After 40 years serving older adults, Lee Osterberg, Regional Director of Operations, says that he can’t tell where PHS ends and he begins. “I’ve lived and breathed Presbyterian Homes my entire life, he explained. “It’s impossible for me to say what ‘My Why’ is in a specific or singular way,” he said.
Lee began when he was a teenager working weekends at Johanna Shores washing dishes and serving meals. He continued to work throughout his college years and then joined the staff full time, serving as a cook, Dining Services Supervisor and Culinary Director. Growing with the organization gave him the skills and experience he needed to be named Campus Administrator at Beacon Hill and eventually to serve at the home office in a regional management role.
Lee is clear about why he’s here and why he stays. “For me it’s about people, service and values,” he says. These three qualities have carried him from Day 1 to today.
“Number one: people are the most important part of my life,” he explains. “I have appreciated my coworkers, trusted leaders and wonderful mentors along my journey,” he said. At Johanna Shores, Lee met his wife Caryn who now serves with Optage Senior Dining Services. In their 30 years together they have remained with PHS and their two children held their first jobs at Johanna Shores. “My kids grew up feeling like PHS leaders were their family,” he remembers. Lee’s mother volunteered there for several years and both his parents lived at EagleCrest. Lee has made lifelong friends among PHS residents, staff and their families. “For me, it is always people first,” he said.
Lee’s second reason is the opportunity to serve. “Serving others is very gratifying to me; it’s my purpose here,” he said. Through PHS, he is able to serve older adults, their families and the greater community while providing him opportunities to grow both professionally and spiritually. “It’s always been a meaningful ministry for me and I know what we do positively affects the people we serve. I know it has and is making a big impact on me and who I’ve become,” he said.
The PHS values and its Christian culture are the third reason Lee offers his best in his work. “When we make important decisions at PHS, we always keep the customers’ best interest in mind, we always seek to reflect the love of God and to serve with compassion,” he said. Across four decades he has seen this quality remain constant. “We care about each other. Whether people are happy or hurting, we all share it together. We pray for one another,” he said.
Across the years, Lee’s range of experience, from the close-in work as a server to the complex multi-point responsibilities of a leader, has given him a rich perspective about the organization, it’s people and, most of all, himself. But he has never lost sight of what is most important – the residents. “I have great connections with residents and families,” he said. When he visits PHS communities he always sees familiar faces. “I make a personal point to talk to residents. They make me better at my work by sharing their views and keeping me grounded about why we’re here,” he said.
The people, service and values of PHS have shaped who Lee is and why he is part of this ministry. Above all, he says, “Every day and every place, it’s always about the residents, and it’s always wonderful!”
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