An Illinois provider is taking a page from Publishers Clearing House to honor loyal employees.

Skokie-based Villa this month began issuing several oversized checks to workers scattered among its 28 Midwest facilities. The winners submitted essays, explaining why they work at the skilled nursing company.

“We wanted to find a way to reward employees that have been dedicated to Villa, and find out why they chose to work for the organization,” said April Doremus, vice president of engagement for the company. “Our mission is to make people better, and this was an effort to reward and recognize people that make people better on a daily basis, both residents, and those that they work with each day.”

Rewards were doled out in five different categories based on tenure at each center, with five employees received the checks. Among these was, for length of service under 180 days, $900 to Sydney Lough, a certified nursing assistant with the Villa Center in Richfield, MN.  In the five years of service category, LaNece Sylvester, a housekeeper at the Villa at Great Lakes Crossing in Detroit, won $18,250.

All essay submissions were sorted through by two blind review committees before picking the winners in each tenure category. The top three winners and their centers regional leaders were invited to the corporate office in Skokie to take part in a ceremony and dinner.

Doremus says they vow to make the program even “bigger and better” in its second year.

“We fully understand and appreciate that our employees are our biggest asset, and we want to ensure they feel valued, respected and recognized,” she said. “The smiles on their faces were priceless,” she added.