Vickie Reese Retires After 31 Years
After 31 years with the Valley Hospital Association, Vickie Reese has retired as of February 1, 2022. To celebrate her time with us, we’d like to invite you to look back and learn more about the woman whose service to the Mat-Su has spanned decades.
Vickie grew up in Michigan and moved to northern Indiana when she was seven years old. She describes it as a very small town with just one stoplight and about 800 people. Vickie and her family, which included her parents, three sisters and brother, lived right on a lake so they did a lot of swimming, speedboating and water skiing – she even used to slalom! She also enjoyed riding her bike several miles around the “country block.”
It would snow in the winters and the lake would freeze over so she could go ice skating. Her faithful dog, Tarzan, would pull her across the lake on her ice skates or a sled. She said, “I guess I was destined to come to Alaska, although I never did any dog sledding after I got here.”
Vickie married her high school sweetheart, Jim, who was in the military. They were supposed to be stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, but ended up at Fort Richardson in Anchorage instead which is where her introduction to Alaska began. Growing up, the only thing she ever really wanted to be was a mom and her dream came true with her son who will be 40 years old in May.
Vickie is a caretaker through and through, and finds herself caring for others naturally – both human and animal alike! Over the years, she’s welcomed people, ducks, chickens, goats, dogs, cats and even a horse into her family. At one time, Vickie had a total of about 20 Doberman Pinschers. She currently lives with her roommate, Christine, Christine’s three-year-old son, Joseph, who is a force of energy and her 16-year-old grandson Kaydin.
By the time Vickie ended up at Valley Hospital, she had already worked for Anchorage Office Supply for five years then was able to spend time as a stay-at-home mom while starting a daycare. She moved to the Mat-Su in 1988 and after a couple of years commuting to Anchorage, she started to look for something closer to home. That was when she received a tip about a job opening at the hospital. She described getting that tip as “pure luck” and before long, Vickie was hired.
When describing what it was like when she first started, Vickie said that it was a small organization and everybody knew everybody. She remembers it being just a 20-bed hospital. Those 20 beds grew to 40 beds at one point with there sometimes being three beds to a room.
Her first position was secretary II. She described her office as more of a hallway with people constantly walking through. There were three employees stationed in that hallway with other various offices just behind them. After about two years, Vickie grew into the role of executive assistant and remained in that role through eight CEOs and the joint venture with Triad Hospitals which resulted in the launch of Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. When she transitioned over to what is now known as the Mat-Su Health Foundation, many of her duties remained the same such as working with the board of directors and attending those meetings. She also managed the bank accounts, accounts payable, assisted with the beginning of the grant process and worked with auditors. She made sure that records were taken care of and up to date. In 2010, Vickie took on the role of grants management specialist to manage the increasing grantmaking through the foundation. She said she could not have imagined that the foundation and hospital would grow into what they’ve become today. Vickie describes the Mat-Su Health Foundation as her child and says, “It grew up and became beautiful!”
She’s most proud of launching the foundation’s first automated grant system. She played a large role in transitioning to an electronic system by taking the original forms and creating electronic versions. Vickie says the first of those applications to go online was the scholarship application. By moving the process online, the accessibility and reach was greatly increased. Her favorite part about her job throughout her years at the Mat-Su Health Foundation was delivering good news! She used to work on scholarships and had the rewarding duty of calling recipients to let them know they would receive a scholarship. She says, “I loved calling the students to tell them they’d won the scholarship and meeting the kids who would be the future of the community.” Vickie felt the same excitement with notifying grantees that they would receive the funds they applied for.
She says that a remarkable thing about the Mat-Su is that it just keeps growing, and so does the need for local resources. Vickie leaves us all with some words of advice as we continue to grow and serve the community: “Just keep caring. Don’t lose your empathy. Let your light shine. Don’t burn out.”
To celebrate her retirement, she plans to take her grandson to soak up the sun in either Hawaii or Cabo soon. She’s also considering inviting goats to join her family once again too. We at the Mat-Su Health Foundation would like to thank Vickie for her dedication and work to serve the Mat-Su throughout her 31 years here. She has been an integral part of our team and our journey. Please join us in wishing Vickie the best as she takes her first steps into her new chapter!