A Dedication to Others


Twenty years ago, Steve and Salena Hitchens lived a starkly different life than they live today.

Steve, who worked in nursing home administration, struggled to support their family as Salena finished nursing school. One day, however, they took a great leap of faith that would forever change their lives – Steve quit his job and together they started an on-the-road therapy company called TheraTrust. They hoped to make enough money from this endeavor to eventually open a nursing home.

“We wanted to build nursing homes that encourage family members to come into the buildings,” Steve explained. “We wanted our patients treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

After just one year, TheraTrust generated enough income for the Hitchenses to purchase their first nursing home and launch Autumn Health Care. They purchased a deteriorating nursing home that had just 15 out of 50 beds filled, and they promptly tore it down to start from scratch. Once construction was completed, the facility went to 100% occupied and remained that way for the next 18 years.

Before they even finished construction on the first facility, the Hitchenses purchased a second building to rehab. Eventually, Autumn Health Care grew to include 10 facilities with 1,000 employees. The Hitchenses attributed much of the success to their focus on improving quality care and incorporating patients’ families. They even added playgrounds to encourage grandkids to visit, as well as ice cream shops and movie theaters.

“In our last year of business, three of the 10 Autumn Health Care facilities ranked in the top 20 for customer satisfaction in the State of Ohio,” Steve said.

Over the years, as Steve and Salena’s business flourished, their personal goals and priorities grew and changed. Their success allowed them to give back to their community in ways they never thought possible, including providing significant support for Newark Catholic High School, where their youngest child currently attends.

“Steve and Salena Hitchens have never hesitated to silently assist whenever there has been a need in our community,” said Beth Hill, Principal of Newark Catholic High School. “From attending our weekly Family Rosary in the Newark Catholic Chapel, to making wreaths on behalf of a family in need, or giving a substantial donation for tuition assistance, they have shown great support for others.”

In early 2015, the couple made the decision to sell both TheraTrust and Autumn Health Care in order to focus on the next chapter in their lives. Soon after, the couple approached The Catholic Foundation about using some of the earnings to give back to the Newark Catholic community at an even greater level.

“What will we do with all of the money?” Salena said. “We secured the futures for our children, we give to the church, we help others anonymously… we can’t leave this all to our kids, they don’t need it.”

The couple decided to intertwine their passion for healthcare with their loyalty to Newark Catholic High School. They created the Steven L. and Salena A. Hitchens Scholarship Fund, which awards 2 full scholarships per year to graduates of Newark Catholic High School who are pursuing an LPN or RN degree.

“We were very fortunate to be successful in business,” Steve said. “We want to afford others who are in the position we started in the same opportunity. It was a major struggle to get funding for Salena to go to nursing school, and we want to help others accomplish what she did.”

“And Newark Catholic helped raise our child, they helped with the foundation of a good education,” he added.

Steve and Salena Hitchens, who started out struggling and not knowing where the next dollar would come from, are now blessed to be in the position of helping other struggling individuals through this scholarship fund. And, according to Steve, this is just the start of the great plans they have for ‘retirement’.

Professional Advisor Choice Program

Steve and Salena Hitchens had a long-standing relationship with their financial advisor at Park National Bank. When they opened the Steven L. and Salena A. Hitchens Scholarship Fund, they didn’t want their advisor to suffer by transferring the assets. Thanks to The Catholic Foundation’s new Professional Advisor Choice Program, their financial advisor was able to continue to manage the assets while still allowing the Hitchens family to set up the fund at The Catholic Foundation.

We’d love to talk to you about how The Catholic Foundation can help you meet your charitable goals while maintaining your relationship with your financial advisor. For more information on the Professional Advisor Choice Program, please contact Tiffiney Hatem at 866-298-8893 or thatem@catholic-foundation.org.

Read the complete issue of Blessings here!