a woman in purple sits at a table surrounded by smiling coworkers

In her long career, Dorothy Ellis has had a smile and warm welcome for hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals each time they passed through the doors of Brooke House, on their way to transitioning home after incarceration.

And each one has left a lasting impression on Ellis, who’s affectionately known as Ms. Dottie to residents and her fellow staff.

“For 20 years, I have learned from each individual that comes through the door,” she said. “Each one of them makes me stronger at what I do.”

A glass vase with the inscription "In recognition of Dorothy Ellis. We thank you and deeply appreciate your 20 years of dedication and commitment to CRJ and the residents of Brooke House"

On Aug. 20, Ellis got a warm welcome of her own when she walked into a surprise celebration marking her 20th anniversary at CRJ.

A calming presence in the busy program, Ellis is a fixture at Brooke House, said CRJ President and CEO John Larivee.

“Ms. Dottie has been the face and soul of our Brooke House reentry program for two decades,” Larivee said. “She brings an extremely caring demeanor to the job every day, supporting her CRJ colleagues and the residents of Brooke House. She is positive and upbeat even during challenging times, and this rubs off on everyone around here. CRJ truly appreciates her years of service and dedication, and we are all better working alongside her.”

Looking back on her time with CRJ, Ellis offered some advice: “Continue to find the best in everyone.”