VASIA program swears in spring class of six volunteers

VASIA program swears in spring class of six volunteers

A class of six volunteers were sworn in as Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA), joining Franciscan Health Hammond’s program to represent those unable to advocate for themselves.

Tammara Hill of Lynwood, Ill., JoAnne McDonald of Crown Point, Stephannie Schreiber of Merrillville, Sandra Seabold of Crown Point and Erin Weiss of Crown Point, along with Mary McNair of Elyria Ohio, who joined virtually, were sworn in at a ceremony at Lake Superior Court. The court collaborates with Franciscan Health to provide trained and supervised volunteers to serve as court-appointed agents of the guardian to assist the elderly and incapacitated adults.

VASIA Director LaVonne Jarrett noted that the spring class included fast-track and virtual training. Program Manager Barbara Melendez told the newest volunteers, “You are the heartbeat of the program.”

“This program is vital to serve those who don’t have a voice,” said Lake Superior Court Probate Commissioner Ben Ballou, who performed the swearing in. “You are doing God’s work, and we appreciate that.”

VASIA specialist Brian Drummond provided words of encouragement, noting that the intensity of passion is more important than the level of one’s talent. “This work that we do, it’s about ensuring that we improve the quality of life for the individuals that come our way,” he said.

Franciscan Health Foundation Development Director MinDee Richards praised the support provided by the VASIA staff. “When you’re out there and you feel like you’re on your own, you’re not. There’s a community behind you,” she said.

The VASIA program is partially funded by grants from the Indiana Supreme Court, Retirement Research Foundation, Indiana Bar Foundation, Legacy Foundation, Inc. and other local, state and national funders and generous local donors. To donate, go to; and to learn more about the program or find out how to become a volunteer, visit