Executive director, Kathy Strong, poses for a photo. Kathy Strong
Executive Director

Kathy has been a part of Nacogdoches Treatment Center since it began in 1972. Her mother was the Center's first executive director. When she retired in 1996, Kathy took over the position, but it wasn't a straight path to the job. Raised to be a person of service, Kathy received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1980. She was a special education teacher for six years before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her two children. The urge to serve came calling, though, and soon Kathy was hired as Executive Director of an apartment complex for adults with disabilities. With news of her mother's retirement, the Treatment Center's board asked Kathy to apply for the vacant position. She was hired in December of 1996 and the next month, the Alzheimer’s Day Activity Program began.

Kathy's love for the program continues to echo through her every day. She says of the work, "What we do everyday matters to those who need us. We get to provide a safe, loving and stimulating environment for individuals with dementia. They live in a world of confusion, uncertainty and frustration. It is such a wonderful feeling to see them have a group to belong too, people that become friends and to watch them do activities and feel successful! I believe we all need a group to belong to and somewhere where we feel that we have self-worth. That’s what we provide here at NTC."

Kathy and her high school sweetheart, Terry, have been married since 1979. They have two children, Lindsey and Aaron, and four precious grandchildren. Kathy is a member of numerous organizations and committees that focus on those with disabilities, and she is continually searching for programs and services that will better the lives of caregivers and clients. Her door is always open and her phone always on!

Program director, Sandy Fortenberry, poses for a photo.Sandy Fortenberry
Program Director & Dementia Specialist

Sandy is a Nationally-Certified Activity Directory with 33 years of experience under her belt, most of which has come at Nacogdoches Treatment Center. Sandy's experience begins in Lufkin where she first volunteered at a local nursing home. It didn't take her long to join the staff and soon, she was attending Angelina College and obtaining her certificate for activity director. Sandy grabbed every opportunity to train as a dementia specialist, work that paid off when she was asked to start an Alzheimer's unit at Sunrise Healthcare. Her next step was assembling a training manual for the local Alzheimer's Association chapter to teach local caregivers and facilities the best possible way to provide care to those with dementia. The work was rewarding, yet Sandy missed interacting with the people she so dearly loved. She returned to the nursing home, but God quickly made new plans for her. When an opportunity to run the activity program at Nacogdoches Treatment Center came knocking in 2000, Sandy jumped at the chance.

Sandy's goal as the Center's Program Director is to make each day fun but more importantly, to allow the Center's clients to be who they are, right now. The smiles, laughs and conversations that come from each day have led to decades worth of memories. Some of the fondest ones come during the annual Christmas Bazaar. "Our annual fundraiser is like a family reunion. Families we have helped over the years come, and we talk about all the good memories we had together."

An Army brat by birth, Sandy has lived in many places, including Germany as a child. The Pineywoods of East Texas, though, are where Sandy and her husband, Teddy, have called home since 1988. They share two children, Sharesa and Teddy II, as well as two pups: Maggie, a beautiful and cuddly yellow lab, and Rosco, a bouncy rescue. Sandy teaches Sunday school at Stallings Drive Church of Christ. She also sings all over the Nacogdoches-Lufkin area with two a cappella groups, the Heart of the Pines Barbershop Chorus and Brick Street Harmony Quartet.

Activities aide, Kat Avant, poses for a photo. Kat Avant
Activities Aide

Kat is the creative spirit of Nacogdoches Treatment Center. Once a city slicker, Kat first came to Nacogdoches to attend art school at Stephen F. Austin State University. She bounced around Oklahoma and Austin after graduation, but East Texas came calling once again when her parents made Nacogdoches their retirement destination. She walked through the Center's doors in April 2021 to see what the place was all about. Though no openings were available at the time, Kat knew she had found a special place. Thankfully, the position of Activities Aide opened just a month later, and Kat was home.

An expert at paper hat making, Kat spends her days at the Center making clients feel accepted, validated and stimulated through various activities, be it arts, crafts or simple conversation. It's those little moments that mean the most to her: every laugh, every hug, every smile. Though she can whistle anything (seriously, she'll accept any and all challenges), Kat is more impressed when the clients surprise her with their talents. Juggling, hula hooping, magic tricks - she's ready to see it all!

Kat's empathy for others extends to her personal life, too. She's a board member of the African American Heritage Project and a local supporter of the Pride Coalition. Her and her husband, Ronnie, have two pets, Freddie the dog and Luce the cat. Together, they enjoy hiking, cooking, making art, kayaking and partaking in a spirited game of air hockey.

Aide, Noah Waserman, poses for a photoNoah Waserman
Van Driver & Aide

Nacogdoches Treatment Center is a family affair for Noah. He was encouraged to join the team by the Center's own Executive Director, Kathy...who also happens to be his aunt. It seems her spirit to serve is a shared trait because in mid-2021, Noah happily brought his positive attitude to the Center. He now shuttles around clients, chatting away while doing everything he can to make their day easier and brighter. It's that peace of mind for families that Noah finds most rewarding. As he has come to discover, "Everyone here genuinely loves the job and the people they take care of." When Noah isn’t brightening days at the Center, you can find him playing with his two pups, Charlie and Kita. He's also a member of North Street Church of Christ.

119 Hughes St. • Nacogdoches, TX • (936) 569-7173
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