(WFRV) – Melissa Stitz is the regional vice president of a large insurance company with a husband and three children. She is an extremely busy woman. However, she makes time in her full schedule to volunteer at multiple organizations and even started her own non-profit. Which is the reason why this remarkable woman is one of our four finalists.

Melissa makes time in her busy schedule to help others because she believes we are here to make a difference in the world and make an impact on the lives of others who may just need a helping hand.  

“When he was off medication, he probably was homeless there were points in time that my parents didn’t even know where he was,” Melissa Stitz, Remarkable Women Finalist, said about her older brother.

Melissa’s older brother Allan struggled with schizophrenia most of his life.  Melissa knows what families go through when a member battles a mental illness- the whole family does.

“From having a place to live, from holding a job or even having the opportunity for a job, staying on meds or going off,” Melissa said sadly.

Allan died four years ago. He’s the reason why Melissa started her first non-profit ‘Allan’s Wish Foundation‘ to reward and encourage young people to work with those dealing with mental illness. 

“What it is is a scholarship program for graduating seniors that are entering a field of mental health studies,” explained Melissa.

Melissa also wants the foundation to bring awareness, “Mental health is something that is often hidden or people there’s stigmas people might be ashamed to even have the conversation,” said Melissa.

House of Hope is another one of Melissa’s passions. The emergency shelter gives youth and families with children a helping hand out of homelessness, poverty and more.

“Providing programming around mock interviews, job training, parenting, education but also providing basic needs items,” Explained Beth Hudak, Community Engagement Manager, House of Hope. 

As for why Melissa chose House of Hope to volunteer at “To really make a positive impact for the next generation and my heart goes out to those mothers that are homeless.”  So, Melissa fundraises, collects donations and spends a couple of days a week helping the single mothers who live at House of Hope prepare to find a job or a better-paying one. 

“I just look at so many people who need help and they just need somebody to be in their corner,” explained Melissa.

Even during the pandemic, she coaches the young women virtually through mock job interviews and reworks their resumes, “So that way they know they can be successful in looking for a bigger career, a better opportunity for them and for their kids.”

“Melissa is able to help these young people we work with build themselves back up and get out of homelessness,” said Beth.

And Melissa tries to help them create that new life, “At the end of the day we are on this earth to make a difference and I’ve always believed that every person matters.”

Melissa is humbled by being nominated and becoming a Remarkable Women finalist, “I don’t think I’m doing anything out of the ordinary. Just trying to help people.”

“It’s really incredible to see someone so dedicated to making her community a better place,” said Beth.  

Melissa says she wants to help others “Life is short and by the end of the day we are remembered by the people we impact, the imprint that we leave on their life.”

Like helping future mental health professionals earn a degree through Allan’s Wish Foundation who could someday save someone’s life, “A counselor that is helping kids. Saving lives from teenage suicide or depression.” 

“All in the name of Allan,” Melissa said.

Who she believes supports her efforts in his name– from above, “I think,  I think he would probably be very shocked, his eyes would get big, and he would just say wow,” Melissa said through tears.

Melissa has been volunteering her whole life. She currently also volunteers and fundraises for the Service Leagues Back to School Store and the NEW Community Shelter.

Melissa says volunteering has always been in her heart.

Allan’s Wish Foundation will give out its first scholarship in June. For a link to the foundation click here.