Employee Spotlights

Johanna’s story of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (Part 1)



Picture of CNA, Johanna Fenton who is in her nursing attire.

We conclude National Nursing Assistants Week with an introduction to Johanna’s story. In this new series, witness her journey to become a Certified Nursing Assistant with Presbyterian Homes & Services.

By Johanna Fenton, Communication Specialist and Certified Nursing Assistant

“Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it.” —Matthew 7:13–14, CEV

To me, becoming a Nursing Assistant at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) was like entering the narrow gate. It took me a long time to get here; but once I started, it gave me new life.

Twenty years ago, I had other life plans. I committed to help the cause of translating the Bible into new languages. So, I trained as a linguist and lived as a missionary in Papua New Guinea — an island country just north of Australia. Later, I returned to the States and continued to help through writing, research and innovation.

Then, a few years ago, life changed drastically. I became divorced and, for 18 months, I stumbled through temporary living arrangements with my two children, and without a job.

Searching for a job and housing was overwhelming. Without a place to call home, I felt uncertain where to look for a job. And without a job, I couldn’t afford housing.
Perhaps my greatest challenge was spiritual: identifying a new ministry calling in Minnesota.

Eighteen months in, I surrendered and placed all my faith in the prayers of God’s people. Within days, I met a pastor while sitting in a coffee shop. He listened to my story and invited me to the church’s evening prayer service.

That night I stepped up, shared my heart and testimony, and asked for prayer from the congregation. Little did I know that Dan Lindh, CEO of PHS, was there, listening and praying.

A week later, I received a phone call from PHS Recruiting. Taking this as God’s miraculous answer, I applied, interviewed and accepted my role as a Resident Assistant in assisted living.

On the same day that I started at PHS, I also gained keys to my own home – a cute “tiny house,” also known as a mobile home. 😊 How? With papers showing proof of my employment.

I’m forever grateful to PHS for helping meet my family’s needs and giving me purpose. Now it’s my absolute pleasure to pour on the love when I care for residents.

​Watch: ‘Build my skills and confidence’

We will hear more from Johanna in coming weeks about her journey as a Certified Nursing Assistant and the PHS OnTrack training program.

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