In the News

The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation Announces Q1 FY18 Community Champions

The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce its Community Champions for the first quarter of FY18. These employees were nominated by their colleagues and are being recognized for their work with local non-profit organizations, where they donate their time and energy to improve quality of life for their neighbors. The Champions’ chosen nonprofits will receive a $500 grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation.

Lisa Variot

Program Coordinator, NeuroRestorative Michigan

When Lisa’s son was young and she was a single parent she received assistance from Northville Moose. She never forgot this and wanted to give back in the way they helped her, so Lisa has been volunteering with Northville Moose for the past 20 years. Members of Moose provide volunteer services to their community, care for children and seniors, and others in need.

This year, the Northville Moose held fundraisers for ALS, breast cancer, and the local Children’s Hospital. Lisa was part of coordinating the auction to raise money for Children’s Hospital, preparing care packages for the homeless in the winter, and making food baskets for local families in the summer. The group also fundraised to support Moose Charities’ national initiatives including Mooseheart, which supports children in need and Moosehaven, a retirement community.

“Lisa is currently getting ready for the yearly cancer benefit where she is the main event organizer,” said Andrea Hendrickson, Program Manager, NeuroRestorative Michigan.” She is amazing and the money raised goes directly to benefit individuals instead of going to an overhead cost.”

With over 300 women in the chapter, they select local organizations based on causes their members are personally affected by. They organize fundraising events such as a dinner or other auction and all of the proceeds are donated to the selected nonprofit.

“I want to volunteer with them because they helped me,” said Lisa. “I don’t want any children to go without holiday presents or families to go without food. The support we are able to provide as a group is incredible.”

To learn more about Northville Moose, please visit their website at

Roberta Wachlin

Program Director, REM Arrowhead

When Roberta was 13 years old her best friend asked if she wanted to go swimming. When they got to the pool her friend told her, “we signed you up to volunteer.” There were 40 athletes at the pool that day and Roberta, or better known as “Coach Bert”, was matched with 3 athletes who were hearing impaired. That one day at the pool was the beginning of Roberta’s 36 years and counting with Special Olympics.

After being a swimming coach for several years, she was approached by Special Olympics because they needed a ski coach and a gymnastics coach. Roberta was neither a skier nor a gymnast, but she agreed and went through the training to become one. Similarly, when asked to be an Area Coordinator to organize tournaments for the over 1,500 athletes in the region Roberta did not hesitate to say yes. She jokingly said that her motto is “anything for a t-shirt.”

Roberta coordinates all of the teams in Duluth and in the surrounding area giving between 10 and 20 hours of her time per week. In Duluth she oversees 12 sports including aquatics, bocce, bowling, basketball, floor hockey, gymnastics, and more. She explained that she is surrounded by other dedicated volunteers who help build strong community bonds and help the athletes to achieve their dreams.

“Bert is well known in the community for her volunteerism and advocacy with Special Olympics,” said Ronna Butler, Regional Director, REM Arrowhead. “Coach Bert is seen as a person to go to if you have questions about how to become involved whether as an athlete or a volunteer.  The individuals she supports have an incredible sense of self-esteem, independence, and pride when they have participated in this activity.”

“It is a good time,” said Roberta. “I have coached for world and national games. The athletes have so much drive and want to be the best of who they are. I love to see the athletes motivated and achieving their personal best.”

To learn more about Special Olympics Duluth, please visit their website at

About The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation

The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is committed to transforming the delivery of human services through the generation of new ideas and best practices. We seek to advance an agenda based on quality, accountability and respect for the individual. The focus of our giving is on organizations that take a fresh look—through research, innovative thinking, direct care and programming—at how people with disabilities and youth and families facing emotional, behavioral and other challenges are cared for in our society. The Foundation also works to expand opportunity for the people we serve through employment and educational support.