Cleanliness is great.
But caregiving is next to godliness.
Just ask the family members of the clients who Rosalina Vilar cares for.
In 2016, Susan Anderson placed her mom Phyllis Rasch in the care of Ms. Vilar after she fell and broke her pelvis in more than one place.
Her mother has since died at the age of 88, but Ms. Anderson said the final years she spent in the small neighborhood assisted living facility in Peoria were relaxing and enriching, much more like a home than a big corporate environment.
Ms. Vilar is an angel, Ms. Anderson said.
“When she cooks, she cooks for everybody, so whenever I visited my mom, she always had a plate of food for me as well,” Ms. Anderson said. “I always felt really at peace leaving mom there. Lyn always keeps the ladies happy, whether it was having Christmas parties, watching Lawrence Welk, just sitting outside, or taking field trips to the casino.”
Ms. Vilar and her husband, Rey Winston Vilar, are co-founders of Family Matters Care, an assisted living establishment with two locations in Peoria. Ms. Vilar runs one location and Mr. Vilar runs the other, located just around the corner in a quiet north Peoria neighborhood.
The matriarch has been named the Peoria Independent Hometown Hero in the category of health care.
The Hometown Heroes Awards is a celebration of individuals who live in the city, and Peoria businesses for their local achievements and distinguished contribution to the community.
Ms. Vilar will be honored at an awards luncheon next year.
In partnership with the City of Peoria, Ms. Vilar will also be interviewed by the city at a safe distance and aired on Channel 11.
Family Matters Care provides home and health care to 10 residents at their assisted living establishments in Peoria.
And, really, assisted living establishment is not the best way to describe the living quarters that the husband and wife team operate. They are much more like warm and welcoming homes you might visit during a holiday.
Ms. Vilar, 63, moved to the states from her homeland of the Philippines at 17 in 1977 after receiving her nursing degree. She went into home care in 1991 in Phoenix and finally moved to Peoria, where she has been providing home care ever since.
Initially, home care allowed Ms. Vilar to take care of her four children as they grew up within the hustle and bustle of a full house of seniors. The result has been three adult children who now work in the health care industry and one directly involved in the family business.
Mark Vilar is a real estate agent and the business mind behind Family Matters Care, as the manager and part owner. He said that as a child, he and his siblings grew up alongside residents they considered family. It takes a special person to devote his or her life to care giving, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Mark said.
“Growing up, we didn’t have our own rooms. It wasn’t a big deal, it was just our way of life. The doors were always open. We lived it, saw it, and we understand it,” he said. “My parents are such good caregivers. Eventually we just decided, let’s have them focus on the caregiving side and I could handle the business side. That’s how Family Matters came into play.”
As the youngest of nine children and at one time a caregiver to her parents, the business has allowed Ms. Vilar to shine and use all her gifts to the fullest, acting as a jack of all trades to those she serves. Those gifts include decorating and sewing, as well as the cosmetology arts. She is well known for providing salon services to her residents — hair cuts, manicures, pedicures as well as good conversations. Needless-to-say, the residents are well groomed.
And of course, one of her greatest of talents — cooking.
“I love to cook! Eggrolls, noodles, shish-kabobs. I cook for all the patients and their families,” she said. “I love serving people. It is my personality. I like to give. It’s just my nature.”
Ms. Vilar runs with high energy on the purity of her giving heart, like gasoline powering a big rig through the next day. But she also has the experience and managerial skills to know how to maneuver in the health care world of doctors and pharmacists, as well as handle a variety of different personalities set in their ways.
“Its tough,” she said. “But I love what I do.”
Philip Haldiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.