”

The National Quality Awards will be presented during Delivering Solutions 24, the AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo, October 6-9, 2024, in Orlando, Florida.

Follow our communities on Facebook: The Newport, Northampton, Walter Reed, The Hamilton and The Huntington.


About VHS

Locally owned and headquartered in Newport News, Virginia since 1963, Virginia Health Services offers exceptional senior living and health care services. We specialize in the continuum of care from active lifestyle independent and assisted senior living communities, to skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. Our 1,000+ Team Members are passionate and committed to the well-being and quality care of our residents. Beyond our thoughtfully maintained communities located throughout the Virginia Peninsula, we offer a full range of personalized skilled health care, outpatient therapy, home care and hospice services by specially trained staff in the comfort and privacy of your home. To learn more, please visit our website at www.vahs.com.


The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 14,500 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahcancal.org.

Recruiting Roadshow returns June 24-27

Virginia Health Services recruiter Colleen Reynolds resumed her Recruiting Roadshow of our nursing and rehabilitation centers in January. The Roadshow will be quarterly, with editions in January, April, June and (tentatively) September 2024.

The Recruiting Roadshow will give applicants a chance to apply and interview in person at our locations in Newport News, Hampton, York County, Gloucester and Kilmarnock. Job candidates can see our centers and get a feel for where they are applying.

“I want to make myself more visible to team members and applicants in each building,” Colleen says.

The increased presence should better support new hires and identify team needs.


June dates:

  • York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Hamilton Assisted Living, 9 a.m.-noon Monday, June 24.
  • Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1-4 p.m. Monday, June 24.
  • James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 25.
  • The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Huntington Assisted Living, 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday, June 26.
  • Northampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, June 26.
  • Lancashire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 9 a.m.-noon Thursday, June 27.
  • Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1-4 p.m. Thursday, June 27.

How to be a successful applicant

Colleen shared ways to stand out among job applicants to Virginia Health Services. She sees hundreds of applications and conducts about 15 phone interviews a day. Make yourself standout.

“I’ll take a chance on people for a phone interview if the application looks like a professional effort was made. If you’re not making the effort in the application, hard to think you’ll put an effort into the work. Put your best foot forward to get to the interview process and sell yourself,” Colleen says.

Application tips

  • Complete all application questions.
  • Spelling and grammar should be correct.
  • Create a professional email address to use when applying. Use your correct contact information so you are reachable.
  • Have a professional resume (regardless of work history).
  • List any transferable skills
  • Be professional (avoid personal details)
  • List work experience
    • For those with limited or no work history, such as high school students, please list any part-time work experience or have an objective statement with a career goal listed. Be sure to include school and graduation date.

How to successfully interview by phone

  • Research Virginia Health Services (information is easily accessible at vahs.com). Colleen says, “Tell me why you want to work for VHS and what you know. Take the time to visit the website. I always ask, ‘why do you want to work for Virginia Health Services?’”
  • Ask questions about the job and company.
  • Read the job description so you can best speak to how your qualities and skills make you the right fit for the job to which you are applying. Talk up your skills – hard (like clinicals) or soft (such as organization and time management).
  • Be on time. Answer the phone. Give advance notice if possible to cancel. “Life happens, but keep it at a professional level at all times,” Colleen says.
  • Know your resume. Clarify when you were licensed. Colleen says, “Know your own work history and those important dates.”
  • Send a thank you message to follow up to everyone you spoke to.

How to successfully interview in person

  • Be professional.
  • Be on time.
  • Dress business casual for an in-person or virtual interview.
  • Be prepared. Know your work history.
  • Present yourself in a professional way.
  • Be prepared with questions. Ask about the position or VHS. “You have to make sure it’s a good fit for you the same as we need to make sure it’s a good fit for the company. … You have to make sure you know where you’re going,” Colleen says. (This applies to phone interviews as well.)
  • Send a thank you message to follow up.

“Everyone serves a purpose on the team,” Colleen says. “Tell me how you think you’ll fit in the organization and what you bring to the team.”

Join our team

Explore career paths with Virginia Health Services and apply online at vahs.com/careers.

Top marks for June apprentice cohort

Seven students graduated from Care Assistants to Nurse Aides during a ceremony June 6, 2024, at the EEE Center. The students — overall — had top marks in their classwork and completing clinical skills labs throughout their experience in Virginia Health Services’ earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program

The students spent nearly six weeks in the classroom and in clinical skills labs at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hampton. They learned 22 skills, took 14 tests and got hands-on experience working with patients. The apprenticeship program also covers the cost of the state certification exam to be CNAs, which they’ll take after going through review courses.

Friends, family members and VHS team members from corporate and Coliseum attended the graduation ceremony. Instructor Nora Gillespie, RN, and Director of Education Princess Henderson, BSN, RN, gave remarks as each graduate received their certificates, and they received updated name badges now that they are Nurse Aides.

The graduates before the ceremony June 6, 2024, at the EEE Center. They will join the teams at Coliseum and The Newport.

The graduates – Diamond Anthony, Jenny Broadsword, Ken Claiborne, Amauri Hicks, Essence Jones, Dania Manago and Ja’Mya Starks – will join the teams at Coliseum and The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers.

“You should be proud of the teamwork and this family you all created. You’ll be friends for a long time,” Princess said during the ceremony.

Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas and Director of Nursing Yolanda Carnegie-Chambers cheered on the graduates. They supported the students through their apprenticeship and will have six of the seven on their team.

VHS Vice President of Operations Don Lundin and Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd also shared remarks with the class. Don called the graduates who will move into CNA roles “the backbone of what we do.”

“This is a hard job. We want to support you through your professional journey,” Rebecca said. “We want to help you grow and flourish.”

The graduates

Princess said this class showed tremendous growth and bonded together to work as a team to make sure everyone got to the finish line. She and Nora showered the graduates with praise for their heart, compassion and ability to work together as a team.

Nora shared Diamond picked up everything right away. “She was eager to jump into the CNA world. She loved her residents,” Princess said.

Ken Claiborne “was like everybody’s brother. He looked out for the class,” Nora said. Princess says he is a caring person and built rapport with his residents at Coliseum.

He and Essence received certificates from Princess for excelling in clinical skills.

Essence came to class with experience in home health care, but felt she needed the training the apprentice program provides. “We’re lucky to have her on the team,” Princess said.

Amauri, the salutatorian, aspires to be a physician assistant. She is a student at Hampton University, and feels more prepared for the medical program having gone through the training.

Dania received the Champion Award from Princess, which recognizes the most improved in the class.

“She grew personally and professionally,” Princess said. “She fell in love with caring for people.”

Ja’Mya — affectionately called Jam — loved her residents and “is the type of person we want to work for VHS,” Princess said. She is in the nursing program at Norfolk State University and feels she learned so much more in the apprentice program.

“You have the strength that will carry you through to a phenomenal career,” Nora said.


Valedictorian Jenny Broadsword came into the class with healthcare experience. She excelled in class and in clinicals, Princess said. Nora added she was good at helping her classmates get through learning the skills needed to be a successful CNA.

Valedictorian Jenny Broadsword and Director of Education Princess Henderson.

In her valedictorian address, Jenny showered compliments on Nora and Princess.

“Today marks the start of a new journey. Six weeks ago we embarked on a new path with VHS. We entered this building as nervous, excited and as strangers. Today we exit as we began, with a newfound appreciation for our role as caregivers and with new friendships,” Jenny said.

“Along the way, we were guided by our amazing instructors who never hesitated to explain, demonstrate and respond to our requests. Nora and Princess, thank you for instilling in us seriousness and dignity of the caregiver. …

“With Miss Nora in our ears and Princess holding our hands, we navigated through the highs and the lows of clinicals. We walked in with our heads held high … we have gained invaluable knowledge of what it means to be a caring caregiver. As we leave here today, one thought continues to ring in our ear, ‘do it with heart and do it right’.”

Valedictorian Jenny Broadsword delivers her remarks to her peers.

Upcoming classes

The graduates will participate in review sessions before taking their state certification exams.

Applications are closed for the next class, which starts June 24 at the EEE Center. Students of the Gloucester class graduate July 9 at Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Sessions are scheduled throughout the year at both locations, and applications typically open six weeks in advance of the class start date.

Learn more at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

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