20 Years — 20 Stories


Late in 2002, the Marklund organization open the doors to its newest location—a 25-acre campus featuring a 45,000-square-foot Administration & Developmental Training center with aquatic therapy pool, dental office, hair salon, as well as four 16-bed residential buildings, and room to expand.

Then called Marklund at Mill Creek for being situated within the Mill Creek subdivision in unincorporated Geneva, this new development was Marklund’s largest fundraising undertaking up to then—a $17 million campaign with the majority funded through the Federal government, thanks to support from Congressman Henry Hyde.

Once the new Hyde Center building opened, Marklund residents were transported from their group homes in DuPage County to begin utilizing the new Developmental Training classrooms. The first four residential buildings constructed on the campus were not completed until early 2003, with two more added in 2006.

Many of our employees who took part in this milestone move are still on staff today, happy to share their memories.

New stories will be added periodically. Check back often!

Vicki Reyes

Vicki Reyes, COTA/L, joined Marklund in 1992 and has held a variety of positions since then. Her job titles over the years included: Volunteer, Nurses Aid, CNA, TAA (Therapeutic Activity Aide), Developmental Instructor, Volunteer Coordinator, Licensed Hairstylist, and Therapist-COTA/L.

What working at Marklund means to me.

Marklund is all about ‘everyday life.’ Living in Geneva I could always boast about how immersed in the local community Marklund is. Pre-pandemic times, I would see our residents out at every turn outside of work; movies, shopping, the parks, local restaurants, concerts, etc. It makes me so happy and proud to know that I am part of something so important and so special. favorite memory from your time at Marklund?

Favorite memory
Far too many to choose from but I would say it would have to be one of the residents’ annual Christmas plays that the Therapy Department held for families and friends where my 4-year old daughter participated in the final scene with the residents. The skits were super fun and meaningful to the residents and it was a huge success. What an amazing moment where my two worlds came together.

“Having worked here more than half of my life, Marklund has enriched my life more than I ever could’ve imagined. I have learned that possibilities are limitless. The relationships I have with the residents, their families, and my co-workers is a cherished and valued part of my life. My heart is here and I do not take anything for granted.”

Wes Kochan

Wes became a part of the Marklund Therapy team in 1997, serving as a Recreation Therapist, CTRS, Activity Coordinator. He is also known as “The Commissioner” because of his involvement coordinating/running our on-site baseball games with residents, staff and volunteers. Wes also organizes and leads the annual Summer Games event on the Hyde Center campus, bringing residents, staff, parents/guardians, family members and volunteers together to celebrate our residents abilities and have a blast in our own Special Olympic-style event.

How Marklund has impacted me

Getting to know our residents and clients and their families! They are all amazing people and I have been lucky to have them in my life.

Favorite Memory

All the beautiful, happy smiles! Also, I’ll never forget working with several residents on massive paintings which are now on for display at the Aspen Lane Wine Company! The residents were so proud. It was a labor of love for all of us.

“It’s so great to be able to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Christine Wilkins

Christine joined Marklund in 1998 as a CNA. Over the years, she moved into different roles within direct care — Activity Assistant, Lead CNA — before transitioning into administration as the Medical Records Coordinator.

How Marklund impacted my life and career

I was very young when I started and waitressed before that. When I started at Marklund in 1998, I went through the Marklund CNA Program. It changed my life. I had a wonderful teacher who taught me so much, and I fell in love with taking care o0f people.

Favorite Memory

There are so many memories to choose from! One that always sticks out is the day we opened the Van DerMolen Home. Being there and watching the residents get off the bus was very exciting. I was also excited to take part of making their new place a home!

Being a part of the Marklund community means everything to me! Marklund helped shape the person I am today!

Laurie McKeon

Laurie started at Marklund Deicke Home in Winfield IL in 1996 as a QMRP (Qualified Mental Retardation Professional, now called QIDP: Qualified Intellectual Disabilities Professional). Many people who worked there with her agreed that it was such a special place! “We were like a family.” While Laurie had her degree as a music therapist, there was not a position for music therapy open at the time. She decided to become a QMRP and provide music therapy activities. Laurie says being a QMRP taught her a lot about the DD (developmentally disabilities) population and different therapies which have helped her over the years! She learned how to run the residents’ goals for Physical, Speech/Lauguage, Occupational, and Recreation Therapy, and how to document and adjust them. She used the model of the other therapies to write her own assessments and evaluations which has helped her now as a music therapist. “After Deicke closed, a music therapy position opened and I was thrilled! It was an intervention from God! I trusted God more through this experience which impacted my life.”

A favorite memory at Marklund
There are so many! At Deicke Home, I enjoyed playing music outside, gardening, fun events, outings, and going on walks around the block and to “TJ Sweets” in Winfield. When Geneva opened up, the therapy department put on Christmas plays. Although it’s a lot of work, assisting in writing, acting, preparing the residents and clients for their music solos and songs and instrument playing, and seeing them express a feeling of accomplishment was so inspirational! Jack, Mitch, Suzie, and Nick singing solos and Niko walking into the gym playing the drum are a few good memories! It warms my heart when I think about it!

The clients and residents mean everything to me! I am so blessed to know each and every one as the music therapy program has expanded to all the Marklund sites! The staff are wonderful too. I see the staff’s love for the clients through almost everyone I encounter.

Jalpa Pandya

Jalpa became a part of the the Therapy team at Marklund in 2000. Over the years she has transitioned into new roles including Therapy Manager and Director of Therapy, but working as a physical therapist has always been her favorite role.

How my time at Marklund has most impacted me
From the beginning, Jalpa has been involved with the aqua therapy program, and she says it has truly been educational, uplifting, and enriching. Cheering every moment and achievement by the residents is an unforgettable experience. Being able to help them walk in water when they are unable to on land, assistist to rehab them back after an injury, or witnessing their smile every time they feel the water are all experiences she will always treasure.

“I hope through the years, I have picked up some properties of water to tackle life such as going with the flow, being gentle yet strong, and perseverance to get through the tightest spots.”

A favorite memory
I will forever cherish every smile shared and every tear shed. These memories have made me who I am today. Too many precious memories ranging from Clint coming into my office and saying everything will be ok because intuitively he knew I was having a rough day, or Frank dancing and yelling to the song, “What Do You Want From Me?”,  Heather calling to me, “PJ, PJ” with her device because that’s what she prefers to call me for a joke, Mike video calling me at home to both our surprise, or all the feel good moments when miracles have happened during aqua therapy. These memories are endless.

“Marklund is a second family to me. My Marklund family inspires me to be the best version of myself. I am reminded that it’s important to make a difference however big or small. This family keeps me humble and teaches me to appreciate all that life has to offer. My Marklund friends that I have treated through the years have actually been my teachers. They’ve taught me to not take life for granted, to smile more, and most importantly, to love more.”

Wendy Berk

Wendy joined Marklund in 1999 and has taken on a variety of roles ever since. Now serving as the Compliance/HIPAA Privacy & Security Officer, her titles have included: Executive Assistant, Administrator ICF/DDs, Administrator of Developmental Training, Administrator of Benefits and Staff Training, Special Projects Coordinator, REST Program Analyst and Master Trainer, and Finance/IT Associate & HIPAA Officer.

What experience at Marklund most impacted your career or your approach to life

When Van Der Molen first opened, I had my desk in the staff office. The ability to really get to know the residents, spend time with them, and see how dedicated our staff are to providing them the fullest life possible was inspiring. Those personal connections with the residents and staff have continued to inspire me to work hard, keep improving and never give up.

A favorite memory

When we first opened the first four 16-bed homes on the Geneva campus, we could see how happy the residents were – their joy in the space was amazing. It was a brand new, beautiful, huge building – many of them had lived in small, cramped bedrooms, older buildings, and having an amazing new home that belonged to them made us all so happy.

Being part of the Marklund community means making a difference – in our residents’, clients’ and students’ lives. I work every day knowing that what I do will make a positive impact on those we serve. It is a privilege to have a career that is truly meaningful – somewhere you can see the impact you make every day. Our employees are some of the most caring and dedicated people I know and I am proud to be part of that.