CYFS Experiences the Generosity of Others
New CYFS Founding Partners Matt and Sue O’Brien
New CYFS Founding Partners
Matt and Sue O’Brien
We were fortunate this holiday season to receive donations from many of our current supporters, as well as new partners in our mission to serve children and families in need. We are grateful to all of our supporters, and would like to offer special recognition to those who became Founding Partners this winter. Thank you to Scott and Pam Dixon; Michael and Mary Drymiller; F & M Bank; First Midwest Bank; William and Lydia Hohulin; Bill Howe and Monica Verbeke-Howe; Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, Inc.; Lincoln Christian University; McCaw Medical Clinic; Cheryl McKittrick; Matt and Sue O’Brien; Juan and Leslie Raya; Rex and Nelle Jackson Foundation; Michael Slonecker; Michael and Patricia Snyder; Trinity Lutheran Church-Endowment Fund; Linda Wilson; and Neil Young. These deeply committed, caring individuals and organizations have donated $1,000 or more to our organization, and are now listed on our website along with our existing Founding Partners.
Newly recognized Founding Partners, Matt and Sue O’Brien of the Quad Cities are an outstanding example of those who are partnering with our organization. “Sue and I consider our contribution to The Center for Youth and Family Solutions to be an investment in our community and the surrounding area. In our estimation, there is no better investment one can make than in our youth and families,” commented Matt O’Brien. “The mission of CYFS aligns with our Catholic upbringing to treat everyone with compassion, dignity, and respect; and we strongly support the organization’s commitment to working together with families to achieve lasting solutions, rather than merely providing short-term fixes.”
We will continue to recognize those who have donated $1,000 or more, or who have provided the equivalent in kind critical business services or goods, as Founding Partners until June 30, 2015.
Organizations and Businesses Donate to Several CYFS Programs
Gifts cover the workspace of
Foster Care Family Worker
Our Peoria office was busting at the seams with holiday cheer this year. Highlights included singing carols with the Peoria Notre Dame Girls Basketball team; a conference room filled with gifts and piles of warm socks, hats, and gloves for the children served by our Foster Care and Youth, Family, and Community Outreach Services Program; and a stack of handmade Christmas cards made by the children at Northminster Presbyterian Church for our New Day Senior Services Program.
In addition, the Foster Care Advisory Board hosted its annual holiday luncheon on the December 7th at Second Chance Church in Peoria where each of the children received gifts donated by The Dollar Tree. “This was the second year we worked with Second Chance Church to put on this party,” commented Allison Housewright, Foster Care Licensing Worker. “They did all of the setup, supplied the food, crafts, and family pictures with Santa, they were amazing!”
GAH Residents Get Night to Make Memories
Hog Trof staff and volunteers
From wish lists for bicycles and video games to digging into all the ice cream a boy could want, Peggy Callahan and her family have it covered when it comes to the residents of Guardian Angel Home in Peoria. For the past 19 years, this generous family and their friends have put on the holiday party for the boys in the Guardian Angel Residential Program for Youth. The party, held at the Hog Trof, a family restaurant in Hanna City owned by Callahan’s daughter, Julie Heubi, gave the kids a night to relax, have fun, and capture holiday memories.
As in year’s past, residents and Guardian Angel Home staff were treated to a kid-friendly dinner and the boys received gifts from their wish lists. As they opened their gifts, their eyes lit up, and for some, it was the first time they had received nice things of their own. “We had one young man receive his first bicycle,” commented Program Director Jim Kleine. “He couldn’t believe someone he had never met would give him something so nice, and that it was all his!” CYFS CEO Trish Fox also attended the party and was particularly touched by one child’s reaction to a gift, “He asked for a welcome mat for his door because this is home for now,” reflected Fox.
Kids Enjoy a Winter Wonderland Party
Gifts from State Farm employees
cover the Springfield office
One December afternoon, a van arrived at our office in Springfield and State Farm employee Kim Burlison opened her doors to reveal 100’s of presents for the kids in our Foster Care Program. Staff worked together to unload the packages, donated by State Farm employees, and quickly covered the floor of the conference room. A week later, the conference room continued to fill with angel tree gifts from the Accounting Department of St. John’s Hospital, The Division of Child Support Services, The Bureau of Medical/Administrative, and the Foster Care Advisory Board for the 90 plus children we serve in the Springfield office.
The children enjoyed cookies, crafts, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus at a party co-hosted with the Springfield Foster Care Advisory Board on Sunday, December 15th. Party organizer and Foster Care Licensing Worker Becky Caldwell described a candy cane lined entrance and a wonderful time for the kids. “We’re so grateful for everyone who donated gifts and refreshments for the party,” said Caldwell. “Without these donations and the help of our Advisory Board, this party wouldn’t have been the success that it was!”
Children Participate in Holiday Activities
ISU students volunteer
at Holiday Helper
Sixty children from our Youth, Family and Community Outreach Services Program participated in the Holiday Helper hosted by Illinois State University students. Activities included arts and crafts, a holiday scavenger hunt, and a special appearance by Santa, who distributed gifts and books from the First Book Grant. Additionally, we received angel tree donations from employees of State Farm; toys from the Salvation Army Toys for Tots; and toys and gift cards from the Bloomington/Normal Bartender Association.
“The families in our community programs were grateful for the donations and the participation of the ISU students,” said Tim Glancy, Youth, Family and Community Outreach Services Program Coordinator. “The kids had a great time at Holiday Helper, and the gifts gave them a little extra holiday cheer.”
Our Bloomington office also hosted a dinner at the St. Patrick Catholic Church of Merna for children and families in the Foster Care Program. Toys for Tots donated gifts for the children and Times Past Inn provided the food. Volunteers from Kohl’s Cares for Kids helped with setup and served dinner to nearly 100 guests. “We had a great turnout, and the kids were so delighted to see Santa and Mrs. Claus,” said Julie Meints, Foster Care Supervisor.
Volunteers Take Extra Care to Ensure Happy Holidays
Over 100 kids in our Foster Care and Intact Programs in LaSalle received gifts through the generous donations from the Grace United Methodist Church angel tree program and the Shop with a Cop Program. At the annual holiday party, children in the Foster Care Program received personalized packages including toys and clothes picked out specifically for them by the Grace Church parishioners.
Additionally, children in our Intact Program participated in Shop with a Cop with the LaSalle Police Department. Each child hit the store with a local police officer and one of their parents to pick out gifts for themselves. Foster Care Licensing Worker Erin Pocivasek said the goal of the party and the shopping trip with the officers is to give the kids a special experience they’ll remember. “The best part for our staff is seeing the kids’ reactions to everything they’re getting to do, and to know that we’re helping to provide those memories,” Pocivasek said.
Area Restaurants Fill the Tables with a Feast
Our Danville office hosted dinner for foster families at the annual holiday party. Everyone enjoyed a meal donated from local businesses/organizations, including Community Action Program, The Beef House, and Main Street Bar and Grill. Additionally, the choir from the New Jerusalem Church of Jesus Christ sang Christmas carols while Santa made a stop to pass out presents to the children. “We always have such a nice dinner for our families, and we have our local businesses to thank for that,” said Intact Program Coordinator Jean Norton. “We had a room full this year, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves a great deal.”
Intact Worker Devon Holt
and son, Josiah, pose with Santa
Angel Trees and Surprise Visit from Santa Brighten Families’ Smiles
Several churches and organizations from Lincoln and surrounding towns pitched in to help our Lincoln office provide gifts and a holiday party to families served by our Foster Care Program. Holy Family Church in Lincoln; St. Patrick’s Church in Elkhart, St. Mary’s Church in Atlanta; and St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Mt. Pulaski provided angel tree gifts, which were distributed among the children this Christmas.
Additionally, nearly 40 foster children and their families attended the annual holiday party. Dinner and dessert were donated by Sysco and Kroger. All of the children in attendance received a gift and were treated to games and a visit from Santa! “The party is always a big hit with our families, and we really appreciate the donations from all of the organizations that we work with,” said Secretary Diane Rankin. “The kids were especially excited to see Santa this year and we were thrilled he could make it!”
Kids Helping Kids
Students from the St. Paul School showed their generosity by donating gifts to children served by our Youth, Family and Community Outreach Services Program in Macomb. St. Paul students picked from a list of wants and needs for the children and our staff distributed the gifts to the families. “The students at St. Paul’s do a great job of getting gifts that the kids in our programs will really like,” said Carrie Depoy, Youth, Family and Community Outreach Services Program Supervisor. “We have a longstanding partnership with the school and we are so appreciative of the thoughtful manner in which the gifts are selected.”
Creating New Relationships with Community Organizations
Children served by our Foster Care, Intact, and Counseling Programs in Galesburg experienced the generosity of several area organizations this holiday season. The NAACP donated several gift cards and gift bags to the teens in our programs, while the Cardiac Department of St. Mary’s Hospital and the Galesburg Community Bible Church donated several additional gifts for children of all ages in our programs.
Additionally, the younger children in the programs participated in Shop with a Cop with the Galesburg Police Department then were treated to a present wrapping party, with all of the wrapping supplies donated by Target. “We were appreciative of the kindness of all of the organizations that stepped up,” said Sarah Homan, Foster Care Supervisor. “We’ve made some new relationships in the community that we’re really excited to see grow in the future.”
Community Support Impacts Hundreds
Through generous donations from McCaw Medical Clinic, Saint John’s, Christ the King and St. Pius X Churches, and several community members and businesses, over 150 children in our Foster Care, Intact, and Youth, Family and Community Outreach Services Program received gifts. In addition, 25 families received food baskets with a complete turkey dinner, as well as gifts for the holidays. Each parent, foster parent and relative caregiver picking up gifts for the children in their homes was moved by the generosity and support from the community and staff. While picking up gifts for her family, a parent involved with the Youth, Family and Community Outreach Services Program stated, “I never imagined that becoming involved with a social service agency could provide so much support and assistance for my family in a time of need. The gifts are an incredible bonus and says a lot about how much your agency cares about the families you work with.”
Families and Staff Gather for a Night of Holiday Activities
Families served by our Champaign office enjoyed a holiday gathering hosted by the First Christian Church. Volunteers from the church opened their doors to over 60 foster families. The highlight of the evening for many of the children was the visit and photo opportunity with Santa. Other activities included cookie decorating, face painting, Christmas movies, fingernail painting, a sports room, a thank you card making station, and caroling. “Several staff members from our adoption and counseling programs joined our foster care staff for the party,” said Ellen Krajcik, Foster Care Supervisor. “We all enjoyed seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and families we serve, and we’re pleased that we could join together for such a great family event.” In addition to hosting the families, the church also donated gifts to each of the children, from the wish lists provided by our licensing staff.