The driving force behind Matthew's Child, Melanie is an overly energetic, tattooed up, lover, and overachiever. She is the wife to one super awesome (and handsome) man; mother to 12 wonderful kiddos, pet owner, coffee addict, and Director of Matthew’s Child.
As a Foster and adoptive parent for over 6 years, she found many fellow foster parents felt alone or discouraged, and as a result, were closing their homes to children in need. She developed Matthew’s Child, an organization designed to provide support, encouragement, and awareness to biological families, foster parents, children, social workers, and anyone else touched by “the system”.
Melanie considers herself a lifelong learner. She holds numerous degrees including an Associates degree in Paralegal Studies, a Bachelors degree in psychology, a Bachelors degree in Legal Studies, and is currently working on her Masters degree in Public Policy. She is also a Certified Paralegal with NALA. She is very active in the community. She sits on the Virginia Family Network Advisory Board, the Trauma Informed Care Task Force, and a member of the Admin Panel for the Roanoke City / Roanoke County STARS therapeutic foster-care program.
Throughout his life, Jesse has been blessed with too much curiosity for his own good. Indulging that curiosity has lead him down plenty of interesting paths. Luckily, he grew up in a family of creative types (mom's a designer, dad's an illustrator) so most of his creative indulgences were encouraged pretty actively. All overly imaginative children should be so lucky.
That innate creativity makes him the perfectly suited to handle all of Matthew's Child's creative & design needs. It doesn't hurt that he's married to the Director—so he works for free!
Jesse has been a foster and adoptive dad for over 6 years, and has been teaching and volunteering throughout the system for just as long.
Our new marketing assistant is Jane Kleyn, of Clinton, Wisconsin. Jane holds a bachelors degree in journalism from Western Kentucky University. She also publishes a small weekly newspaper, The Clinton Courier, which she and her late husband founded in March of 2018. Jane works remotely from Wisconsin on our newsletter and assists Melanie and Jesse in any way she can. She travels to Roanoke several times each year to meet with them personally and visit family in the area.
Jane has never personally been involved in the foster care system but 12 of her 18 grandchildren were welcomed into the family as foster children and subsequently adopted. There's always enough love for one or four more.
There is no difference between biological, foster, or adopted grandchildren at MeeMa's house.
Allyson was born in New York, and 3 months later she and her family moved to Botetourt, VA. She graduated from James River High School in 2011. She also completed the requirements to obtain a cosmetology license in 2011. From there she attended Virginia Western Community College where she studied 2 years of criminal justice. Allyson is married to an awesome husband, and has 2 dogs, a cat and a bearded dragon. They adopted 1 dog about 2 years ago and just recently adopted the cat. Taking animals in need makes her feel so good. Saving and changing a life is a feeling that can't be described.
George is our mascot, dedicated giver-of-kisses and official MC door greeter (yes, you will get George love if you visit). He's been with us from the beginning, and loves hanging out at the office.
Lina is our newest (and youngest) team member, and is our therapy-dog-in-training. She's recently passed the first level of her education, on the way to being a great support for children and adults with emotional trauma. Just look at that face - she was born for this job!