FISH coordinator reflects on career

FISH Ranchos Family Service Center coordinators Chandelle Heffelfinger, Gail Funk, and Diane Schachterle, who will retire at the end of May.

FISH Ranchos Family Service Center coordinators Chandelle Heffelfinger, Gail Funk, and Diane Schachterle, who will retire at the end of May.
Amy Roby

After five years at the FISH Family Service Center in the Gardnerville Ranchos, things are coming full circle for center coordinator Diane Schachterle.

Schachterle was a volunteer with the nonprofit Friends in Service Helping organization in Carson City before taking her job in the Ranchos, and she will round out the rest of her working days at the capital city location before retiring May 31.

When she accepted the coordinator position in 2018, Schachterle said the Ranchos Family Service Center faced numerous challenges and was at risk of closing. She was the fifth person over the course of eight years to run the center, and she recognized right away that one of the most pressing issues was to establish consistent operating hours.

Schachterle worked diligently to spread the word about the center and started recruiting for volunteers. Her early efforts included planning a successful grand re-opening celebration that invited the community to come learn more about programs and services offered through FISH and enjoy a complimentary BBQ meal from the Bus Boy food truck.

One of the first people to answer Schachterle’s call for volunteers was Gail Funk, who had recently relocated from Alaska and had brought a friend who was in need of resources to the Family Service Center for support.

This was about a month after Schachterle started working at the center and when the possibility of volunteering was brought up, Funk immediately raised her hand.

Funk’s early volunteering efforts were dedicated to managing the clothing donations a few hours a week. Her duties and hours expanded along with the growth of the Ranchos Family Service Center’s client roster, and Funk was hired on full time in 2021.

Schachterle and Funk have worked closely with new FISH employee Chandelle Heffelfinger during the transition time leading toward Schachterle’s retirement. Heffelfinger has lived in Douglas County for more than four decades and brings a diverse, service-based background to the position.

Heffelfinger said she “absolutely adore[s] the Carson Valley,” and looks forward to serving the local community and being part of an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those who are trying to help themselves.

Schachterle said the clients she’s gotten to work with over the years are her favorite part of her job and that she is inspired by those she has gotten to know.

“I love my people…everyone who walks in that door. I’m a grandma, and I love everyone like a grandma,” she said. “We become a part of people’s lives…the connections are what’s most important.”

Looking ahead, Schachterle’s retirement plans include ample travel with her husband. Their first foray will be a drive to Winnipeg, Canada to attend the World Police & Fire Games, in which Schachterle’s husband will participate. They’ll be accompanied by “one or more” grandkids in their trailer, and they’ve planned stops at Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, and Yellowstone National Park on their way back home.

“…[We’ll stop at] all the things you should see, that grandsons should see,” Schachterle said with a smile.

The mission of FISH is “Providing Food, Instruction, Shelter, and Healthcare to community members in need, so that they may improve their self-sufficiency through life-changing experiences” ( The Ranchos Family Service Center location is 921 Mitch Drive in Gardnerville. The center offers food, clothing, toiletries, blankets, and books, and supports clients in connecting with other resources and programs. Hours are 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday with hours extended to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. Volunteer opportunities are available; call the center at 775-265-3474 for more information.

The FISH Ranchos Family Service Center accepts donations of food, housewares (pots and pans, utensils, etc.), bedding, linens, and coats. Other clothing donations should be taken to the FISH Thrift Store located at 1561 Highway 395 in Minden.

Amy Roby can be reached at


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