New class of VASIA guardians sworn in at Lake Superior Court

New class of VASIA guardians sworn in at Lake Superior Court

The Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA) organization of Franciscan Health Hammond welcomed seven new members during a swearing-in ceremony on May 24.

With Lake Superior Court Judge Bruce Parent in attendance, the spring 2021 class was sworn in at Lake Superior Court by Probate Commissioner Ben Ballou, who said, “From the court’s perspective, this program is vital.”

Taking the volunteer affirmation were Collette Edwards, Tiffany Hall, David Johnson, Margo Leabo, Stephanie Reshkin, Lisa Velasco and Lisa Witzke. Program Director LaVonne Jarrett welcomed the new volunteers, saying, “Thank you so much for saying ‘yes’ to the call of VASIA.”

Program Manager Barbara Melendez told the volunteers to enjoy the wonderful clients. “Each and every person is different, and each and every guardianship is different, but we love them all.”

Volunteer Coordinator Francesca Mendoza reflected on her experience and the emotion she felt when she was sworn in as a volunteer. “I’m excited to be part of your journey. Our staff is here for you,” she said.

The VASIA program, instituted in 2001 and the brainchild of then-hospital President Tom Gryzbek, is a collaborative effort between the hospital and Lake County Superior Courts. It provides trained and supervised volunteers to serve as court-appointed legal guardians to assist the elderly and incapacitated adults. The volunteers assist the courts with decision-making. VASIA likewise partners with service delivery programs to develop a continuum of elder law advocacy and guardianship services in the Region.

Volunteers in the VASIA Program complete a training program and serve as a limited guardian for one case at a time. To learn more about the program, visit