BY MICHELLE OWNBEY
Amy Voils is the new executive director at M.E.R.C.Y. Communities, Inc., replacing Joan Hysler Queen, who recently retired. Prior to that, Voils was the executive director of Helping Hands.
“When I heard that Joan was retiring, I had a friend who reached out to me and encouraged me to apply,” said Voils. “I was already familiar with M.E.R.C.Y. because I worked hand-in-hand with them through the Continuum of Care. I really loved what I did at Helping Hands, but for me, I enjoy the calmness at M.E.R.C.Y. because it doesn’t have the chaos of running an emergency shelter.”
M.E.R.C.Y. provides housing and supportive services for homeless women and their children. There is a permanent supportive housing program that serves families where either the parent or one of the children has a disability, as well as a two-year transitional program.
“I love having the opportunity to watch these families grow and become self-sustaining,” Voils said. “It’s a different capacity, going from (working with) emergency shelter to permanent supportive housing.”
Voils said that she’s always worked in social services, other than a short stint at Benedictine University. Prior to Helping Hands, she worked for Girl Scouts of Central Illinois and Senior Services of Central Illinois. “Non-profit work is in my blood,” she said.
Voils and her husband, Kevin, live in Pawnee with their two sons, ages 10 and 14. In addition to being involved with their community food pantry and local charities, she said she is also getting back into Junior League after a hiatus. Voils is also active in the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce and graduated from their Leadership Springfield program last year.
“It’s incredible, I made so many contacts I didn’t have before,” she said. “They cover so many different aspects of life in this area; I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get more involved in the community.”