Deborah Blain – Founder and President

A Note From Our Founder and President

“Since coming to live in the Elkhart Lake Community, I have found my heart warmed by the true neighbor-helping-neighbor that exists here. I found this to be true of not just person-to-person, but business-to-business also. In looking around for ways that I might be able to do something extra special in the community, both as a business owner and as a resident, I found far greater and varied needs than I had ever anticipated. Through a lot of research, conversations with members of the community, and a great deal of forethought and planning, ElkhartCares was born.” – Deborah Blain

As a young girl, Deborah Blain could not wait until she was old enough to volunteer as a candy striper at the local hospital. Her first day on the job came, and she was in love. She graduated from high school and then went on to nursing school, spending over 10 years in the nursing profession. Helping others is what she enjoyed then, and now.

Over the course of the next thirty years, Deborah did a lot of volunteer work. Therapeutic Horsemanship, supported with the efforts of volunteers, was one of her favorites. Their work to help those with disabilities be able to enjoy the sport of horseback riding was a very rewarding experience for her. She has served meals at homeless shelters, bagged food at food pantries, and cleaned cages and walked pets at adoption centers. Her reward through all of it was the joy she got from serving.

At this time in her life, Deborah is directing her focus on the needs of the Elkhart Lake area, a place she loves and calls home.


Susie White – Secretary

“I am honored to be a part of the ElkhartCares Board – whose mission it is to empower, equip and encourage deserving individuals and families to lead happy and healthy lives. This position gives me the opportunity to give back to a community which never stops giving so much to so many.” – Susie White

Susie White was raised and received her high school education in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

After earning her undergraduate degree in communications and English education from the University of Colorado and University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, Susie began her 32-year career with the Chilton, Wisconsin Public School District. During those years, additional degrees, licensure and credits were earned at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee and at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. When employed by Chilton, Susie was involved in various professional organizations and committees. While she enjoyed these affiliations, Susie found true joy in working with youth from the ages of twelves through eighteen in a variety of roles including teacher of middle-school language arts and reading, reading specialist for the district and instructor of high-school American literature classes.

Both during her career and following her retirement in 2012, Susie has been involved in volunteer and leadership roles with a variety of organizations in Sheboygan and Elkhart Lake. These opportunities included work with other volunteers at The First Congregational Church – UCC, Boy Scouts of America, Safe Harbor- Domestic Abuse Shelter, The Stephanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts, and the Ladies of the Lakes Women’s Group.

The experiences of her professional, volunteer and personal life continue to inspire Susie to seek additional opportunities to enrich the lives of others.


Richard Van Evera – Board Member

“Marcy and I feel it is important to give back the the community.” – Richard Van Evera

Richard Van Evera was born in Hinsdale, Illinois.  He received his B.A. in History and Political Science and was commissioned an Officer of the United States Air Force at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1970.  He served on active duty until 1974 and attended law school from 1975 to 1978 when he began his career with Barrick, Switzer Law Firm.  He and his wife, Marcia, have two children, Nikolaus and Courtney.


Lynne Shay – Board Member


“ElkhartCares was a dream. Only once in a great while do dreams come true. ElkhartCares became a reality through the hard work and grit of compassionate hearts. As an active board member of Elkhart Cares I have the opportunity to further that dream. I have known Debi Blain, the founder of ElkhartCares, since the early days of our careers in a pediatric non-profit hospital.  While working side-by-side with her in the fast paced healthcare industry I found her to be talented, extremely caring and goal oriented.” – Lynne Shay

Lynne’s roots reach back multiple generations to the Oshkosh region where her great-grandfather, August Horn, co-founded the Horn and Schwalm Brewing Company in 1866 and later became the first president of Oshkosh Brewing Company. Family members continue to have strong ties to the Oshkosh region. Three generations of Horn women studied at the University of Wisconsin/Madison. Her maternal grandmother and mother preceded her own enrollment at UWM.

Until retirement, she was an Audiologist practicing in many different settings, most notably the Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Virginia. Once retired she established and raised funding to benefit a special needs school for a handwriting program, hardware selection and installation to create assistive listening classrooms.

She’s had the opportunity of sitting on numerous neighborhood boards: one responsibility was to create and rehab/return a parcel of land to its natural order with minimal working capital. She’s participated in the Sarasota County youth reading program and is currently a volunteer research assistant at Florida’s Selby Botanical Gardens. Her proudest achievement is the work she’s done mentoring youth & teens in her home for over a dozen years. Among the many youth, there are three special individuals that are now considered extended family for over 20+ years.


MaryJo Vollrath – Board Member

“I love where I live, and love being deeply connected within our community! For years, I have felt a strong need to help others and give back. ElkhartCares has given me a way to do just that! I’m honored to join this powerful, wonderful spirit of givers! As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.” – MaryJo Vollrath

MaryJo Vollrath has lived in Elkhart Lake for 30 years. She has raised five children in the Elkhart school system, and finds a very tight connection to the wonderful community of Elkhart Lake.

She has a teaching degree, and has taught in the community. She’s been involved in PTA, Sunday school, elder of her church, board of the athletic association, advisory board of Top Chef, Friends of the Library, Elkhart Lake Improvement Association, and the beautification of Elkhart Lake committee.

Most recently, MaryJo is a member of Ladies of the Lake, and serves as a chairman for their charitable donations committee. She also serves chairman positions at the Sheboygan Town and Country Garden Club. She’s a member of “Stiches of Love”, a group of passionate women from her church, New Life Community Church in Plymout, Wisconsin. They stitch hats for those in need. Her favorite part of the organization’s work is when they give hats to cancer children. She is also currently on the board of the education foundation of Elkhart Schools.




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