Lisa Villaneuve has been a part of Vanderheyden in so many ways, that it's only appropriate that she is on the agency's 185th Anniversary Committee.
The Troy native was a resident of Vanderheyden's main campus on Spring Avenue for a short period in the early 1970's, where she was part of the "Delta" girls.
"The experiences I had there, later contributed to my decision to go into human service," Lisa said.
She said her memories of the Spring Avenue buildings were of the beautiful chapel, and a gathering place for residents called "The Canteen."
"The room had a jukebox, where the residents could dance, and went to socialize after dinner and the weekends," Lisa said.
The room was located in the basement of Vanderheyden's Bessey Home, which is the only building to survive the fire of 1981.
After graduating from Catholic Central High School in Troy, Lisa continued her education at Hudson Valley Community College and SUNY Empire State Plaza, where she received a degree in Human Services, with a concentration in Community Services.
After working at the Times Record newspaper in Troy, Lisa decided to go into human services, and was hired at Vanderheyden by her long-time mentor, the late Deion Pettys.
Lisa started her career at our agency as a Direct Care Worker in the Diagnostic Unit. She also was an Assistant Manager and Manager of a campus cottage, before she was promoted to the Coordinator of the female units, before becoming the Director of RTC.
In 2010, Lisa became Manager of our Huntley Road Group Home, and three years later, she was the coordinator of Day Hab, a program that helps individuals develop employment skills by being part of the community.
"Just a wonderful experience," Lisa said. "I was able to see Vanderheyden giving back to the community each day."
Recently, Lisa was named Assistant Director of Quality Assurance, Quality Improvement. (QAQI) In her new position, Lisa will be investigating cases within the agency, and strives to make the process more inviting for residents and other departments.
As part of Vanderheyden's 185th Anniversary in 2018, Lisa is busy with organizing, categorizing, and "making sense" of Vanderheyden's history. She is busy sorting through four filing cabinets filled with historical documents, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
The individuals Lisa has worked with through the years, are very special to her. She also enjoyed having long-term relationships with our individuals, and working with them in their homes.
"I was able to see seeds that you planted bloom over their lifetime, and see their successes," she said.
Lisa said there are so many positives about working at Vanderheyden besides a wonderful benefits package.
"I've always had supervisors and Team Members that fully supported me through the good and the bad times," Lisa said. "Through family celebrations, marriage, and grandchildren, through a loss, an illness, or medical issues."
Lisa also met her husband David here at Vanderheyden, when he was the Supervisor of Recreation.
In her free time, Lisa loves spending time with her husband, her daughter and two grandchildren.
She also likes oldies music from the 1950's to the 1970's, and loves to shop for the bargains at discount stores.
Other loves include taking long drives in the countryside in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, and visiting her favorites beaches at the ocean in New Hampshire and Maine.
Lisa would like to share her reflection on her Vanderheyden experience with all:
"As I look back at my life, Vanderheyden has influenced me in so many ways. From the time I entered the castle-like building in 1972, until today as I pull onto the campus, meaningful lessons and knowledge gained, live within me."
"I have walked in the shoes of many roles and feel grateful for each and every milestone. I have worked with and learned so much from many wonderful staff, residents, and participants."
"I am thankful for and embrace the many memories I have. My experiences have been fulfilling and rewarding! Vanderheyden can make a difference. It did for me, and I feel very blessed."