by Cindy Adams


A decade ago, Tom Rader would not have envisioned his current role. Traveling all over the country with the restaurant industry required long stays away from home and left him with little personal time. After more than 35 years, he changed careers and began work with a facilities maintenance group that managed around 100 buildings with a team of 65 people, until it was reduced to eight people who were now working 15 hours a day. He had not gained what he most wanted — a balanced life.

What he had gained, however, was a lot of business acumen, life experience, and resiliency.

But what taught him more than anything else along his 61-year path was living with Hunter, his new wife’s son with special needs. It changed him and it changed the course of his career —again.

Tom is now an assistant teacher at Roanoke Minnick School.

"I live it, so I feel like I’m pretty good with the kids," Tom said. "And my life experience seems to matter here."

When students work on skills in the kitchen or laundry room; when they serve businesses in the community; when they practice academic or personal proficiencies; or they learn patience and how to manage emotions, Tom has a lot to offer.

"At some point, you realize that life experience is meant to be shared," Tom said. "This job is not about the money. That’s not why I’m here."

Tom says he continues to learn, both from his students and his co-workers and the supportive environment is conducive to his own growth.

"Many companies profess a culture and a mission, but they don’t necessarily live them," Tom said. "Here, those statements are practiced every single day. We constantly watch for ways we can support each other. It’s like we have this unwritten code that says, 'I have your back.'"

For people who are semi-retired, Tom describes this work as the "perfect job."

"The values and the hours are hard to beat, and the atmosphere is light and friendly," he explained. "I haven’t met anyone at enCircle that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to help the person next to them. That alone makes a big difference."

Tom now lives the balance he has always wanted. He can go home at a decent hour to his wife and family, and he doesn’t work weekends. Best of all, he describes his work as rewarding.

"I’m helping these kids develop, grow and better themselves," Tom said. "They know you care. They know they can come to you. They know you love them."