By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Upon entering the physical therapy room at Madison Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, this writer noticed a jigsaw puzzle lying on a round table. The puzzle had almost been completed. Summer Croft, the facility’s physical therapist, helps put the pieces together for the center’s residents and outpatients.
This writer knows personally how good Summer is at her job. She was his physical therapist while he recovered from a heart attack in December and visited the facility as an outpatient. She worked him strenuously but had a congenial attitude, as she handled not only the writer but other patients as well. That congenial personality helped her be named Employee of the Quarter out of over 300 employees for the company she works with.
Summer, who is modest and demure, does not like to boast. During the interview, she reveals that she and the occupational therapist, Patty Hamilton, dream about opening their own hippotherapy clinic.
“With hippotherapy I can combine my love of three of my favorite things,” Summer says, “My love of children and horses, along with my desire to help people improve their functional mobility. I want to make a difference in someone’s life for the good.”
Summer, who lives in Perry, is married to T.J. Croft, who works for CSX. They have two little girls, Cameron, age 7, and Kelsea, who is 18 months old. She calls her daughters, “The loves of my life.”
After receiving her A.A. degree at North Florida Community College, Summer received her Bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy from Florida A&M University.
“I like people and I didn’t want to be a nurse,” she said. “I don’t like giving people shots.”
In addition to Madison Nursing Center, she has worked at facilities in Greenville, Perry and Monticello, but most of her time has been spent in Madison.
When asked what she enjoys most about her job, she says that it is the conversations she has had with the residents. “You hear all kinds of interesting things,” she says, “like the first time one saw toilet paper for the first time or about mules and wagons.”
Building trust with the people she is helping rehabilitate is essential to her job. “You get attached to everybody,” she says. “You want them to adopt you. It’s hard when they die.”
Although she is friendly, she can be tough sometimes. She has had people walk out of the room on her because they did not like something she instructed them to do.
Away from her job as a therapist, Summer attends First Assembly of God in Perry and enjoys spending time with her family, and her horses.
Summer used to be a barrel racer and a team roper. She won several saddles as year-end awards for her riding.
“My daddy has always been involved in team roping. It was something we did every weekend. It’s something I would like to do, but I no longer have time to do,” she says with a wistful look in her eyes.