By Dan Montgomery
“Ghost” and “Pretty Woman” ruled the box office, Stephen King had two books on the bestsellers list, Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” topped the Hot 100 and Frieda King earned her first paycheck from enCircle.
That was 1990.
EnCircle had about 100 employees and a $1.6 million annual budget. The Administrative office and the first Minnick School were inside the Children’s Home of the South building (now part of Roanoke College). Besides the school, enCircle offered home-based services in Southwest Virginia and operated several group homes. Treatment Foster Care was the agency’s largest program.
King supervised payroll, accounts receivable, and human resources.
Some things have changed since then.
“In 1990, we didn’t have email at enCircle” she remembers. “Around 1995, we connected one computer to the internet.”
So everyone in Administration had to log on to that one computer to check emails? No. King printed all the emails and distributed them to desks around the office.
Today, enCircle has 360 employees and a $36 million budget supporting programs across Virginia. Every employee has email.
One thing has not changed. Freida King, enCircle’s controller and its longest-serving employee, is still the agency’s numbers whiz. (Also, Stephen King, no relation, still writes bestsellers.)
But King’s three decades at LFSVA have been about much more than keeping wayward decimals in their places, says Chief Financial Officer David Pruett.
“Freida truly has a heart for the work we do at enCircle but also has a sharp business mind,” he says. “She has a work ethic that is unrivaled by anyone with whom I have worked in my career. Her integrity is beyond reproach — her work at enCircle is guided by striving to do what is ‘right’ and what is best for our organization and those we serve.”
King has been with enCircle during good times and bad, Pruett noted, “through mergers, acquisitions, starting new programs, closing programs (unfortunately), changes in CEO and CFO, and she has continued to give her very best to our mission, every day.”
Along the way, she turned down opportunities to move to higher-paying jobs elsewhere. King has her reasons.
“The jobs I’ve had at enCircle have matched my gifts,” she says. “I live in the community where I work. I’m thankful to work with a great team. Each day is a new opportunity to learn. The work environment is flexible and family-oriented. I love the challenges.
“I’m blessed to work at one job for 30 years that I still enjoy.”
Hope to do the same? King has some tips:
- Never stop learning.
- Take one day at a time.
- Listen to understand.
- Change is part of life, so go for it.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself.
And have a life outside of work. Away from the office, King enjoys nature, especially birds, photography and an important family activity...
“My newest hobby is spoiling my grandson and granddaughter,” she says.