It is easy for Tom Sturges to remember when he first became involved with teli. At that time, 43 years ago, St Peter’s Child Development Center was providing support to two to five year olds and his first son had just been born. Tom was working as civil engineer for a family owned company, Pennsylvania Drilling Company in Imperial PA. “A colleague approached me and described St Peter’s mission and the need. He suggested that my life was in a good place and I should think about a way to give back,” remembers Tom. “It was the right time for me and St Peter’s was the right place!”
Since that time in 1973 when Tom joined the board, a great deal has changed in the care of children with developmental delays. There were changes in terms of when to begin Early Intervention Services as well as the way to deliver those services. “Early Childhood Education Research began to point toward the value of providing children with developmental delays early intervention services at much earlier age,” reflects Tom. “A child’s ability to “catch up” to their normally developing peers was astounding when providing children early intervention services in the first year after birth.”
Along with this philosophy change, funding changes transformed the delivery of the services. “We used to have 6 centers throughout the Pittsburgh area to deliver the occupational, physical and speech therapy. Funding shifted as well as the way services were delivered,” notes Tom. “Our Early Intervention Services team was now providing home based services to the children in need. It helped to provide families in a convenient and comfortable home environment for their child to receive care.”
Through all the years of change, the one thing that Tom feels most proud of when he speaks of teli is the devotion and commitment of the staff to teli and to the families and children in their care.” I am always amazed when I spend time with the staff or have a parent speak to us, about how teli had made a difference in their life as well as their child’s,” says Tom. “They go above and beyond to help families become advocates for their children. And the patience they have with each child is amazing. I can honestly tell you that what they are doing can help a child reach their true potential!”
So why did Tom remain on the board for so many years? “I guess I always felt like there was some way I could help out along the way. I served as the Board President as well as chair of the Finance Committee and there was always a lot of work to be done!” Becky DiLettuso, teli’s Executive Director, describes Tom’s presence on the board as an enormous stabilizing force.” Tom is calm and thoughtful and always has provided a business oversight informed by our mission. When we had tough decisions to make at teli, we could rely on Tom to provide an insightful reality based point of view,” remarks Becky. “We are going to miss him!”
Now after 43 years, Tom has decided to retire from the teli board. Tom still enjoys working a few days a week at that same company he joined in the 70’s, Pennsylvania Drilling Company, where his son is now the president. And as Tom says “I help him out when he needs me.” Additionally, Tom serves as a Trustee for both the Brentwood Bank and the Kiski School.
But while Tom may be stepping away from the teli board, he is not going far. In May, the title of Emeritus Trustee was bestowed upon him to express the enormous THANK YOU for his 43 years of service to teli. Maybe, just maybe, there might be an opening for teli, much like his son, to call on him for some help every now and then!