FAMILY BASED CARE AND YOUTH TRANSITION
Success to me is when you have all of your goals planned out and you are fulfilling your dreams without letting anyone get in the way. With every challenge I have faced in my life, I feel that it has taken part in shaping a better me. Growing up, the challenge was tackling each day, living each day. Now, I face each day seeing how it will shape my future. For me, I would like to learn how to build a car from scratch, and one day own my own mechanic shop. When you feel that you have achieved success, you are more likely to help someone achieve their dreams too.
I have a lot of dreams, but most notably, having a family. I want to be a good dad for my future children. It is a big responsibility, but I want to teach my kids a lot of things and be a good role model for them. Good foster dads, in the past, were those who had the time to get to know their foster child, build a bond with them and help them work through their problems.
I have been at Holy Cross for 11 months. Holy Cross is different because they have helped me where other places could not. They give you a lot of support through your struggles, so you are ready for the real world. They give you the opportunity to work with others and see the struggles others are going through. Through this, you are able to look in the mirror and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and realize that you are not alone.
In the New Year, I am looking forward to the positive things that will come my way when I come out of Holy Cross, and continue the positive direction of shaping my future for the better.
PRESIDENT & CEO
My family’s story inspired me to enter the child welfare field early on in my career. What started as fact-finding to understand my family’s experience turned into my life’s work. I’ve worked directly in field, led service programs across the country, directed national-scale systems change here and internationally, and coached executives to do the same. I’ve worked in many social service systems, including in Miami, New York, Chicago, across Texas, federal child welfare, and in Cambodia. I hold a master’s degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago, an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Miami, and a variety of clinical, financial, and executive leadership certifications.
It is remarkable to me that no matter who you are, where you are, it’s relational connection that allows for safety and success. We all have that person we can point to who kept us, or got us, out of trouble. People do a lot of hard work to overcome trauma, but that recovery journey always starts with relationship. I’ve dedicated my career to building the space for that connection: helping family members heal one another, helping children and adults from hard places pursue the future they want for themselves, creating a safety net for when we stumble on the way. I am so thrilled to be a part of HCS, not just because of our incredible history and impact across Michigan, but because this team has the heart to help people find safety and strength through connection.
Joy at work: If I had to pick one thing, it’s the every-day impact. Budgets, policies, protocols, contracts, data, fundraising – every ounce of effort has a distinctly human result. I can picture how Monday will get kids home faster, how Tuesday will help staff with work-life balance, how Wednesday will get more people into a safe, warm bed at night, and so on. Every moment is so meaningful.
Joy at home: I have an incredible partner who infuses joy into everything he does. Our two boys are curious and hilarious and kind. Though my career took me all over the place, I grew up in Grand Rapids, where much of my family still resides. I am so very grateful to be back and surrounded by family.
CHIEF FACILITIES AND SAFETY OFFICER
Born in Detroit and raised in a family that was nearly all employed by the auto industry with strong Christian values. He attended the Center for Creative Studies and Oakland University, pursing a degree in Business Management, while working in the retail field, managing an office supply chain store.
Mike made a career change by entering the construction field where he found a strong interest. He owned and operated a small renovation firm while doing volunteer work at Boysville of Michigan. In 2002 he was recruited by Boysville of Michigan, now Holy Cross Services as Facilities Manager in the Metro Detroit Area. His role has evolved from daily operations to now overseeing the full agency handling all facilities aspects as the Chief Facilities and Safety Officer. He has responsibilities over all HCS locations including Samaritan Center which is the nation’s largest community center, where he serves as Board Secretary. Mike is married to his wife of 33 years and together raised two children who are now young adults with their own careers. Mike has served as Elder in the Presbyterian Church using his background in construction to support facilities needs of the church. Mike has a dedicated interest to help others, particularly through his work supporting underserved children and those struggling with addictions.
Joy at work: I find that knowing our Agency provides others with an opportunity to succeed is very rewarding. When I hear a story about one of our clients being successful in the community, it encourages us knowing that we are part of their success. These events are what drive me each day.
Joy at home: My family time is a major part of my life. Getting together with my children and grand children for a weekend camping trip or having Sunday dinner at home are events that I enjoy the most. The times that we spend together are priceless to me.
DONOR ENGAGEMENT OFFICER
Wendee’s father told her to take her passion and turn it into a career. Wendee Rex has a passion for helping others succeed and build foundations for success. She is a people connector and relationship builder. She joined Holy Cross Services in February 2022 after working extensively in the field of sales and marketing management, a career that started by accident. After graduation from Western Michigan University with a double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice, she began working for the Edison Neighborhood in Kalamazoo. It was there that she realized her desire to work in the nonprofit field of fund development and returned to Western Michigan University for her MPA. It took her awhile to rejoin the nonprofit arena professionally, but she continued her passion for serving, as volunteer for many nonprofit organizations ranging from board membership to event planner. She has been a mentor to youth and has hosted International Exchange students as a member of the Birmingham Rotary Club. Wendee brings the experience of being an adoptee, foster parent, and networker to her position at Holy Cross Services.
Joy at work: Every day at work brings me joy. I finally took my father’s advice! Watching the difference we are making in the lives of those we serve, is so fulfilling. Our HCS team is so caring and compassionate. They are always willing to go the extra mile to serve our participants.
Joy at home: I enjoy travelling and trying new restaurants. I like to cook for the masses and have been known to throw a mean tailgate party! When not spending time with her foster son or family, her favorite place is on the water or sticking her toes in a sandy beach.
Vice President of Infrastructure
Steve has been with Holy Cross Services for 8 years and is currently the organization’s Chief Information and Corporate Compliance Officer. Before coming to HCS, Steve worked for one of Michigan’s Pre-Paid Inpatient Health Plans.
Steve is a lifelong resident of the Saginaw-Bay area and brings nearly 30 years of Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder, Child Welfare, and Recovery-Oriented operations experience in the non-profit and governmental sector to his role with Holy Cross Services. Steve firmly believes in using a reciprocal approach to leadership as defined in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. He strives to understand the “Why” of a situation to better offer effective solutions.
Joy at work: Steve has a passion for helping his coworkers learn and understand why and how technology can be used to increase effectiveness and efficiencies. He loves it when people fully realize that the whirlwind of urgent activity which consumes their day-to-day work is not a “best practice” and that by focusing on less, we can accomplish more.
Joy at home: Steve is happily married and enjoys spending quiet time reading, watching old TV shows or enjoying the outdoors working in his yard and gardening.
CONTACT : email@example.com
Join the 1948 Legacy Circle
The following gift vehicles can be used to join the 1948 Legacy Circle:
Name Holy Cross Services as a beneficiary in your will or revocable trust.
Life Insurance Policies
Name Holy Cross Services owner and beneficiary of a new or existing life insurance policy.
Donate an individual retirement account (IRA) and mandatory deduction rollover, 401k, 403b, or other retirement asset.
Real Estate or Personal Property
Donate an asset outright or in a retained life estate.
Charitable Remainder Trust
Create a trust that pays an income during your life with the remainder going to Holy Cross Services
Charitable Lead Trust
Create a trust that pays an income to Holy Cross Services for a specified term.
Donor Advised Funds
allow you to support our mission and receive an immediate tax reduction as you give your support over time.
age 70½ can donate up to $100,000 directly from their Individual Retirement Account (IRA), without treating the distribution as taxable income.
Stocks & Securities
Many donors are now making gifts to us in the form of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Making a gift of securities is simple and offers a number of valuable financial benefits.
For additional details on the options listed above the HCS staff is available to work with you and your attorney in planning a legacy gift so that your intentions are fully understood and carried out
FAMILY BASED CARE AND YOUTH TRANSITION
After having my daughter taken away from me in 2015, I started drinking even more than usual and turned to drugs to help me cope. For three years, I dealt with my depression by using drugs and alcohol.
But one day, I looked in the mirror and said I’ve had enough. My daughter always tells me: “Mom, you’re the best. Just stop drinking.” So, I finally called around looking for help and found Holy Cross Services.
They helped me deal with the root cause of my problems. In addition to depression, I also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. After months of work with the staff here, they’ve helped me cope with both my issues, as well as the drug and alcohol addiction.
I’m doing very well and am looking forward to getting my daughter back. I want to be the absolute best mom for my little girl and I’m proud of myself for getting clean. I’m here to quit drinking and be the best mom I can be. I want a great future with my little girl.
At Holy Cross it’s not just about rehabilitation for substance abuse. They look at all the other factors in your life that are causing the addictions. They have great nurses here, great therapists. All the staff are fantastic.
I’m so happy to be here. When I lost my daughter, I wasn’t healing. I was masking the pain. With the therapists and the people here, I’ve been able to get healthy.
FAMILY BASED CARE & YOUTH TRANSITION
My family situation had never been a healthy environment for me. My family had never been there for me, emotionally, and I struggled in almost all aspects of my life.
But then I took matters into my own hands and got myself out of that situation by calling the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. I’ve been with Holy Cross Services for three years now and I have all the support I need to succeed.
They helped me deal with the root cause of my problems. In addition to depression, I also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. After months of work with the staff here, they’ve helped me cope with both my issues, as well as the drug and alcohol addiction.
In my time here, I’ve learned everyone has to take responsibility for their actions and deal with issues one step at a time. Before coming here, I never paid attention in school because I didn’t have control of my life. Now I take classes, and my life, seriously.
I now have a plan to go to college or a trade school. I couldn’t have done that without Holy Cross. The people here are genuine and the programs work really well. I look forward to going to school and beginning a life that I control.
FAMILY BASED CARE AND YOUTH TRANSITION
My name is Alli, I’m 16, and I am part of the Foster Care Program at Holy Cross. During my time here, I have gotten a lot of support from the staff who have always been open to help me with anything. I have really grown as a person and received a lot of encouragement to set goals and work for them.
My hero is my big sister Maya. We’ve always been really close and we look out for each other. She inspires me because she is the only one in my family who graduated from high school and went to college. She’s the person I look up to and I want to be like her. She is the hardest worker I know. Next year, I am going to graduate high school, and my dream is to go to Eastern College and study to be a nurse. I love working with other people and helping the community around me. The best compliment I received is that I am caring and I’m always looking out for people. Being a nurse would give me the chance to help patients every day of my life.
Even when things get tough, I’m really proud of myself for being able to get through them no matter what. I’ve learned how to work well with others and to fix problems. The biggest misconception people have of foster kids is that they think that we need all this extra help and can’t look out for ourselves, but we have goals and we’re here to better ourselves too. We need people supporting us and giving us the resources to achieve our goals, and most importantly to believe that we can do anything.
People also sometimes assume that everyone in foster care has the same situation and problems. But we all have very different experiences and everyone is unique. I’ve gotten to meet people at Holy Cross from many different races, cultures, and backgrounds, and I am just thankful for my group of friends that I’ve met here. There is a lot of diversity and there’s more to us than just being foster kids.
RESIDENTIAL AND FAMILY HEALING
My name is Will, I’m 16 years old and I have been at St. Vincent home for about a year now. The reason I’m here is because my mother is in a nursing home after suffering a major overdose, and my father’s in prison – but he’ll be out in July. It’s hard having a family that uses. I remember there were a lot of times my Dad and Uncles overdosed. Seeing them being taken care of by doctors was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen – I don’t think that memory will ever go away.
When I lived with my parents, we lived in a home where they had a meth lab going. My grandma had a few strokes so she couldn’t take care of me either. I felt like I had no one. After everything happened and I first came to Holy Cross I was a mess. I had D’s and E’s in all of my classes and I just wasn’t focusing. But the more I worked with the staff the better I got. A light bulb went off in my head and I realized I could accomplish good things. My attitude is better, and I feel better because of it.
I’m getting all A’s now. That’s a great feeling because now it feels like I actually can have a future. My goal is to be an architect or a civil litigator. I’m going to be staying at Holy Cross until I can get into a good foster home, but they have been great to me. They inspired me to do the best I can and that my opportunities are limitless.
RESIDENTIAL AND FAMILY HEALING
Until I came to Holy Cross, I felt hopeless when I just wanted a second chance at life. With my experience being in and out of home, I felt like foster kids were always given up and don’t get many chances at making a good life for themselves, and that really upset me.
At age 16, I was a ‘bad egg’. I was very bad, but through my process at Holy Cross I was never once given up on. They had faith in me, and provided me with the second chance I had been looking for. I don’t know where I would be now if it wasn’t for Holy Cross.
My life has completely turned around since coming here. I feel like I improved immensely, because the workers actually care about you. A lot of other places will just see you as a dollar figure, but Holy Cross sees you as individual. When you need help, they’re there.
RESIDENTIAL AND FAMILY HEALING
Holy Cross has been very different from the other four homes I’ve been to. Here you have people that come in 24 hours and day and and make it their goal to help you. Also, with the peers inside of the youth group, we don’t know who we are in a group with. We are here for a certain reason, and it’s good to learn and grow together. It’s so nice to be with people with similar needs and backgrounds. Here at Holy Cross, I feel like I don’t have to hide who I am and that’s an incredible feeling.
Holy Cross also knows how to treat us. People tend to think that kids in foster home are needy and don’t have normal lives like everyone else. They don’t think of us like that. They treat us like who we are – normal kids who are just having a hard time in life.
That’s what else is great about the staff here. They don’t pretend like everything is okay when we first arrive. They understand that this is a very hard process. They sit us down and ask, ‘Are you okay?’. The staff actually care about us, and understand that it isn’t easy to adapt right away.
I’ve really enjoyed my experience here. As a teenage it’s hard to get in foster homes because people want the young ones they can raise. At Holy Cross, they guide us through our teen years, and work on getting us through high school and hopefully in to college. Next year, I’m looking forward to getting my own apartment, going to college and being able to travel. Holy Cross even helps us with that, as they give you opportunities and funds to meet your future life goals. I want to own my own business one day, and Holy Cross gives me the confidence to know that one day I’m going to make this happen, and be successful.
Holy Cross has really made a huge impact on my life. I would like to tell anyone else out there who feels alone and out of place that Holy Cross is the place to be. Here you can come and work on learning different skills so when you’re finally out on your own you’re prepared!
RESIDENTIAL AND FAMILY HEALING
My name is Dane and I’m 17 years old. I’ve been at Holy Cross for two and a half months and I come from an adopted family. People think that foster kids don’t have anyone and that there isn’t anything out there for them, but it’s the exact opposite. I am thankful for my adopted family and my real family, and for the support that I’ve gotten from the Holy Cross staff that I needed to better myself.
The program has been helping me a lot, especially with school. My goal is to finish high school and get all my credits so that I can go to college and play football as well. I have been putting in a lot of effort into my schoolwork and hope that I can get the chance to receive an athletic scholarship or get recruited. It would be dream come true to play for a varsity team and I am working to achieve this.
Another goal of mine is to one day start up a local family restaurant. I want to make people happy and give them a place to enjoy a meal at the table with their family and friends. Being able to have that experience with family is very important to me and I would like to accomplish that in the future. It’s an idea I think about often.
One thing I’m looking forward to when I look older is starting a family. I think a lot about the kind of dad I would want to be to my kids. I want to show them the way and give them everything they need. I want to teach them that there is always a way out of a difficult situation. A good father is someone who cares and wants to help his children, be there for them, and love them no matter what, and I hope I can be that father with my kids one day.
During the two and a half months that I’ve been here, the staff have given me advice on everything and helped me to think twice before I do anything. They have helped me find ways to express and talk about my feelings and have given me tools to use. I’ve learned not to be angry at the world and to do what I need to do to make it a better place for myself and the people I care about by using my struggles and experiences to help others. I am learning that being successful means being myself. The staff at Holy Cross have taught me the importance of setting short term and long term goals to help me be successful in who I am.
Vice President of Clinical Excellence
I began my Holy Cross journey as a foster parent. My husband and I and our 2 children cared for 22 children from Holy Cross, providing them with safety, love, and consistency. Some we helped to get back home, others we helped attain independence. After 10 years of “parenting” I became a Holy Cross Coworker. 30 years later, my mission is still the same. Provide hope, promote change and help people live free, healthy, and productive lives. In my role as VP of Clinical Excellence, I hope to equip, encourage and assist our staff in fulfilling the mission to help our kids and families thrive in their communities.
Joy at work: Seeing smiles and hearing laughter.
Joy at home: My family
Human Resource Manager
Hi, I’m Sheldon, Human Resource Manager at Holy Cross Services. I graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a degree in Business Administration in 2016.
I started my Human Resource career with an internship in college at Hausbeck Pickle Company and from there progressed into an HR representative role at Fabiano Brothers before finding myself at Holy Cross Services in June of 2019 as the Human Resource Manager.
In my Human Resource career, I have had the opportunity to build my experience through real life examples and problem solving. I love being presented with a challenge and working my way through the challenge. Because of this I have become well versed in employee benefits, HRIS systems, recruiting, Investigations and many more responsibilities that fall within the Human resources
Joy at work: What brings me joy about working at Holy Cross Services is being able to help clients indirectly by helping staff that help the clients.
Joy at home: What brings me joy in my home life is being able to come home and spend time with my family. I also find joy and peace in being able to go for runs every day after work.
Vice President of Employee Care
Joyce joined HCS following an impressive history in Human Resources, where she has served as a Chief HR Officer for more than 20 years. Her expertise includes many years of executive HR leadership in the nonprofit sector, with a particular focus on 24/7 programming and the homelessness sector. Joyce is a strong advocate for equitable organizational structures and believes employee care must be intentional and well-resourced. Joyce has her MBA, a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, and is SHRM-SCP certified as a senior HR professional. Joyce has experience in employee engagement, ensuring personnel open channels of communication to share power. Joyce leads the charge in the agency’s initiatives to help our team statewide pursue wellness, recruitment and retention, equity and inclusion, training, and professional growth, along with employee support, payroll, and benefits.
Joy at work: Having a positive impact with each of our coworkers by ensuring they have the training, resources, and support that will afford them the opportunity to provide the children in HCS’s care with the best possible level of service, compassion and empathy that will lead to positive outcomes for their futures.
Joy at home: Quality time with family and friends ensuring them that their happiness and well-being is of great importance and a priority for me. On a lighter side, I find joy in being adventurous, traveling the world, trying new things, and just having fun.
Senior Director of Quality & Compliance/Recipient Rights Officer
Bev holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Saginaw Valley State University and a master’s in Counseling from Central Michigan University. She came to Holy Cross 30 years ago as an intern and has been with us ever since. She has served as a Treatment Specialist, Family Therapist, Program Coordinator, Manager and Director. Her current role is Quality & Compliance Director/Recipient Rights Officer for the agency.
Joy at work: Bev has experienced so many things that bring her joy at work. She works with amazing people who are kind, caring and extremely dedicated. Being blessed with the opportunity to be a part of helping change someone’s life in a positive way brings her tremendous joy!
Joy at home: Spending time with family and cooking bring her joy at home. Bev has 6 sisters and a very large close family with 2 adult children of my own. She enjoys walking and going on vacations with her husband!
Division Director Permanency & Family Care
After earning my bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University in Criminal Justice, I went to work at Saginaw County Juvenile Detention Center. I started as a Youth Care Worker and was promoted to Shift Supervisor. While working at the detention center, I was an active board member for the Michigan Juvenile Detention Association. My responsibility within the team was to coordinate training for detention centers across the state of Michigan. I spent 13 years in juvenile detention observing the court system, learning how to work with delinquent youth, and experiencing licensing expectations of Child Caring Institutions. In 2016, I made the shift to Holy Cross Services as a Foster Care Worker. After a year of working for Holy Cross Services, I was promoted to Foster Care Supervisor and oversaw the Traverse City office. While working for Holy Cross Services, as a worker and enventually a supervisor, I attended the University of Michigan where I was able to earn my master’s degree in Public Administration, graduating in December 2018. In January 2019, I was promoted to Quality Manager for Community-Based Programming. Over those 3 years, the Community-Based program was able to expand and build a structure that allowed for more families to be serviced and additional programming to be developed such as; Parent Partner, Bay-In Home Services, and Adoption. In 2022, I was promoted to Divisional Director of Permanancy and Family Care in an interim capacity.
Joy at Home:
Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to acknowledge the good things around us. It is choosing to be happy and content in your surroundings. For me it is the simple quiet cup of coffee in the morning, the newly planted flowers growing, or the laughter in the kitchen when cooking a meal. Home is my happy place where I spent time with my children and family making memories.
Joy at Work:
My motivation comes from the ideas from working with families and my amazing co-workers. It is the dedication and hard work put into a concept to make it a reality to help support families to eliminate barriers and empower them to meet goals. It is a joyful feeling when you have helped create something that may make life even a little bit better for someone else. Programming and structure are built with the intent to strengthen and build a team for clients, to help them find the joy.
Deputy Director of Independent Living Plus
Stephanie was born and raised in the mid MIchigan area and now lives here locally with her husband and children. Stephanie pursued a degree in Family and Community Services at Michigan State University – Go Green! After graduating, she perused her passion for families working with teen parents and their children and then with families who experienced abusive and neglectful home environments. Stephanie has dedicated her career to working with parents to gain positive-nurturing parenting skills to ensure children are safe in their family.
Joy at work: Stephanie enjoys spending her day with families and co-workers. She is dedicated to the families served by her programs and advocates for quality, meaningful services that meet the needs of the family. Stephanie enjoys teaching others and helping staff problem solve situations with families.
Joy at home: Stephanie surrounds herself with her family and enjoys watching her children mature and develop their own personalities and beliefs. Stephanie, her husband and children enjoy camping through out Michigan, listening to music, and spending time together. When Stephanie is not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys hunting and off-roading in her Jeep.
Deputy Director of Foster Care
Andrea was born and raised in West Michigan. After attending Western Michigan University and obtaining her bachelor’s degree in social work, she immediately started the Master of Social Work program at WMU. Graduating with her Master of Social Work degree in 2008, Andrea accepted her first job out of school with Holy Cross Services as a foster care worker. Since then, she has worked as a Foster Care Worker, Foster Care Supervisor, Program Manager, and now Deputy Director. Andrea only planned to work in child welfare “for a couple of years” to gain professional experience and hours towards professional licensure, but quickly found that she had a passion for working with children and families involved in the child welfare system. Andrea is a fully licensed LMSW-C.
At work, Andrea enjoys developing relationships with her coworkers, families served, relative and foster parent caregivers, and community service providers. Qualify of services provided is of utmost importance to Andrea. At home, Andrea enjoys spending time with family, including her two dogs. She loves to travel, cheer on the Denver Broncos and Chicago Cubs, spending time on the shores of Lake Michigan, and binge watch true crime and The Office.
Joy at home: The definition of joy is “the emotion of great delight or happiness.” I find joy in many places in my life. At home I find joy in spending time with family and friends, laughing about old memories and making new ones. Long days at the shores of Lake Michigan with a good book and the sounds of the waves bring me joy. We often think that joy comes from the big things in life, but if we are intentional in being present in the moment, we can find just as much joy in the small things.
Joy at work: I find joy and laughter with my coworkers. Having strong relationships with your coworkers helps with the daily stressors of child welfare. I find joy in working with children and families. Seeing families heal and be reunited brings me joy, just as much as watching an adoption be finalized, bringing permanency to children, brings me joy. I feel privileged to work in a field that can find joy in the midst of hardship.
Division Director Family-Based Care and Youth Transition Team
I graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Masters in Leadership & Public Administration emphasizing in Human Services. After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I started my professional career with Holy Cross Services, AKA Boysville of Michigan. Then is when I met my mentor who had a profound effect on the trajectory of my career and realized that my purpose was to provide the same mentorship to those serving our children and families. Since, I have served in multiple roles with Holy Cross Services and have spent most of my years assisting in leading the way of the expansion of community-based programming. In addition, I have been a member of the Quality & Compliance team and now acting Director of Residential & Family Healing.
Joy at work: There are so many things that bring me joy at work despite the long hours we tend to work, secondary trauma we experience as well as the sadness and sorrow we see every day. I work with a group of people who are resilient, kind, hardworking and committed to making the lives of others better.
Joy at home: I am blessed that God has given me the life I have. My grandparents, mother and other close family members have helped shape who I am, and I am so thankful to have them. As most people know, my dogs bring me joy as does the time I have been fortunate to spend in the woods hunting, rock picking and working in my yard.
Director of Clinical Services
Nikki Boyd has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, a Masters in Counseling from Central Michigan University, and Masters in Social Work from Michigan State University. She began working for Holy Cross Services in 1992. Niki is a huge fan of both Michigan State Spartans and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.
Joy at home: My greatest joy is my son Zeke and spending time with my family and friends whenever I can.
Joy at work: I believe that working with children is a calling. I love being a part of their journey to recovery from all of the trauma they have endured, and helping them become the person they were intended to be.
Jeff Howe earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree of Education from Columbia International University in Columbia, SC. He has served as a teacher and school administrator in South Carolina, Michigan, and Haiti. He has served with Holy Cross Services since June 2006.
Jeff is filled with joy as students strive for and experience success in school. He strives daily to help students gain confidence within a school setting and reach toward their future with a positive mindset.
Joy at work: I am filled with joy as students strive for and experience success in school. It is amazing to see students gain confidence within a school setting and reach toward their future with a positive mindset.
Joy at home: I enjoy spending time with my kids and helping them grow to become a better person each day. We especially enjoy soccer, karate, backpacking adventures and rodeos.
Director of Family Healing
Jacharri Lewis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, functioning in the capacity of Director of Family Healing at Holy Cross Services. Ms. Lewis comes to HCS with a professional background in Child Welfare and Behavioral Health services. Ms. Lewis’ educational platform began at Saginaw Valley State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, with a minor in Youth Services. Furthering her education, Ms. Lewis earned a master’s degree in Social Work, from Michigan State University within the concentration of clinical social work. Ms. Lewis has long considered herself a social worker at heart. She states, “It’s truly an honor to be able to serve someone in need”. Ms. Lewis has dedicated her professional career studying the impact trauma has across the lifespan and providing therapeutic services to those suffering from the adverse effects of trauma.
Joy at work: Seeing a child’s life restored, knowing that the work that I do, has the potential to change a child’s life!
Joy at home: Seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of my children. Hearing the birds sing outside my living room window. Knowing that despite what’s taking place around us, God is still in control.
Jennifer was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. She graduated from the University of Windsor, Ontario with a BA in Psychology. Jennifer started working for Holy Cross Services in 2014.
Joy at home: Jennifer is the proud mother of three daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, camping, and traveling.
Joy at work: Jennifer’s greatest joy at Holy Cross is watching kids succeed and to move forward with Hope. She strives to support staff throughout the building to accomplish the mission of Holy Cross.
Division Director Shelter & Community Services
Nancy Oliver, MA has over 20 years’ experience as a Human Services Professional. Ms. Oliver has spent many of those years working to understand, implement and transform policy, systems and environments to provide equitable social services and strategies that successfully address the needs of the most disadvantaged populations. Ms. Oliver’s areas of experience include Child Welfare, Homelessness, Prisoner Re-Entry, Mental Health, and Substance abuse treatment. Ms. Oliver has 5 adult children (1 daughter, 4 sons) who have blessed her with 14 grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 24 years of age. Ms. Oliver relies heavily on her Faith for support and guidance. Ms. Oliver
is originally from the Grand Rapids area; obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University and her master’s degree in administration and Organizational Development from Spring Arbor University.
Joy at work: My team. We have a great group of dedicated employees who are eager to help people and families in need of housing and support
Joy at home: My family. I enjoy spending time with my adult children, their spouses and my grandchildren.
Michael C. Barr
Emergency Shelter Program Manager
Michael was born and raised in the greater Lansing area and now lives here locally with his wife and German Shephard Maya. Michael served honorably in the United States Marine Corps as a Heavy Equipment Mechanic and deployed to Afghanistan twice during Operation Enduring Freedom. After his time in the service, he pursued his education and career goals in the health and human services industry. In his free time, Michael attends Siena Heights University and is working on completing his master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
Joy at work: Michael enjoys spending his day with participants and staff. Michael’s philosophy is that everyone should be met with dignity and respect. He advocates for increased access to mental health treatment and hopes to address systemic disparities within the community.
Joy at home: Michael surrounds himself with friends and family. Michael and his wife enjoy walking their dog, traveling, and spending time together. Michael practices various forms of self-care, including reading, writing, drawing, and binge-watching The Office.
Kim’s career began in 2009 where she worked in construction with JD Building Services. During that time, she learned skills in the following areas, excavation, framing, concrete, drywall, painting, drop ceilings, light plumbing and more in the residential and commercial fields. It was at JD Building Services where she was introduced to Volunteers of America. She has worked on several projects from the construction of the Detroit Homeless Shelter, the Veterans Safe Haven in Warren MI, and the Sparrow Medical and Dental Clinics in Lansing. Other projects included the Veterans suite build out, the Program of All Inclusive Care for the elderly (PACE) facility and many other projects.
In 2017, Kim began working with the Volunteers of America. After being offered the position, she recalls knowing her answer within 24 hours. While she loved working for JD Building Services, she knew this opportunity would bring many new, and great opportunities. She was offered and accepted the position as Construction and Maintenance Manager. In late 2018 Volunteers of America ceased to offer services at the Homeless Shelter. At that time, she was offered the opportunity to continue with Volunteers of America or accept a position with Holy Cross Services as Maintenance Coordinator. After much thought, she once again followed her heart and accepted that position.
Joy at work: I love showing up to work making people smile and laugh, being that person that people look forward to seeing. Daily, I endeavor to make a difference in the lives of those we serve, as Holy Cross has made a difference in my life. I’ve strengthened personal traits, such as compassion, patience, and interpersonal skills as I work with others. I enjoy working with community partners and watching how a community comes together to help hundreds of people ever year! These are just a few of the reasons why I love coming to work. I look forward to more growth with the agency and building unforgettable relationships with coworkers and clients!
Joy at home: I find joy in motorcycling, snowmobiling, automotive racing, and traveling. When not on the go I enjoy spending time with friends and family!
Program Manager of the Veteran Housing Program
Felicia Peters Robinson is a Program Manager of the Veteran Housing Program at HCS-NHCC. Felicia has a passion for assisting individuals in transition with attaining their housing, employment, health, and financial goals.
Felicia leads a team at New Hope that was recently recognized by the Veteran Administration for exceeding expectations of ending homelessness within 121 days which is lower than the six-month GPD National Average.
Felicia earned a Master of Arts Degree in Family Education from Western Michigan University and is a Certified Family Life Educator. Her Bachelor of Arts Degree is in Sociology from Michigan State University.
Felicia has over 10 years’ experience in the human service field and aspires to create social change.
Joy at work: Cultivating her team and watching others attain their housing goals.
Joy at home: Felicia enjoys spending time with family, preparing delicious meals and volunteering with the youth in our community.
William “Bill” Weston
DIVISION DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL & FAMILY HEALING
Mr. Weston was born and raised in Saginaw County, Mi. where he currently resides with his family. Mr. Weston graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1989 and Saginaw Valley State University in 1994 with a Bachelor’s Degree – Double Major in Criminal Justice and Sociology. In 1994, Mr. Weston began his career with the State of Michigan working for the Michigan Department of Corrections at Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit. In 1997, he transferred to the Saginaw Correctional Facility before being hired as a Children’s Protective Services Worker in Saginaw County. Mr. Weston spent the next 24 years with the Department of Health and Human Services including executive level leadership roles in Roscommon County, Iosco County, Ogemaw County, Sanilac County, St. Clair County and DHHS Central Office.
Although he gladly accepted assignments that took him all over the state, Mr. Weston is extremely happy and grateful to be back home in Saginaw where he has a wonderful family and group of lifelong friends.
Mr. Weston has always had a strong passion for utilizing data to drive positive outcomes for children and families. That same passion still exists today.
Joy at Work – I love to watch team members work together and grow in their roles. My greatest joy at work is striving to provide our youth with a positive experience that will positively impact the trajectory of their lives. We can and do make a difference!
Joy at Home – I am blessed to come home to a wonderful wife, two children and two loving dogs every night!
Dawnika L. Benson MS
DIVISION DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL & FAMILY HEALING
Dawnika Benson joined HCS following more than 10 years of service in the Child Welfare sector. Mrs. Benson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University and graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Counseling from Capella University.
rs. Benson dedicated her life to working with families in the community and has a deep passion to provoke change. Mrs. Benson has dedicated her professional career to growing and challenging herself with many roles and responsibilities including but not limited to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as many other committees for the purpose of improving the child welfare system.
Joy at Work – knowing that the growth and development of one’s career can be the direct result of my guidance and care.
Joy at Home –waking up to my miracle baby every day knowing that she is here and I have been entrusted to love and care for her. Understanding that my very life is a testimony of how good God really is!
DIVISION DIRECTOR OF RESIDENTIAL & FAMILY HEALING
Stormie Jacobs-Wakemup is the Deputy Division Director of Residential and Family Healing within Holy Cross Services. Stormie holds an Associates of Arts in Native American Studies from Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, Bachelors of Science in Family Studies, and a Master of Science Administration in Health Administration from Central Michigan University. Stormie has worked in human services for over 13 years, splitting that time within education and child welfare. Finding passion in both fields reaching from both Tribal governments and state governments, her experience is broad. Being raised as an Anishinaabe woman, finding value in our family systems and our future within the youth, she is doing the work to strengthen our families and communities. She believes it is a great blessing to be a part of another’s journey for the better and she finds great reward in helping others be successful and healthy.
Joy at Work – Being a part of someone’s journey and being able to relieve some of their burdens to make even just one thing a little easier for them. Creating bonds and breaking cycles to make the world a little better one person, one family, one community at a time.
Joy at Home – As a part of an Anishinaabe family, continuing my beliefs and values in my children and creating lasting legacies for the next 7 generations. My children and family bring the upmost joy, seeing them be able to forge their own paths right in front of me, it is just a blessing being a part of that. As a sports mom, I find my biggest joy is seeing my kids engaging in hard work and doing what they love.
Leah Gordon – Arnold
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO CEO
I was born and raised in Southern California. I attended California State University in Fullerton, California, where I majored in psychology. My passion is working with organizations who ultimately make change in people’s lives.
Before coming to Holy Cross Services, I was a paralegal with two law firms specializing in civil litigation and family law. I’ve held several clerical and senior administrative support roles where I was involved in strategic planning. I worked for a faith-based retreat center in the foothills of Northern California, as a secretary, guest relations and events coordinator.
I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S. and Canada assisting with planning, onsite coordination of marketing booths at trade shows and hosting hospitality events.
Like some of our clients, in my personal life I am a survivor who has experienced trauma and hardship in my family, but also healing, restoration and victory over my history.
Joy at work: I am happy when given a challenging project or task, and then knocking it out of the park for my team. I am happiest when I learn new things, am stretched to the limit, thus ultimately making me a better assistant.
Joy at home: Being the best mother I can be to my son and daughter is what makes me joyful. My faith brings me happiness and I also enjoy playing guitar and singing worship songs.
DIRECTOR OF MAJOR GIFTS
Brian has worked in the Michigan non-profit community for over 10 years. A life-long development professional, starting in higher education and specializing in human services, he has a desire to improve the quality of life for Michiganders of every background. With a passion for connecting the dots between donors, institutions, and organizations, he believes there is NOTHING that our community cannot get done if we put in the work.
Brian graduated from James Madison College at Michigan State University and credits his passion for non-profit work as a result of his time studying there.
Joy at Work: Making a real difference in the day to day lives of the individuals we are serving. My job is to showcase the wonderful job that my front-line colleagues are doing with direct services.
Joy at home: Being an amateur home gardener and cook while also being a professional cat dad.
Allison Martin –
Associate Director of Strategic Engagement and Events
A majority of her career has been focused on creating high level engagement opportunities for key constituents with a focus on connecting the mission to prospective supporters.
She has dedicated her career to working with organizations to help better the lives of others.
Joy at Work – When people walk away from an interaction with a greater appreciation for the work that is being done and an understating of the need for support.
Joy at Home – Spending time laughing and enjoying life with my husband and sons.
VICE PRESIDENT OF ADVANCEMENT
Marcy brings over twenty-four years of nonprofit leadership experience to her role as VP of Development. Throughout her career she has served with several mission-based nonprofit organizations inclusive of health care, human services, social services, community and quality of life, and conservation. Her life’s work has been serving organizations that provide advocacy, safety, security and a voice for those who need it most. Her motto is simple: “We must do what we can to leave the world a better place than we found it”.
Marcy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural and Natural Resources Communications from Michigan State University and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame.
Joy at Work – “Knowing at the end of each day I’ve contributed to something bigger than myself and served in a way that’s helped our neighbors, families and youth find safety, security and comfort”.
Joy at Home – Finding happiness in the simple things in life. Spending time with family. Surrounding myself with the people and animals I love. Laughing as much as I can.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Born and raised in Flint, MI, I have always had a passion for helping others and instilling hope into people/places where opportunities may be scarce. My overall goal in my career and in my current position as the Associate Director of Positive Youth Development is to provide our youth the tools to help them advocate for themselves, make positive choices, adapt a healthy lifestyle, and thrive once they transition out.
Through consistency and mentorship, I want the youth to believe that your current circumstances do not define who you are. Being a first-generation college graduate, I understand the importance and positive effects that having good mentors can bring.
I graduated with a Bachelors in Health Services Administration from Davenport University as well as a Masters in Management and have been working in the non-profit arena since 2018. Through experience working with underserved students and families in the Flint and Lapeer school districts, I have learned how to identify barriers, assess behaviors, and come up with intervention/transition plans to give families the push that they may need in order to continue in the right direction.
My joy at work is seeing the results of my investment in the youth. The small victories mean a lot to me. My goal is to help people believe in themselves and understand that setting and accomplishing goals is possible.
My joy outside of work is practicing self care, this can be exercising, spending time with loved ones, or simply enjoying quiet time to myself when needed.
Meri Hopkins, LMSW, CAADC
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF FAMILY PRESERVATION
Meri has spent her professional career specializing in intimate partner violence, sexual violence, substance use, family preservation and utilizing a variety of techniques to assist clients heal from complex traumas. Meri is experienced at contract management, program supervision, leading groups, creating and presenting innovative trainings, providing crisis advocacy, in addition to creating a safe threptic environment for children, teens, adults and families. Knowing no single approach is right for every individual, Meri is guided by a strengths-based philosophy allowing her to utilize a variety of modalities to meet the needs of each unique client.
Joy at work: Being able to create a safe threptic environment for children, teens, adults and families.
Joy at Home: When she is not busy supporting her team, writing grants or creating trainings you can find her kayaking, revamping thrift store furniture or standing in line at Cedar Point.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF LICENSING AND ADOPTION
Sara was born and raised in Northern Michigan and now resides on the west side of the state (which she LOVES!). She earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan – Go BLUE! and her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ferris State University
Sara is passionate about being a positive force in the community for the families and children she is serves through her professional and personal life.
Joy at work: Sara finds joy in building and refining skills with her co-workers in order to make a more profound impact. The families that Holy Cross serves on a daily basis are always a joyful impact and motivation to continue to learn to be better advocates.
Joy at home: Sara enjoys going to the beach in the summer and anything Harry Potter! Animals are near and dear to her heart, and she has a zoo of pets at home to keep her busy!
SHELTER PROGRAM MANAGER
Matthew J Klepac started his professional career 15 years ago when he began working as a research assistant and an instructor of social science courses at Western Michigan University. Matthew’s broad range of interests lead him to study sociology and anthropology at Eastern Michigan University, where he earned both his Bachelor and Masters degrees. Matthew’s interests within the fields of sociology and anthropology guided him to focus his studies on the areas of racial and ethnic relations, gender studies, and critical criminology.
Matthew has taught a wide range of college level courses in a diversity of settings that include universities, community colleges, and prison facilities throughout the state of Michigan. Matthew’s work as a social science instructor has been shaped by a strong desire to reduce social inequalities and provide greater opportunities for marginalized members of society.
In 2021 Matthew was given an opportunity to put knowledge into practice by applying his sociological perspective to issues faced by people experiencing homelessness in his hometown of Lansing, Michigan. Matthew fell in love with this line of work faster than you can say “housing first” and has developed immense gratitude and respect for the people working in this field and those we are blessed to serve.
What brings me joy at HCS: That human connection. The employees and participants at HCS are the realest people you’ll ever meet and being connected to them as we all go through our struggles and successes has opened my eyes and filled my heart with joy and gratitude.
What brings me joy at home: Painting, creative writing, and spending time with my family.
DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
Rachel comes to Holy Cross Services with over 10 years of expertise in embedding DEIAJ+ principles into organizational design and culture. Rachel’s global DEIAJ+ experience allows her to identify and evaluate opportunities for organizational and cultural improvement, generating realistic timelines and metrics for short- and long-term revitalization.
Since childhood, Rachel has been dedicated to helping communities and organizations strategically eradicate barriers related to race, ethnicity, immigration status, diversability, sexual orientation, gender, and various additional identities of historically excluded populations. Rachel strives to remain culturally humble—promising to self-critique, self-evaluate, and hold herself accountable—as she advocates for others and addresses systemic power imbalances to remove barriers to access. To ensure that all members of the community feel as though they are valued and belong, Rachel intentionally endeavors to cultivate deliberately diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments through empathy, paired with strategic planning and community collaboration.
Rachel’s goal is to establish a more equitable future for everyone through embedding DEIAJ+ into everything she does. In her spare time, Rachel serves on a number of committees and volunteers with various organizations to promote anti-racism and achieve social justice for the betterment of all communities.
Rachel earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Policy from the University of Michigan in Dearborn, MI and her Bachelor’s of Art degree from Wayne State University. Rachel also holds the Certified Diversity Executive (CDE)® credential.
Joy at work: Strategically embedding DEIAJ+ into all facets of Holy Cross Services’ operations and culture to cultivate an environment where everyone thrives fills me with joy! When I know that I have helped to create a work atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and as though they belong, I know that I have done my part!
Joy at home: Spending time with my family, which includes our tortoise!
RECRUITMENT AND TALENT ACQUISITIONS MANAGER
Heather has worked in several facets of Non-Profit and Human Services for over 15 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Resources Management and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science and General Studies. Additionally, Heather is a Registered Social Service Technician with the Michigan Board of Social Work and holds certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Heather was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, specifically in the Beecher Area, to a proud single Italian mother. Adopted at birth by her siblings’ father, she spent much of her childhood on the shirttails of her grandparents, whom she affectionately refers to as ‘the best grandparents that didn’t have to be’. Heather married her high-school sweetheart and they have been together for 34 years. They have two wonderful sons, who are the absolute best gift God has blessed them with.
Joy at work – Being able to use my education and life experiences to help understand each position’s need to actively recruit, hire and retain exceptional talent that will impact the lives of our children, families, and veterans.
Joy at Home – I have truly been blessed to have met my soul mate when we were young and have the blessing of growing up and old together. However, our two sons hold the absolute light in our eyes. I am passionate about helping people in need, and volunteering, whether as a Booster Board member for High School Soccer, serving as the Chair of the Band Boosters, or any other way I can be involved in the schools. I love taking pictures, spending time with my oldest son and grand dog, and going to different venues to watch my youngest son’s band or my husband’s band. I also enjoy attending various concerts with my family and friends.
CEO / President
Ryan, a native of Monroe, Michigan, currently serves as the President/CEO of Holy Cross Services, embodying a deep commitment to the organization’s mission. His journey within Holy Cross Services commenced in 2021 when he joined as a consultant, later serving on the Board of Directors, marking his initial steps towards a transformative involvement within the organizations. He soon ascended to the role of Chief Financial Officer, showcasing his dedication and proficiency in organizational leadership.
Ryan’s dedication to Holy Cross Services’ mission is an intrinsic part of his life’s purpose. He envisions a future where the security of family and home is a reality for all, fueling his unwavering determination and efforts within the organization. As a man of faith, Ryan’s personal mission is to lead a purposeful life, thus he is steadfast in serving God, his family, and his community. Having surmounted various obstacles in life, he intimately understands the challenges prevalent in the community and the significance of the trauma recovery process in enabling individuals to lead healthier, more productive lives. Ryan’s greatest joy at work is when he can help the staff overcome challenges and obstacles.
Ryan has an undergraduate degree in Accounting from the University of Findlay in Ohio. This educational foundation paved the way for his professional career, which began at a small accounting firm, after earning his MBA. His experience in auditing nonprofits, schools, and local governments equipped him with a profound understanding of the language of business. This foundational knowledge, coupled with his heartfelt desire to address community needs, guided his trajectory through various impactful roles in his career.