Cathy Brownfield

Things change. People change. Faces change. I have heard that change is the only thing that is consistent in life. Changes may be bad, risky, negative. But they also can become good, healthy and positive again. I do not know how my supervisor at FRC is going to feel about this column, but being the sentimental person that I am … I am an introvert. I write much better than I speak. And I write from the heart. So, maybe Eloise will be OK with these words.


In 1994, I was named editor of the social pages of the Salem News. When another agency in the county let go of their space because their publicist retired, I approached Eloise Traina at Family Recovery Center and asked if she would like that space. She does not waste any time. She jumped on it.

In 1999, family interests prompted me to resign at the Salem News. I loved the people I worked with. But I saw some problems at home that I felt then, and still believe now, only I, as Mom, could resolve. In March of 2000, Eloise hired me as publicist at the agency. I worked from my home so it was a pretty good fit for me. At the time I told her I wouldn’t stay longer than 10 years or when she retired, whichever came first. I had other irons in the fire that I wanted to pursue. I still do.

I wasn’t there very long when I felt overwhelmed. I went to her and said I might not be the right fit for FRC. I gave her my letter of resignation. She handed it back to me and said something about giving myself a chance. So, here we are 23 years and eight months later. She retired once, but a few months later was back in the CEO’s seat. I stuck around.

All these years have seen ups and downs for everyone. Forgive me if I focus on hers and mine. She was there to keep me encouraged as I finished college 2007 – 2009. She was there when my father died that year, and through my mother’s bout with Alzheimer’s and her passing in 2011. As various crises came up, she was in my corner. I really needed someone during those challenges.


The diagnosis of dementia for her husband a few years ago was a shock. But I offered her the wisdom I had gained when it was my mother. I kept in touch with her, let her know I was there if she needed someone just to listen. She did not understand why some people in her circle never asked about how Michael was doing, how was she doing. I offered my own spin on that: In difficult times, I hesitate to ask because I am aware of the emotional suffering people are going through, that they will share with me if they want me to know. From this conversation I learned that my holding back is not always the right thing. So, from time to time, I asked how each of them was doing.

She still misses her life mate.

Eloise has officially retired. Beginning tomorrow (Nov. 1) someone else will be settling in as the CEO. I liked Jim Stitt the minute he walked into the place. He is a former school administrator in Mahoning County. He has enthusiasm and energy, a team leader for the Education Department. I know he is going to do a great job at Family Recovery Center.

I stopped to see her today. The personal items that she had in her office were no longer there. I don’t know if I have ever seen so little covering her desk in the middle of the day this last day as chief executive officer of Family Recovery Center. We talked about things. She asked about my family. We laughed. I hugged her. Funny enough, I didn’t cry until now. She has been an amazing mentor for me. I have told her that I won’t be long behind her, though; that I don’t think I can break in another supervisor. But Jim is a good guy. We might be able to work something out.

Eloise said she asked Jim to be kind to me. And that surprised me. People are so distant from each other today that I don’t always feel like people are kind. Many simply tolerate the people they have no choice in interacting with.

I can tell you that what Eloise has built up was accomplished with a lot of help. But it has been a labor of love because she cares about families. Why else would she have pushed for the name, Family Recovery Center. She has run a tight ship, has been a good steward of the funding the agency has received. When she started out there were only a couple of employees. The education department alone has developed into the largest in the state of Ohio, covering Columbiana and Jefferson counties.

I couldn’t say goodbye. I don’t want to lose touch. But I surely do wish her well. She is not planning to sit in a rocking chair! And, neither am I.

Welcome aboard, Jim.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email Visit the website at You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.