FY22 Annual Report: Our people are our biggest asset

Meet Saron, a Youth Counselor in Mason City

Saron Sutton has been a Four Oaks Youth Counselor at the Mason City Psychiatric Medical Institute for Children (PMIC) for 25 years. On a daily basis, he works with kids, ages 10-16, and makes sure that their needs are being met.

Before joining the Four Oaks team, Saron had experience working with kids as a baseball coach for both T-ball and little league. He had thought about becoming a teacher and since working at Four Oaks, he believes that he has become a teacher, just not in a traditional classroom setting. Saron helps kids learn practical skills such as tying their shoes and making their beds, but he also shows them how to manage anger, problem-solve, and how to plan for their futures. “The life skills are really important for them.” He says that his job involves teaching kids, “Anything you can think of.”

Saron recently won the Coalition for Family and Children’s Services in Iowa 2021 Childcare Worker of the Year Award. Because of the pandemic, Saron explained that things happened a little differently than they usually do. His supervisor and some of his coworkers told him that he had won, and brought him gifts. The ceremony was held on Zoom.

Saron says, “It’s never really been hard for me… each kid brings something new. I enjoy what I do. I’ve really had to learn how to be patient. Each day is kind of the same, but also not.” He also says, “When things are going well, I get paid to have fun with kids.”

In his free time, Saron enjoys spending time with his wife and outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and golf.

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