Who We Are

Every day a small team of Peoria Friendship House staff work together to respond to the chaotic issues that threaten to keep Peoria’s neediest men, women and children living in poverty. Together we assess the obstacles that prevent these families from finding hope and then guide, encourage and provide critical services that keep them from sinking in despair. One by one, these families gain the skills and resources that lift them from generations of poverty. We feed, clothe them and can put a roof over their heads, but we also equip them with skills that teach them to help themselves. While they work hard through an achievement plan, we stay with them by providing compassionate case management. They are encouraged to keep trying when they are tempted to give up. They gain confidence and dignity that gives them the strength to achieve more than they dreamed possible.

We serve our neighbors with no judgment, plenty of respect and a hearty dose of truth concerning the possibility for transformation in their lives. It takes courage when life is tough, but it’s much easier when you have the qualified staff of Peoria Friendship House cheering you on.

Melanie McNiff


 Director of Development

Phone: 309.671.5208

Email: MMcNiff@Friendship.House

Sandy Arreguin

Interim CEO/President

Phone: 309.671.5200

Email: SArreguin@Friendship.House

Catalina Zavala

A.C.E.S. Manager

Phone: 309.671.5200

Email: CZavala@Friendship.House


*Habla Español

Catalina is one of our bilingual team members. She heads our Latino Outreach program. The outreach program gathers every Tuesday morning for fellowship and knitting.

Wesley Garrard

A.C.E.S. Manager

Phone: 309.671.5200

Email: WGarrard@Friendship.House


Wesley began working at Peoria Friendship House in June of 2015 as the ACES Manager of Youth Education. Prior to joining the team, Wesley worked with Skill Sprout LLC as their Lead Instructor in Science and Technology enrichment program, providing children with fun, and productive educational enrichment. He has coached robotics teams for FIRST Lego League for three years and started Peoria Friendship House’s first robotics team in 2015. They brought home the Judge’s Award in their very first Lego League competition.

 Wesley attended Illinois State University. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Anthropology with a minor in History Education. Outside of Peoria Friendship House, Wesley works as an event coordinator for the Pekin Park District providing survival games in Pekin’s McNaughten Park. He also writes and photographs for the British car magazine Moss Motoring. He is also the Partnership Liaison for the Champagne British Car Festival in Bloomington, Il.

In his free time, Wesley enjoys restoring and racing vintage cars and motorcycles. He plays guitar and ukulele with Peoria area blues and folk bands. Wesley also enjoys woodworking and making clothing.
Wesley is a lifelong student. He enjoys seeking out every opportunity to learn something new. He hopes to pass the love of learning onto students in our Friendship House Academy.

Fred Stewart 

A.C.E.S. Manager

Phone: 309.671.5200

Email: FStewart@Friendship.House

Mike Alexander

Facility Manager

Phone: 309.671.5200

Email: MAlexander@Friendship.House