VNA of Northwest Indiana celebrates 50 years at appreciation dinner

VNA of Northwest Indiana celebrates 50 years at appreciation dinner
By: Kali Beatty Last Updated: February 5, 2020

In an organization whose mission is to take care of people in their most vulnerable moments, it’s fitting to recognize the caregivers, donors, and volunteers who make it happen. VNA of Northwest Indiana continued its year-long celebration of 50 years of service by celebrating the people who care for the community at their annual dinner Monday evening.

The VNA of NWI operates the largest not-for-profit hospice care center in Porter County, having served more than 1,400 patients last year alone. Between palliative and hospice care, Meals on Wheels, and the Phoenix Center, VNA as a whole is a community staple. Monday’s dinner was an opportunity for staff and families to gather in fellowship and celebration of what they have accomplished and what is coming in the year ahead.

VNA of Northwest Indiana Annual Dinner 2020

VNA of Northwest Indiana Annual Dinner 2020 54 Photos
VNA of Northwest Indiana Annual Dinner 2020VNA of Northwest Indiana Annual Dinner 2020VNA of Northwest Indiana Annual Dinner 2020VNA of Northwest Indiana Annual Dinner 2020

“This is one of my favorite events that we do because these are all friends and supporters of the organization who know us and truly understand the challenges that we face and overcome,” said Bob Franko, VNA of NWI President and CEO. “Tonight is about the families and people we’ve served and this is always a good chance to come together and recommit ourselves to this community and remind ourselves of the impact that we make.”

Over the past year VNA of NWI opened offices in Crown Point and La Porte, and recently unveiled their remodeled hospice center in Valparaiso to kick off their 50th year.

In addition, VNA is looking to continue to expand in the coming year.

“Sharing the message about the care the VNA provides throughout our community is so important,” said Maria Galka, Director is Development. “Families facing the terminal illness of a loved one often don’t know where to turn. We want them to know we’re here to help.”

Matt Naillieux, a 14-year volunteer with VNA of NWI, agreed that the organization is a special one. 

“My dad was in hospice eight years ago and that’s when I really got to see what the VNA does,” Naillieux said. “Their mission is all about taking care of your brothers and sisters and that’s what I live by.”

Each recipient who received an award that evening was more humble than the next, proving that VNA is truly patient-centered.

Staff recognized included:

Sara Melillo, RN - VNA Caregiver of the Year

Kayla Patton, Receptionist/Lifeline - VNA Support Staff of the Year

Kari Jennett, RN & Debra Samahon, RN- Tricia’s Good Nurse of the Year

Staff Service Awards

Missy Armstrong, Aide – 30 years

Ken Ashley, Controller – 25 years

Cindy Kaiser, Aide – 25 years

Jeanne Kokinda, RN – 15 years

Michele Krueger, Hospice Clerk - 5 years

Tricia’s Scholarship Presentations

Karina Evans, Mikayla Rosenbaum, Olivia Wood

For more information about VNA of NWI, visit them online at