Skip to Content

A servant heart in Environmental Services

Today we recognize National Healthcare Environmental Services Week. This week honors the dedicated employees who show up every day to ensure the homes of residents are clean, safe and comfortable. Their service has been extremely important in the past year, and we continue to support and appreciate our 400-plus employees who serve in Environmental Services including Engineers, Maintenance Technicians and those in Housekeeping Services.

Don’s story of purpose, professional growth and relationships among ‘hundreds of grandmas and grandpas’

Today we hear from Don Van Trieste, Environmental Services Director at Dickson Hollow in Menomonee Falls, WI. Don tells his incredible story of growth with Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS). He describes finding purpose and meaningful relationships among those he affectionally calls his “hundreds of grandmas and grandpas.”

Don started with PHS when he was only 15 years old, as a culinary server at Avalon Square in nearby Waukesha. When Dickson Hollow opened in 2016, Don heard about an open position for a maintenance technician. He smiled recalling, “I barely knew how to use a power drill.” But his supervisor recommended him for the position because of the hard work and dedication Don put into his work, as well as his service excellence. So, Don gave it a shot and ended up getting the job!
Through on-the-job training, and some additional schooling, Don was able to work his way up in the maintenance department. Now eight years later, Don is the Environmental Services Director with a certification in HVAC and a diploma from Waukesha County Technical College.
Jenny Weise, Campus Administrator, shared, “Don’s work ethic is just incredible, and our residents adore him.” In fact, when the residents learned they could support him through the Foundation, by donating to the Employee Education Assistance fund, they did not hesitate. Don has blessed residents through his work, and they have blessed him back by supporting him through his education.
Watch Don share his story:
Beyond PHS: ‘a FOREVER positive impact’

Jenny recalls one recent, powerful example of how Don touched the life of a resident and her family. “Don had a wonderful relationship with a resident named Carol. When he learned the news that she transitioned to another care center for end-of-life care, he was completely shocked and devastated. He came to my office and asked if he could visit Carol, and I was able to call ahead to make arrangements due to Covid restrictions. Don immediately left to enjoy one last visit with our beloved resident.
“Later I received a phone call from Carol’s son,” Jenny continues. “He was in tears and relayed the following story. When Don entered the room, holding a beautiful flower, Carol was just waking up. She instantly got a smile on her face in the midst of severe pain. Too weak to speak, Carol shared a special moment with Don at the end of her earthly life.”
Jenny reflects, “Everyone is such an essential piece of our ministry at PHS. How cool that our Environmental Services Director will have a FOREVER positive impact on this resident and her family!  And ... I'm sure that Don would say that the resident had a FOREVER positive impact on him! God is so good!”
Don’s gratitude: ‘There are days you don’t want to leave!’
Reflecting on his growth with PHS, Don expressed, “You think, okay, it’s just senior living, what all can I really be exposed to that I’d really be interested in? But … there are so many places that you can move to and different departments where you can really build and grow yourself.” Don truly feels the organization has “a job that suits everybody.”
Don has experienced the difference of serving at PHS. While Don worked various PHS part-time positions, he picked up work at other organizations. He explained that although he did enjoy the work, he always felt like a number and didn’t feel valued by coworkers or leadership. “You have an assignment, and you get in, you do something, you get it done and you leave,” he said. “But here, there are days when you don’t want to leave!”

Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to join our team at
“We Will” is a series that spotlights inspiring examples of teamwork at PHS. With God’s blessing, We Will work together to build a better, brighter future for the older adults we serve.

You might also be interested in:
Make Your Mark: Engineer Don LaValle tackles ‘A to Z’ with care and humor
From server to leader: Mary Kluthe’s enduring vocation at PHS
Residents express gratitude for ‘grace and dignity’ at Dickson Hollow
Make Your Mark: Remarkable Service Excellence by Mark Triller

Back to top