A Midwestern skilled nursing provider has put its money where its mouth is to celebrate a handful of employees and their writing skills. 

Villa Healthcare, based in Skokie, IL, awarded more than $36,000 to six employees who won its “Why Villa” essay contest. The competition challenged employees to share why they chose to work for the company, and what their work means to them. 

Villa has 34 skilled nursing facilities located in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesoate and Ohio. It also has more than 4,300 employees and 3,800 residents and patients. 

This is the second year the company held the essay competition, which featured five categories based on employees’ tenure. “Hundreds” of employees participated in the competition, a Villa representative stated. The exact number of entries was unknown

Dina Ivy, a licensed practical nurse, was granted $18,250 in the five-year category. She said the company specializes in making employees “feel like they are a part of something greater.” 

“I know that with Villa the possibilities are endless. Villa has really found their niche. They specialize in making the employees feel like they are a part of something greater. I love coming to work knowing that I am a part of a team that makes people better. I believe these qualities inspire strong connections, helps build lasting relationships, and makes a difference while I navigate through my work day,” Ivy said. 

Shanita Brown won $10,950 as the winner in the three- to five-year category. She credited the provider’s efforts to keep employees happy. 

“Why Villa? Because I found a home in a place that should be work. I found an extended family in place that most see as a chore,” said Brown, an LPN.  

“I adore my patients and my co-workers, and everyday that I come to work I know that I have made a difference in someone’s life, the same way Villa has changed mine and continues to do so,” Brown added. 

“Every morning I wake up excited, happy to go to work, overjoyed that I work with a company that allows me to help people in any way that I can,” wrote LaTraesha Davis, an assistant administrator. “It is amazing that Villa recognizes the importance of recognizing and celebrating our employees. In my 10 years in the healthcare field, this is the first time that I have been able to say that I love my job.”

Davis was awarded $900 in the three- to six-month category. RoseAnn VanCamp, a managed care coordinator, also won $900 in the same category. 

Holly Zlotocha, a director of nursing, won $1,800 in the six months to one-year category. Rukaya Al-Fanharawi, human resources director, won $3,650 in the one- to three-year category.