Nexus – Onarga Family Healing Administrative Director to Retire


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ONARGA, IL –After nearly 30 years with Nexus – Onarga Family Healing, with most in an Administrative Director capacity, Mike Tilstra announces his plan for retirement in May of this year. His dedication, creativity, and strong work ethic have allowed Nexus – Onarga to blossom into the successful organization it is today.

Nexus-Onarga currently operates on a former Methodist College and Military School campus in Onarga, Illinois. When Tilstra joined in the early 1990s, youth programming operatedout of a single building with 40 staff and 25 youth in care. At that time, the newest building on the campus dated back to the late 1930s. Nexus – Onarga tapped into creative and innovative clinical strategies to build their staff and set the stage for future programmatic developments. During his tenure, MikeTilstra worked with the campuslandlord, Grand Prairie Seminary, as well as several federal, state, and local organizationsalongside his team to re-envision a campus and see its structures to completion.

Over the years, the Nexus – Onarga Family Healing campus has expanded to include additional residential dormitories, a new on-campusschool building, a group home, a transitional living home, and two therapeutic foster family homes. The complete renovation of a few more historic buildings, the administrative center, the auditorium building, and much of the recreational facilities, all fit into a long-term commitment to the community and the childrenserved. Theseadditions and improvements would not have been possible without Tilstra’s community and boardnetworking, andhave been crucial in helping Nexus – Onarga grow.Of his accomplishments, Tilstra said, “It has been a pleasure to be part of building this campus and mission, and to work with the network of people locally and around the state of Illinois to have a positive effect on so many young men’s lives…And I truly believe we’ve only just begun.”

Tilstra says he’s most proud of the multitude of campus and community projects his teams have completed while teachingNexus – Onarga youth invaluable life skills.
After retirement, Tilstra plansto get to work outside of the office. He is looking forward to building property assets as he as always loved doing, and he hopes to spend more time with his family and children in their learning activities. Tilstra also plans to serve on the Grand Prairie Seminary board in Onarga and continue his working relationship with Nexus – Onarga Family Healing.

Jamie Kozma, Executive Director of Nexus-Onarga said, “Mike has contributed an enormous amount to the Nexus – Onarga campus during his tenure. We are eternally grateful for the dedication and passion he incorporated into his work every step of the way. Our continued success is due, in large part, to the strong foundation Mike helped to build.”

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