Moving Up and Making an Impact

October 04, 2018


Senior Housing Manager Nyhema Thomas has made an impression on numerous communities and residents during her 15 years with Presby.

Nyhema Thomas doesn’t even have to look at a chart or a spreadsheet or at any other program on her phone or computer.

She knows the name and room number of each of the over 100 residents at Grace Court.

And she surely knows every face she sees every day.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” Nyhema explained. “If someone is walking down the hall, I know their name, whether they’re the newest person or the person who has lived here the longest.”

Nyhema is the Senior Housing Manager at Yeadon, Delaware County’s Grace Court, which features 100 units of affordable housing for those 62 and better.

“Throughout the day, even though I’m working, I make sure to make time to chit-chat with the residents, see how they’re doing and just keep an eye on them,” Nyhema said. “I get to see the residents sometimes more often than families do. I make it my goal to build a good relationship with each one of my residents here.”

Nyhema has been at Grace Court for nearly three years now. But her professional journey with Presby’s Inspired Life began almost 15 years ago when she started at the now-closed 58th Street Nursing Home in Southwest Philadelphia (Witherspoon Senior Apartments, a new Presby affordable housing complex, will open on this site at the end of 2018).

From there, she moved into Presby’s Affordable Housing ministry, working her way through various assignments before arriving at Grace Court. It was clear that Affordable Housing became Nyhema’s calling.

But still, for Nyhema, each move brought welcomed transitional challenges and opportunities for her professional career.

“One of the great things about Presby is that each community is totally different and unique in its own way,” Nyhema explained.

“I came from a full-scale nursing community to Unico Village, which was a garden-style community with one floor and multiple units. Los Jardines is much smaller with only 14 units and is a predominately Spanish-speaking community in Wilmington, Delaware. That transition was interesting with the language barriers that naturally existed, but I was able put in the hard work to learn Spanish from the residents so I could communicate and work for the residents.

“Coming to Grace Court almost three years ago was a challenge because Los Jardines was a much smaller community. We have 100 units here. And we have over 100 residents because we have a handful of couples who live here. So that move was a big transition within itself.”

Challenge accepted, and challenge accomplished.

That should come as no surprise because Nyhema has been known for her helping spirit throughout her tenure at Presby and it shows in her work and her relationships with the residents and the trust she has earned from them. They know her door is always open and they can come to her for anything.

But if you ask Nyhema, she will tell you that helping spirit has always been embedded within her.

“I just really enjoy helping people. I always have,” said Nyhema. “I don’t look at that as a hard thing to do. I’m passionate about the service I provide here to our residents. This ties into my personal ministry of taking care of those who may need assistance in taking care of what’s important to them. I enjoy that.

“The administrative work is just one piece of the puzzle to this job. Nothing compares to interacting with the residents here on a daily basis. That’s what I really enjoy. The residents, they make me laugh and they really do make the day go by more smoothly. This is a great place to work and a great environment to work in.”

Nyhema is at the helm of numerous programs at Grace Court. She is particularly proud of the meal program Grace Court has implemented in conjunction with Delaware County’s Office of Services for the Aging (COSA). You can read more on the food program and its volunteers by clicking this link.

But Grace Court has plenty more to offer.

“We have different agencies that come in and provide educational sessions to the residents,” Nyhema explained. “I think that the education piece is the biggest thing we can offer. That’s because times are changing and so many different services are offered now. It can be tough to keep up with many of them and they can be complex.

“But that educational piece is what I really like for them to have on the calendar each month. Whether it’s for Medicare or nutrition or anything else, I like for them to have that. And I like that we bring it to them. They can see it and understand it.”

As her career throughout Presby over the last almost 15 years has shown, Nyhema is not one to rest on her laurels.

She knows she has more that she wants to accomplish and more that she wants to give to the Grace Court residents.

“Personally, I want to obtain my real estate license and attend more trainings and join similar organizations,” Nyhema said.

“But for Grace Court, we’re going to bring it up to speed technologically. We’re updating our internet for everyone here. Newer residents are more tech-savvy, so we want to serve them, too.

“We are going to make sure Grace Court is the best place it can be, now and into the future.”

*Nyhema recently assumed the role of Associate Director at Presby’s 58th Street Campus, which features four Affordable Housing communities, serving more than 200 residents.