Meet our Team!
Lead Data Specialist with VOA for 4 years
Charlie Schletz is the Lead Data Specialist on the Veteran Services team and has been with VOA for almost four years. The VOA value Douglas connects with the most is discipline. If he had to describe VOA in three words it would be steadfast, compassionate, and seekers. Charlie is inspired by his teammate, Melanie Christian. “Melanie is not someone who praises herself or seeks recognition for her own benefit. She puts her head down and works hard and completes the task in front of her. Her commitment to learning new things is another thing that inspires me. She takes new things seriously and is willing to go out of her way to make sure she will be successful.” Charlie’s happy place is on his covered back porch, during a rainstorm with a good book and his cats.
Service Coordinator, with VOA for 1 year
Denise Matuzak is a Service Coordinator at Marycrest Village, a 57-unit low-income senior community serving the Joliet area. The VOA value Denise connects with the most is integrity. If she had to describe VOA in two words it would be passionate and service-driven. Denise’s favorite VOA moment is when, during COVID, VOA employees from all departments hosted a day of service at Hope Manor II. “I have never seen so many staff and volunteers organize so many household supplies and distribute them to residents in the community. It was a well-run operation and done with love.” Denise is a two-time is a cancer survivor and her happy place is watching a movie with her two children!
Employment Service Coordinator, with VOA for 10 years
Robert Hopper is an Employment Service Coordinator on our Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) team and has been with VOA for 10 years. If Robert had to describe VOA in three words he would say, “present, supportive and committed.” Robert believes that the work that he does has helped him in the development and reinforcement of his belief in harm reduction and seeing the process as important, if not more important, than the outcomes. Robert’s life motto is Wu wei, or Effortless Action and believes happiness comes from within.
Senior Staff Accountant, with VOA for 3 years
Douglas De Jong is the Senior Staff Accountant on the finance team and has been with VOA for almost 3 years. The VOA value Douglas connects with the most is integrity. Douglas is inspired by fellow employee Katrina and her journey from becoming a VOA client to now an employee helping fellow Veterans who are in the position she was once in. Douglas has grown both professionally and personally during his time at VOA. Douglas says, “Overall, this experience has made me much more confident in myself and my abilities and that confidence has extended to my personal life as well, where I've become comfortable simply being myself.” When not at the office, Douglas is happiest when listening to live music!
Assistant Director of Foster Care Services, with VOA for 6 years
Kyla Farquhar is the Assistant Director of Foster Care Services and is about to celebrate her 6th anniversary with VOA. When asked how Kyla has grown during her time here, she says, “I learned how to be trauma-informed and less focused on a person's behaviors, but rather where they stem from. Because of this, I have been able to form relationships not only with clients but with friends and family in a different way, simply because my position requires a high level of empathy and understanding. I enjoy being able to hear someone, offer support, and show love in a new way. Relationships are very important to me, so I would consider this growth to be invaluable.” Kyla enjoys music and has recently started taking piano lessons. Her motto is to remember to do what you love because tomorrow is not promised.
Residential Engagement Specialist, with VOA for 1 year
Milton Butler is a Residential Engagement Specialist at Hope Hall and just celebrated his 1-year anniversary with VOA. Milton is inspired by his supervisor Stephanie Eddington for her dedication to the residents they serve and also her team. If Milton could be anyone for a week, he would be superman so he could save money on gas because he would fly to work and because he loves helping people. When Milton is not at work, his happy place is at home with his kids and family. Fun fact – Milton has recorded 8 hip hop albums!
Maintenance Technician, with VOA for 8 years
Michael Anthony has been with VOA for 8 years! Michael is proud to work at VOA because s because the people at VOA genuinely care about each other personally and work together as a team. If he had to describe VOA in 3 words it would be teamwork, change, and fairness. He is inspired by the residents and loves being able to help them every day. Michael believes he has grown a lot and is moving in a great direction in life since he started working at VOA. Michael’s happy place is going fishing with his daughter and watching the water.
HR Assistant, with VOA for 1 year
Jenny is approaching her 1-year work anniversary with VOA Illinois! If she had to describe VOA in 3 words it would be hope, generosity, and aspiration. Jenny is inspired by the front line, service workers at VOA who are giving their all to help those in need. Jenny has enjoyed being able to be a part of serving so many different populations from veterans to the elderly to youth in foster care. Jenny is inspired by Vera Wang, “she pursued her passion to become a fashion designer at the age of 40. Her story shows that it is never too late to chase your dreams.”
Therapist and Parenting Coach, with VOA for 7 years
Vanessa Baie is the Therapist and Parenting coach on the Foster Care team and has been with VOA for 7 years. The VOA value Vanessa connect with the most is Faith because she believes in the individual strengths and capacity for change in all people. Vanessa’s favorite client success story is that one of her clients is working hard to have their 7 children return home to their care. This client has been successful in working toward their goals and will hopefully be reunited with their family in a few months. Vanessa says, “I have been working with this client for nearly 2 years. It has shown me the power of the therapeutic relationship and reinforced my passion for working in our clinical department.” Vanessa is a cancer survivor and says, “while this was the hardest thing I ever went through, it ignited in me a new zest for life.” Her motto is, you get what you give- so give good!
Outreach Coordinator, with VOA for 1 year
Patrick Daniels has been an Outreach Coordinator with VOA for a year. If he had to describe VOA in three words it would be; community, committed, and spiritual. The VOA value he connects with the most is integrity. Patrick demonstrates integrity in his work daily. His favorite memory was when VOA partnered with Imagine Englewood IF for a Halloween party. “A parent approached me, she stated that her son appreciated the fact that I let him use the DJ equipment to play Michael Jackson. She mentioned that her son is autistic and she had not seen him enjoy himself or engage with people in over 12 months. That story touched my heart. It lets me know that we are having an impact on the community.” His life motto is Grind Hard!
Property Manager, with VOA for 5 years
Yolanda Santiago has been with VOA for 5 years. Yolanda has held multiple roles at the organization and is currently the Property Manager at our Hope Manor I property. The VOA value she connects with the most is teamwork because the people at work who inspire her are her teammates. Her motto in life is “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken”. When Yolanda is not at Hope Manor I, her happy place is at home with her family.
Senior Property Manager, with VOA for 8 years
Elissa Besterwitch has been with VOA for 8.5 years! Elissa is proud to work at VOA because she knows she is working to serve those who are most vulnerable and she is constantly encouraged by the dedication and teamwork of her co-workers. Her goal has always been, “that Balsam Terrace & Spruce Manor would be a happy, safe, engaging place to live, inspiring the people we serve to live their best life”. Her work motto is: being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It's leadership. Elissa’s happy place is traveling with her family because it has left her with some of her most cherished memories.