New YSU Scholarship Fund Honors Briarfield Caregivers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For the 3½ years that Frank and Norma Watson were residents at Briarfield Manor in Austintown, they never complained or made any situation about themselves, recalled Diane Reese. Instead, they would turn their attention towards asking how others were doing, even as their health declined.

“While Frank and Norma Watson touched our employees lives, our employees also made a difference in theirs,” said Reese, president of EDM Management Inc., which operates Briarfield Healthcare. “Whether it was a smile, a warm greeting, or a much needed helping hand, our staff made a difference.”

The Watsons were longtime supporters of Youngstown State University and have made several significant donations to the university, including the Watson and Tressel Training Site and for a new Student Success Center on campus.

To honor the Watsons, Reese, along with her husband, Ed, and the Watson’s daughters, Ellen Tressel and Janet Stephens, gifted $200,000 to establish the Watson-Reese Briarfield Scholarship.

Stephens and Tressel are both YSU graduates and Tressel is the wife of YSU’s president, Jim Tressel.

On Feb. 20, the YSU Foundation and Briarfield announced the new scholarship at Briarfield Manor in recognition and appreciation of the caregivers there.

“Our employees are truly difference makers,” Reese said. “It is our family’s intention with this matching gift to now be difference makers to our employees and their families.”

The scholarship can benefit caregivers and their family members at Briarfield Manor and its affiliated Briarfield locations, who are enrolled full- or part-time at YSU.

“Every day that my sister Jan and I came in here, we witnessed how wonderful you all were,” Ellen Tressel said to the caregivers who attended the scholarship announcement. “We saw your care, your dedication, your love and your concern for both of them and we are so appreciative of that.”

The scholarship will award $8,000 from the fund annually starting in the fall of 2020. Recipients will be selected by the Briarfield scholarship committee and the YSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships in conjunction with the YSU Foundation.

“This scholarship opportunity is a three part win,” Ellen Tressel said. “It’s a win for us because it’s a way for us to say, ‘thank you.’ Secondly, for the Reese family because it’s a way for them to award their quality employees. And thirdly, it’s a way for all of you and your family members to be the best you can be.”

When asked what Frank and Norma would think of the scholarship if they were here today, she said they’d “love it.”

“It’s exciting to think about the opportunity that these front-line caregivers can have to go and further their education or their children to do so,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “To have this scholarship opportunity, I pray it gets put to extraordinary use and continues to grow.”

Jenn Kluchar, director of nursing for Briarfield, said her daughter, Karlee, is a freshman at YSU studying exercise science and will be applying for the scholarship.

“Karlee is so driven and this would be an amazing opportunity for her to continue her education,” she said.

Kluchar noted that her daughter wants to attend YSU’s physical therapy program and she will be shadowing therapists at Briarfield as part of her studies.

“The work that we do here is truly a labor of love. When you are a nurse, a physical therapist, an STNA, it’s a calling. It’s not a job,” she said. “This scholarship is going to be an amazing opportunity for all of our employees and their children.”

Pictured: Ed and Diane Reese of EDM Management Inc. stand next to a photo of Norma and Frank Watson, along with Ellen and YSU President Jim Tressel.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.