Jessica Sandacz is an Art Therapy Intern at JourneyCare. She is finishing her last semester of graduate school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jessica is a ceramic artist and creative writer. In her spare time she enjoys writing short stories, playing tabletop games with friends, and binge watching Netflix.
Emma Kainz is a senior at Barrington High School and member of the JourneyCare Youth Advisory Board. She spends her time working at her family restaurant, the Onion Pub and Brewery, babysitting, playing the violin, lifeguarding, and volunteering. She has been volunteering at JourneyCare for over five years.
Katie Lahiff completed her internship with JourneyCare Music-Thanatologists Tony Pederson and Margaret Pasquesi in 2014 and was hired to work part-time at JourneyCare upon certification as a Music-Thanatologist in the same year. She has been teaching music for over 40 years, currently in her 24th year with the Community Music Division at De Paul University. She is ordained swami from the Temple of Kriya Yoga where she leads music meditations regularly and serves as a Spiritual Guide. She is a Certified Contemplative Practice yoga teacher and yoga therapist. For Katie, Music-Thanatology is a beautiful expression of service to Life, combining all of her values. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Stephen Hutchins, also a musician.
Andrée LaVallie started as a volunteer at JourneyCare before joining the company as a full-time Licensed Massage Therapist in 2016. After over 20 years in the media business, personal experiences with hospice care inspired her to pursue massage therapy as a way to be involved with caring for people at the end of life. She feels incredibly lucky to have found this new career and loves her work at JourneyCare. She and her husband live in Chicago and love to travel.
AnnMarie Pulkkila was a nurse for more than 30 years before joining JourneyCare as the Team Manager of the Pepper Family Hospice CareCenter in Barrington four years ago and then changing roles to Insurance Case Manager.
AnnMarie absolutely loves music and singing! She is a cantor at her church, has studied music and voice throughout the years and has been singing in choirs since high school.
“Although I may not always listen well, I am led by my faith daily. It has been said that to sing is to pray twice. When I sing through worship, I sing to God in thanksgiving and praise for the life I have been given. It is in those moments I know that I am perfect in His eyes.”
Her fur baby, Aria, is named after her love of music.
Lisa Jordan, LCPC, NCC joined JourneyCare as Grief Support Services Manager in August, with a background in private practice grief and loss counseling, and as adjunct faculty at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She previously held positions as director of a college counseling center, and as a manager at an Employee Assistance Program. She is grateful for the opportunity to support JourneyCare's talented Bereavement Team in providing outstanding care to our patients’ families, as well as the community.
Grace Fox has been a JouneyCare volunteer since April 2018. She chose to serve because she grew up accompanying her mother to many volunteer activities and was able to experience the joy it felt to be there for others. As her children are getting older she is now able to commit to the time she would like to follow in her mother’s footsteps!
Elizabeth Jepson has been a board certified music therapist for the past 10 years. She holds a BM from the University of Iowa and has been working at JourneyCare for seven years. She continues to love her job and learning more everyday about the hospice world. When not working, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her family and participating in community theater.
My name is Maria E. Mento. I was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New York City when I was 12 years old, where I went to junior high and high school. From NYC, I moved to Evanston to attend Northwestern University, where I got a BA. I met my future husband at Northwestern, got married and had three sons. I later went back to school and obtained a Master of Divinity at McCormick Theological Seminary. I practiced parish ministry for seven years as pastor of the English ministry in a Hispanic Pentecostal church, but was always drawn to chaplaincy since doing one unit of CPE at St Francis Hospital in Evanston. I really love the one-on-one ministry and compassionate care provided in chaplaincy, it seemed like a better fit for me. I finally entered a residency in chaplaincy at Alexian Brothers Medical Center, where later I worked part time as a chaplain. Later, I worked two years at a hospice as a field chaplain and director of spiritual care. Five years ago, I began working for our organization as a bilingual chaplain. I'm a member of JourneyCare's Moonstone care team, but assist the Amethyst, Sunstone and occasionally the Jet teams with their Spanish-speaking-only patients. I love being a chaplain.
Katie Fernandez is a Registered Nurse, certified in hospice and palliative care. She has worked for our organization for 15 years in both hospice and palliative care. She's the proud mom of four intelligent and talented grown children.