2023 | December

Hope Edition

Lighting the Way:

A Year of Hope and Inspiration at Vista Maria

I hope this message finds you well, filled with the warmth and light this season brings. As we approach the end of another year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the incredible journey we have embarked upon together and share with you the inspiring points of light that have illuminated our path this year.

In March, I had the immense privilege of stepping into the role of CEO at Vista Maria. From the very beginning, I was deeply moved by the mission we share - a mission to help vulnerable youth and families believe in their worth, heal from their traumas, and build the skills they need for a brighter future. Vista Maria has long been a shining beacon of hope in the field of child welfare, and I was drawn to the opportunity to be part of this remarkable organization.

In my short time here, one word has echoed through our halls - belonging. Colleagues, old and new, have expressed their profound connection to our mission and the youth we serve. In just the past few months, we have celebrated three of our staff’s 25-year anniversaries, a true testament to the unwavering dedication of our team. They've invited us to be the light that illuminates the path for these young souls, and I am awestruck by the beautiful points of light I've witnessed.

At Vista Maria, we serve as a beacon of safety and hope for those who need it most. Our commitment to vulnerable youth and families strives to bring them together through family engagement and support programs, ensuring a brighter future for all involved.

One of the most inspiring moments of my time at Vista Maria has been witnessing youth like Aspen stand before a crowd and share their stories. They have shown us that even in the face of adversity, they can have big, bold dreams for the future. We have helped them kindle the internal flame that will guide them towards their goals.

Through programs like DREAM, the Vista Maria Alumni scholarship, and our Journey to Success after-school programs, we empower these incredible young people to light their own way forward and, in turn, share their light with others. The power of education and the determination of these young individuals remind us all of the potential that lies within every child.

The festive season brings the beloved Wish List program, where our generous "elf" donors brighten the holidays for a child who may have never experienced the joy of a Christmas before. You, our fearless supporters, ignite a spark of individual worth in each child that will remain in their hearts forever.

As we approach the end of this year, I encourage you to be a part of this incredible journey. Together, we can continue to light the path from darkness to light for the vulnerable youth and families we serve. Your support can make a profound difference in the lives of those who need it most.

Wishing you a joyful and peaceful holiday season, filled with the light of hope and love.


Megan Zambiasi, MA, MBA

Chief Executive Officer

Client Spotlight: Aspen

"I want to attend Michigan State University to study Political Science. Then I want to go to Harvard Law School to be a prosecuting attorney because I really want to help kids like me and fight for women’s rights. After becoming a successful attorney, I want to be president of the United States. I intend to do that by standing by what I believe in."

Connecting Past and Present:

Vista Maria's Pilgrimage to the Heart of the

Good Shepherd Mission

Over the years, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd have crafted a special pilgrimage experience for our dedicated lay partners in our shared mission. This weeklong journey is a deep dive into the inspiring life and history of Vista Maria’s foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia, and the events that led to the establishment of the Sisters of Good Shepherd. Participants travel to Angers, France, where they reside at the historic motherhouse of our congregation.

Reflecting on her experience arriving at the motherhouse, Megan recalled, “As we walked through the doors, we all received warm hugs and smiles despite the language barrier. Tears came to my eyes as I received an embrace from a tiny French sister; I literally felt as if, somehow, she had been waiting for me, knowing I was tired from my journey and needed rest. I imagined that was how girls and women must have felt so many years ago as they finally arrived at this refuge.”

After a warm welcome at the motherhouse, our Vista Maria pilgrims spent a week at the motherhouse in Angers, focused on deeply understanding the life and mission of St. Mary Euphrasia, all while taking moments for prayer, reflection, and fellowship. They also spent time learning about the region’s history and exploring the island where St. Mary Euphrasia spent her early years.

This pilgrimage is designed to nurture the development of mission leaders, fostering their effectiveness and a profound sense of unity within our global community of Good Shepherd mission partners. It is a testament to the enduring legacy of St. Mary Euphrasia, and we look forward to many more years of shared growth, reflection, and fellowship in her honor.

Therapy Dogs at Vista Maria:

Bringing Comfort and Joy

At Vista Maria, every weekend brings wagging tails, furry cuddles, and boundless joy, thanks to the volunteers from the Fur Angels and the Go Team Therapy Dogs of Metro Detroit/Michigan.

These four-legged heroes are masters of the art of “pawsitive” vibes, providing comfort in a world that often feels uncertain for youth in the foster care system. For kids who miss their pets back home, these visits are like a reassuring hug from their furry friends. It’s not just a happy distraction; it’s a canine-human bond that radiates care and understanding.

The benefits are clear, and we can see it in the smiles of our youth and staff alike. Therapy dogs offer more than a momentary escape – they provide a sense of comfort that lingers long after their visit. It’s that physical contact with another living creature, the gentle paw on your hand, or the affectionate nuzzle, that has an enduring impact.

Our youth eagerly await these weekly visits, and our staff shares in their joy. At Vista Maria, we understand the profound benefits of connecting with a pet, and we’re grateful for the fur-filled love and happiness these therapy dogs bring to our campus.


Centering our Support Around Those We Serve

Serving vulnerable young people and their families, our Wraparound program provides practical and compassionate assistance to help them make positive changes, which can ultimately transform their lives. Be it academic support, professional development, emotional or behavioral counseling, or financial aid, every family creates unique goals that fit their needs … and our team steps in to help them achieve. 

When Azha came to Vista Maria, she was a state ward placed in our residential program, who we successfully paired with a foster parent. However, years later, we crossed paths once more. Because Azha had transferred schools multiple times before finding her forever home, she wasn’t going to graduate on time. But with help from the Wraparound program, she did exactly that – learning essential academic, vocational, and life skills in the process. Today, Azha has her high school diploma and has gone on to enlist in the United States Marines. And we couldn’t be more proud of her.

At 19 years old, Keyton was referred to us by Vista Meadows Academy, the charter school on our campus. At the time, he was struggling with acute mental health issues and autism spectrum disorder, and his teachers were concerned about his educational progress. Upon enrolling in the Wraparound program, Keyton created goals to obtain part-time employment, apply to community college, and increase his self-esteem and social skills. And with help from our team, he accomplished each one. To date, Keyton has a part-time job at a Goodwill store, is studying graphic design at Henry Ford Community College, and has seen continuous improvements in his mental health. And even though he’s moved on, he still keeps in touch. 

Like a handful of our youth, Shamariona needed support to graduate on time, which was something not many people thought was possible. However, with help from her dedicated Wraparound team, she received passing grades and earned her high school diploma! She’s now attending Oakland Community College while working a part-time job. 

In our highly customized Wraparound program, team members are visionary in their approach and unrelenting in their quest to provide the best care and support for youth and families. And your generous gift could help them write another success story. To learn more, please visit VistaMaria.org

Light the Path to a Brighter Tomorrow

Last month, you received this card from us. We hope you consider making a gift!

Hope is the best gift you could give to the children we serve. Hope that they will be reunited with their families. Hope that they will find a loving home. Hope that they will have a future filled with opportunity.

You have the power to give this special gift.

Vista Maria’s programs empower young people and families through foster care, human trafficking survivor healing, mental health treatment, and transitional living services. Your gift illuminates the path from the darkness of trauma to a future bright with possibilities. We invite you to be the light for these children and families, so they can have a brighter tomorrow.

Give Hope Today

Igniting Dreams:

Vista Maria's DREAM Program Empowers Youth through College Tours

Every year, Vista Maria's DREAM (Dreams Realized through Education And Mentoring) program offers an exciting opportunity for our youth to explore the world of higher education by organizing a series of tours at local universities and community colleges.

Each tour introduces them to a variety of post-secondary education options, with our dedicated DREAM staff and education specialists on hand to answer questions and offer support.

These college tours are more than just field trips; they are significant life events that spark curiosity and passion about higher education and foster a sense of identity as future college students.

With support from the Conrad Hilton Foundation, this summer, our students visited Madonna University, U of M Dearborn, Wayne State, Henry Ford College, and Eastern Michigan University. We are deeply grateful to these institutions for their warm hospitality and for helping to empower our youth to engage in conversations about their college options. 

Vista Maria's DREAM program isn't just about dreaming; it's about turning those dreams into reality, one college tour at a time.

Vista Maria Leadership

Executive Committee of the Board

  • Gregory Spinazze, President & Partner, Wealth Strategy Partners (Board Chair)
  • Donna England, Retired, Chief Accounting Officer, DTE (Vice Chair)
  • Russell Agosta, Retired Partner, Grant Thornton LLP (Treasurer)
  • Carol Taylor, Retired, Amerisure Insurance (Secretary)
  • Harold Dubrowsky, Financial Consultant (Member-at-Large)
  • James Bernacki, Senior Vice President, Comerica Bank (Past Board Chair)

Board of Directors

  • Beth Rose, Chief Compliance, Ethics, and Integrity Officer, Ford Motor Company
  • Elizabeth James, Supply Chain Professional
  • Jayashree Ishwar, Retired, Former Chief Underwriting Officer, Amerisure Insurance
  • Jeffrey Sokolowski, Senior VP & Director of Permanent Services, Robert Half International
  • Joanne Finnorn, Retired, Senior Vice President Investor Relations, Sustainability & Corporate Secretary, Superior Industries Int’l, Inc.
  • Mary Williams, Senior Account Executive, Insurance Exchange Agency
  • Rebecca Merriman, Partner, Grant Thornton LLPRhonda Davenport-Johnson, EVP & Director Retail and Small Business, Comerica Bank
  • Shannon Quinn, Vice President, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer, Cooper Standard
  • Tony Hollamon, Executive Vice President, Epitec, Inc

Executive Leadership:

  • Megan Zambiasi, Chief Executive Officer
  • Meredith Reese, Chief Operating Officer
  • Kathy Regan, Chief Financial Officer
  • Mary Vogt, Chief Development Officer
  • Kelly Small, President of Vista Affordable Housing
  • Amy Scurlock, Director of Human Resources
  • Dawn Ames, Executive Director, Michigan Abolitionist Project
  • Rachael Druyor, Director of Quality
Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  YouTube