Director of Career & Transition Services Matthew Kreydatus receives VAISEF Making a Difference Award
Congratulations to Matthew Kreydatus, our Director of Career and Transition Services, for receiving the 2022 Making a Difference Award from VAISEF!
For over 20 years at the Villa, Matthew has been extraordinarily committed to meeting students’ most immediate needs so that they can thrive in and outside of school. Many of our students face significant food barriers and rely on the Villa for two meals a day. In 2019, Matthew initiated a partnership with FeedMore to launch the Villa Grocery food pantry, stocked entirely by community donations. The pantry was an especially critical lifeline to families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When COVID was declared a national emergency, Matthew immediately rallied his team to prepare bags of take-home food prior to statewide school closures. CATS continued making food deliveries for as many as 50 families each week while students learned virtually, from Lancaster to Louisa County. One of Matthew’s students, a Villa graduate who went on to work at the Chesterfield Food Bank, reconnected with him at the outset of the pandemic to involve the food bank in assisting Villa families – a testament to Matthew’s lasting impact on the lives of his students. Over the course of the pandemic, Matthew and his team traveled more than 22,000 miles and delivered more than 50,000 pounds of food.
The Villa Grocery is one of several on-campus work training centers established under Matthew’s leadership. Matthew and his team also manage laundry facilities, where students experiencing homelessness or unstable living conditions can access clean clothes, and a 7,500 sq. ft. Learning & Therapy Garden where each year over 200 students are able to explore and connect with nature. These supportive resources are available to students of all three Villa schools, while providing hands-on experiences that help CATS participants learn communication, inventory management, problem solving, customer service, and other life skills.
Matthew has built partnerships with local businesses such Saxon Shoes, the Virginia Cliffe Inn, and Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens to serve as “real world” training and networking sites; he has formed peer-to-peer mentoring programs for Villa students with VCU and the University of Richmond; he is a devoted advocate for children with specialized education needs; and he makes the Villa proud!