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Hope Talks | December 2021

Hope Talks

“The Impact of Partnership”

View Hope Talks on YouTube

Hope Talks 

One Hope United is proud to bring you Hope Talks, monthly conversations with leaders in the child and family welfare sector. By having these conversations, we hope to inspire actionable change and work together to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve. 

In this month’s episode, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer is joined by Lauren Wright, Executive Director, Illinois Partners for Human Service, to discuss The Impact of Partnership.

About Lauren Wright

Lauren is driven to create a more equitable future for all Illinoisans. Her vision and experience with building global coalitions, cultivating relationships with diverse stakeholders and creating new opportunities for growth and sustainability are at the core of the Illinois Partners mission.

Lauren previously served as the Director of Programs at Mama Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to partnering with grassroots organizations around the world and investing in programs that support education, climate justice, health, gender equality and financial security. Lauren holds a Master of Arts in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute and a master’s degree in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University. Lauren represents Illinois Partners as a member of the State Health Improvement Plan Committee, the Responsible Budget Coalition, Vote Yes for Fair Tax Ballot Committee, Westside ConnectED, and the Illinois Count Me in 2020 Steering Committee.

About One Hope United 

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential. 

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Supporting Older Youth in Care

Barbara Rosga has always been passionate about supporting older youth who have not grown up with a traditional family structure. “My heart goes out to the young men at One Hope United’s Rebound program, who have to support themselves at age 18,” Barbara shared. “These young men are important, and they deserve a chance. We can help them get an education and provide the structure they need. What a miracle to be able to guide them and support them on their journey to becoming responsible and fulfilled adults.” 

Barbara is a member of One Hope United’s Scofield-Gibbs Society, and she has given generously to OHU’s Rebound and Home Visiting programs for many years. When Barbara reflects on the struggles her own family faced throughout her childhood, she remembers that even during challenging times, she and her three older brothers always had the love and support of their mother to fall back on. When Barbara thinks of the young men at Rebound, she thinks of her older brothers. “My brothers had a strong family connection, and all of the resources they needed to succeed. The young men at Rebound deserve that, too. They deserve everything we can give them.” 

After living most of her life in Chicago, Barbara recently moved to Michigan, where she is enjoying retirement. She began her career as a billing clerk, but she “never dreamed” of the success she would eventually find, rising to Vice President at a major advertising company. “Now I have enough resources to share,” Barbara said. “I get a lot of satisfaction from sharing with others.” 

Barbara is also an avid traveler. One day, while walking back to her office over lunch, Barbara noticed a poster hanging in a travel agency’s window, advertising a trip around the world. She brought the flyer home and asked if her mother would like to join her on her first-ever trip around the world. Since then, Barbara has visited 128 countries, been around the world three times, and visited all continents and states in the U.S. A few of her favorite travel experiences include going on safari in Southern Africa, and walking the streets of Petra, an ancient city in Jordan. She believes “experiences are the best investments you can make. Traveling is a wonderful way to spend your time.” 

After Barbara retired, she was recommended to serve on One Hope United’s Board of Directors by a close friend, John Dawson, from her church, North Shore Baptist Church.  She and North Shore have partnered as donors with matching gifts from their foundation. Joyce Heneberry, Planned Giving Officer with One Hope United, shared, “Barbara’s interest in serving older youth in care, a group that is often overlooked by other people and by society, speaks to her character. I hope she feels proud of the impact she has made with One Hope United.”

Barbara celebrated her 90th birthday on November 16. Her humble spirit and passion for supporting the youth in One Hope United’s care continues to inspire members of the One Hope United community.

Learn how you can make an impact for One Hope United through a planned gift. 

Creating a Happy Holiday Season for Youth in Residential Care

Many youth who complete treatment and step down from One Hope United’s Residential programs have fond memories of their time at their OHU home. Of all the experiences and memories they create at One Hope United, former clients share that the holiday season is their favorite and happiest time. In this special guest blog, Melissa Y. M. Webster, M.S., LCPC, Executive Director of Residential and Day School Programs, and Sarah Tunning, LMHC, CWCM, Executive Director of Florida Programs, share how they and their teams create a happy holiday season for the youth in their care. 

Melissa Y. M. Webster, M.S., LCPC, Executive Director of Residential Programs 

When we hear from former clients from our Centralia and Lake Villa Residential programs in Illinois, it is usually around the holidays. They love to reminisce about activities, gifts they’ve received, and the big holiday party. 

Some children and youth love to drive through our communities with staff and look at the holiday lights. Our youth also enjoy decorating their bedrooms and our communal areas, as well as crafting homemade ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree. Throughout the holiday season, we drink hot chocolate, and bake cookies and other holiday treats. Children and youth help staff bake special desserts, trying new recipes and learning new skills along the way. 

And the gifts! Gifts are an undeniable part of the holidays, and for many of our youth, it is the best holiday they have ever had. Youth are encouraged to make wish lists, and we work with generous individuals and organizations in our communities to make those wishes come true. Making a holiday wish list is challenging for some youth, as some have not had special holidays in the past. If I could give any gift to the generous people who donate gifts, it would be to see the faces and hear the joy that our youth express when they open their gifts. 

Our holiday parties vary from site to site. Many of the young boys in our care enjoy fun holiday games and like to win prizes. Our girls talk to Santa and Mrs. Claus about their wishes. The Christmas story is read, usually by a youth who volunteers for the honor. Our oldest young men prepare their own holiday dinner, with coaching and guidance from staff. The food is the highlight of the celebration, as it is for most families.  

Some youth visit families as a part of the season. Our youth who do not have traditional families celebrate with us. We do our best to make sure those who remain with us create special holiday memories. 

One Hope United’s Residential staff, many of whom leave their families to celebrate with our children, talk about the joy our youth express. Staff members share that so many youth are genuinely appreciative and astounded at the gifts they receive. It makes leaving their own children behind for part of that day easier, knowing what special memories they help create. 

Sarah Tunning, LMHC, CWCM, Executive Director of Florida Programs 

This year, at Hope House, our Florida Residential program where four boys receive individualized treatment and care in a home-based setting, our holiday season kicked off on December 8. One Hope United volunteers decorated the three-story home while our boys and house parents went out for a nice seafood dinner. When the boys returned, they found decorative snowmen, a Christmas tree, and special holiday mugs with hot chocolate kits. Santa also visited the boys that evening, and chatted with them about their wish lists. 

One of the most exciting and unique things about the approach we take at Hope House is our emphasis on family connections. In many situations, dually involved youth – youth who are involved with both the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, like those we serve at Hope House – face many restrictions that prevent them from visiting with family members. Even before Hope House opened, these family relationships have been a priority for us. If it is possible for the youth we serve to have positive relationships with their families, we will do everything we can to support these relationships.

Experiences like celebrating the holidays, going on trips, seeing family members, even going to the grocery store…these events, from the memorable ones to the day-to-day outings, often go away for youth when they enter group care. Providing these experiences creates normalcy for our youth, and normalcy helps relieve anxiety and depression as youth settle into their new routines at Hope House. 

The boys we serve have been through severe trauma, and most of their previous holiday experiences were not positive. At Hope House, we aim to change how they feel about the holiday season – helping them feel hope for the future, in an environment where they are surrounded by people who care about them. 

Want to make a difference for the youth we serve? Make a donation this holiday season.

Paternal Grandparents’ Guardianship Finalized, Securing Family Ties

Nikia Jones has cared for her 5-year-old granddaughter, Aniyah, since she was four months old. In 2021, after working with One Hope United for four years, Aniyah’s case was closed, and Nikia and her husband, Delrico Jelks Jr., were named Aniyah’s private guardians. 

One of the most special things in Aniyah’s life is her connection with Nikia’s second son (Aniyah’s uncle), who is three years older than her. “Their relationship is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Nikia shared. “If one of them has a cookie, they will break it in half and give that piece to the other child. When they come home from school, they hug each other right away. They’ve always been this way – I can’t imagine them being apart.” 

Nikia found out that her eldest son’s girlfriend was pregnant with Aniyah about one month before Aniyah was born. “My son and I can talk about most things, but he hid this. He was making bad decisions at that point in his life, but now, he and Aniyah have a beautiful relationship,” Nikia said. 

When Aniyah was an infant, Aniyah’s father asked Nikia and Delrico to come to the hospital, because Aniyah was sick. Nikia received a call from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) around the same time, letting them know Aniyah’s arm was broken – probably from someone picking her up the wrong way – and they worried her son’s home wasn’t suitable for an infant. Nikia looked at her husband and said, “we have to go get that baby.” 

When Nikia and her husband arrived at the hospital and met Aniyah for the first time, they immediately noticed that Aniyah looked just like Nikia. That night, they brought their infant granddaughter home, stopping on the way to purchase formula, diapers, and everything they would need to care for her. 

“Aniyah has been with us ever since,” Nikia said. “She is sweet, sassy, funny, and everything a little girl is.” 

One Hope United Case Managers checked in on Aniyah, helped obtain vouchers for furniture in her bedroom, and engaged with Nikia and Delrico in honest conversations about their family’s progress. “Our One Hope United workers got to know our children, which meant a lot to me,” Nikia said. “They wanted to be a friend if we needed anything. They helped us understand terminology from the child welfare world, and worked with our family’s schedule to set up visits. I appreciated those things so much.” After three years of visits, Nikia and Delrico’s OHU team agreed that their home should be Aniyah’s forever home. 

Nikia’s OHU team describes her granddaughter as “sweet, respectful, and very intelligent.” She is currently in kindergarten, but she is already getting a head start on first grade-level learning. Aniyah loves reading, Minnie Mouse, and her older brother. 

Aniyah and her brother know that they are actually niece and uncle, but they “protect each other as siblings.” Her relationship with her biological father, Nikia’s oldest son, is also blossoming. He visits often and helps Nikia with laundry and day-to-day household needs. “Aniyah knows her dad loves her, and she loves him so much,” Nikia said. 

When asked what she would tell other parents or guardians in similar situations, Nikia advised, “make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons. We don’t want our children to grow up hurting, or asking questions and hearing lies or unclear answers. As parents, we are shaping them for the world, so we owe them truth and clarity.” 

She concluded, “These children need us. We are all they have.” 

Learn more about One Hope United’s foster care and adoption programs here. 

Hope Talks | November 2021

Hope Talks

“The Science of Hope in Foster Care”

View Hope Talks on YouTube

Hope Talks 

One Hope United is proud to bring you Hope Talks, monthly conversations with leaders in the child and family welfare sector. By having these conversations, we hope to inspire actionable change and work together to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve. 

In this month’s episode, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer is joined by Ashley Cross, Nonprofit Advocate and Leader, to discuss The Science of Hope in Foster Care.

About Ashley Cross

Dr. Cross has dedicated her life to building and sustaining hope in vulnerable children and families, and in the professionals working with them. She established the first girls’ home in Tulsa, OK, and raised awareness in the city about the issues concerning girls in foster care and youth aging out. Through civic engagement, the local church, a dedicated community, and a lot of faith and hope, Dr. Ashley raised over one million in funds and properties to house girls aging out of foster care or experiencing homelessness in Oklahoma. Dr. Cross sits on the board of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and Rochester Excellence Academy, and she is the founder of the Hub585. Dr. Ashley also Pastor’s alongside her husband Melvin Cross Jr at Glory House International.

About One Hope United 

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential. 

Don't miss out on future Hope Talks!

Sign up to have future Hope Talks emailed directly to your inbox and never miss a future episode!


Give Hope on GivingTuesday

What is GivingTuesday? 

GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. This day of generosity was built by a broad coalition of individuals, nonprofits, community groups, and businesses. Over the past nine years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and make a positive impact with causes they care deeply about.  

GivingTuesday falls each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, GivingTuesday is on November 30. The holiday season can be a difficult time for many children and families, including children in foster and residential homes, and parents struggling to make ends meet. And while we’ve all faced unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges are felt even more by children in unstable circumstances, like youth experiencing frequent moves in foster care. GivingTuesday is a time to practice radical generosity, and support One Hope United’s efforts to provide life-changing services to these children and families all year round.

One Hope United donors are people who want to make sure that every child and family has the resources and support they need to thrive. Together, we can see One Hope United’s vision become reality: For Every Child and Family, Life Without Limits.  

How to Get Involved 

Donate to Wishbook: Wishbook gives you the opportunity to directly impact the children and families we serve by contributing to One Hope United’s Annual Fund. The Annual Fund helps provide children and families with necessary services, programs, and assistance.

This year, One Hope United has an exciting donation match opportunity! If OHU raises $10,000 on GivingTuesday, a community foundation will make a matching donation, so your gift will go twice as far for the children and families we serve. You can donate to Wishbook here. 

Post on social media: This year, One Hope United is launching the #GiveHopeChallenge21 on GivingTuesday. OHU’s #GiveHopeChallenge21 means giving loudly, and inspiring others to join in making a difference for the thousands of children, youth, and families we serve each year. This GivingTuesday, you can share that you’re supporting us on social media to inspire others to give.

Be sure to follow along with our social media channels on GivingTuesday! We will be sharing stories of hope throughout the day, and we encourage our supporters to share what the #GiveHopeChallenge21 means to them. 

Thank you for showing your support for the children and families we serve on GivingTuesday! 

About One Hope United 

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential.

Healing on the Path to Family Reunification

If a biological parent can gain the tools and resources they need to provide a safe and happy home for their child, reunification is likely to be the primary outcome of a foster care placement. Reunification is an incredible milestone, and can only be possible with community support. The people who work with families on the path to reunification, like foster parents and case workers, make an impact that will be felt in families and communities for generations to come. 

After mother and baby tested positive for illegal drugs at birth, Katy’s* son, Ben*, was placed in foster care. Katy received services from One Hope United, and she later elected to participate in a voluntary home visiting program. After more than seven months apart, on August 27, 2021, Katy was reunited with her son. Katy and her OHU Case Manager, Maria Guzman, have continued their close relationship, and communicate regularly. Maria told Katy she will always be available if she needs anything. Maria said, “my job is to make sure Ben is safe at all times, and that Katy has someone in her life that she can count on.” Maria still visits Katy and Ben once a week to check on their progress, and though DCF only required Katy to participate in one parenting class, she has chosen to enroll in two programs for additional support. Maria described Ben as “a happy, healthy, chunky little baby.” 

“Katy accepted any and all help offered to her,” Maria shared. “She was always on time or early for visits, and came prepared with diapers, wipes, extra clothes, formula, and even a small bed for Ben to nap in.” 

Maria worked closely with Katy week-by-week to complete her case plan, often texting or talking on the phone with Katy after hours to answer parenting questions, and to check in on Katy’s mental health. Katy enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program soon after Ben was placed in foster care. Because Ben was removed at birth, Katy had about 3 hours each week to visit and bond with her child. After a few months, Katy had the funds she needed to sign a home lease, and soon after, Maria was able to conduct a home study. Katy moved closer to reunification when she was approved for unsupervised home visits. 

“Katy approached any feedback we shared with her with an open mind. She has a positive outlook on life and was consistently cheerful and engaged when spending time with Ben during visits. Even today, she will say things like ‘teething irritability is the best thing ever,’ because she is able to be there with Ben for that developmental milestone,” Maria said. 

Katy faced significant obstacles on her journey toward building a happy life for Ben and for herself, many of which originated in her childhood, which left her with little support from her family. Throughout their childhood, Katy’s siblings had an open case with child protective services, but their mother often pressured them to hide the truth of their lives from their caseworkers. She and her siblings silently endured abuse from their mother, as well as mood swings caused by their mother’s multiple personality disorder.

Katy’s older brother often sheltered her and her younger siblings from the worst of the abuse, and he mostly raised his younger siblings on his own. When he passed away, Katy struggled with depression, and felt the walls that had housed her childhood trauma for so long coming down. After Katy’s mother kidnapped her niece and tried to coach Katy on what to say to authorities at the hospital, she “felt the blinders coming off of her eyes,” and realized her mother did the same to her and her siblings as children. When Katy’s niece was placed in foster care, and Katy could not claim guardianship of her niece, she turned to drugs to cope. Katy tried to begin counseling, but could not continue sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. She became pregnant with her son Ben less than one year later. 

After working for nearly a year to be reunited with Ben, Katy is working with a psychiatrist who has helped her see that she can have “a healthier, more positive mental health baseline.” She has also completed a substance abuse program and is now sober. Katy is currently participating in several family programs and services voluntarily, including a support group for parents who have been recently reunified with their children. Katy shared that she finds comfort and support in conversation with other parents who have experienced similar struggles. She shared, “If I had known these support systems were available when my niece was in my care, I would have taken advantage of them.” 

Katy’s long-term goal is to move where she can be closer to extended family members who provide unconditional love and support. Her case will be open for an additional six months, during which time Maria will conduct unannounced home visits. Katy will also continue to engage with parent support groups as part of her family safety plan. 

Ben is now seven months old. Katy shared that she feels relieved to be able to care for her baby, and is now enjoying their creative routine, which is centered around Ben’s cognitive development. They went to the beach together for the first time on August 28, one day after reunification. 

Maria concluded, “Katy is a beautiful person, and Ben’s happy smile is contagious. If Katy continues on the road she has chosen, she will be successful.” 

*Names have been changed to protect privacy. 

 

Want to support One Hope United’s efforts to help children, youth and families lead happy, healthy lives? Make a gift here.

Continuing a Legacy of Servant Leadership 

Pictured: Clarke Robinson with his four children at his 90th birthday. Left to right: Sarah Michael, Philip Robinson, Clarke Robinson (center, seated), Jim Robinson, and Becky Reeve.

Clarke Robinson held many titles in his life: student, Harvard-educated lawyer, husband, father, church leader, quilter, rare book collector, history enthusiast, and early childhood education advocate. As one of the founding members of One Hope United’s Scofield-Gibbs Society, Clarke’s spirit of service will continue through his charitable major trust. Because of Clarke’s generosity and commitment to One Hope United’s mission, the organization will have the resources it needs to serve thousands of children and families for years to come. 

Clarke’s passion for giving back began at an early age. After moving from New England to Mount Prospect, Illinois as a child, his family soon became active in the Baptist Church in their neighborhood. Clarke also met his wife of 56 years, Lucia, through her father, who was the pastor at their church. For many years, Clarke’s church supported the Central Baptist Orphanage – the organization that would one day be known as One Hope United. 

Becky Reeve, Clarke’s daughter, shared, “My dad was a humble servant throughout his entire life. He always did what he could to help people, often quietly and without seeking recognition. He understood that in life, you plant seeds, often without knowing what will come of your efforts – but you plant seeds for future growth and happiness for your loved ones, and for your community.” 

After attending Harvard Law School, Clarke returned home to Illinois, where he served as a Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer in Chicago for over 40 years. Through their church and philanthropic involvement, Clarke and Lucia learned more about foster care, and even though they had four biological children already, they answered the call to become foster parents. Their teenage foster son was with them for five years, and their foster son later shared that he felt their family “saved his life.” He served in the United States Marine Corps and has built a happy life with his wife and three children. Years later, he spoke at a One Hope United board meeting about his experiences in foster care. He shared that when he was growing up, he heard a lot of kids say they wanted to be a police officer, fire fighter, or teacher. What he wanted was to be a parent like Clarke. 

Soon after welcoming his foster son into his family, Clarke joined the Central Baptist Children’s Home’s Board of Directors. He served as Chairman of the Board for many years, and saw the organization through several periods of growth, including the organization’s expansion into early learning. Clarke became closely involved with OHU’s preschool programs, developing an interest in the connection between early learning and children’s future academic development. 

Clarke said, “I grew my understanding of the needs of children, and I’m generally very satisfied with what I’ve seen and what I’ve been able to do with One Hope United.” He also shared that one of his favorite aspects of his involvement with OHU was bringing members of his church to tour and read to children at the Elgin Early Learning Center. 

Clarke’s daughter, Becky, shared that Clarke was able to accomplish so much in his life because he had a loving partner standing beside him. “A lot of what he was able to do at OHU was done with and because of mom,” Becky said. “They showed us kids the importance of giving what we could to our community.” The Robinson family also enjoyed supporting and volunteering at many One Hope United events throughout the years, including the Annual Charity Golf Outing. 

“Clarke was humble and unassuming, considering all he accomplished personally and professionally,” said Joyce Heneberry, Planned Giving Officer at One Hope United. “He approached our early learning programs with such intellect and curiosity. I admire him so much.”

RJ Young, former Chairman of One Hope United’s Board of Directors, and Joyce Heneberry felt privileged to present One Hope United’s Life Director Award to Clarke at his church. Clarke passed away in March of 2021. He is survived by four children, eleven grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren. One Hope United is grateful for the spirit of love, service, and generosity Clarke shared with our organization, and the impact he continues to have in the lives of the children and families we serve. 

 

Learn how you can make an impact for One Hope United through a planned gift.

 

Building the Mindset for a Social Services Career

Guest blog written by Melissa Y.M. Webster, M.S., LCPC, Executive Director of One Hope United’s Residential and Day School Programs

With the employment landscape changing every day in this country, industries like social welfare must adapt and innovate in order to continue to provide the critical, often life-saving services our young people need. I supervise One Hope United’s residential programs, which provide live-in care for youth whose needs are best addressed in a highly structured environment. The young adults we serve have a history of trauma, and they need our support 24 hours a day. While the situations we face are often painful and overwhelming, our work is also incredibly rewarding. My staff and I go home every day knowing that we helped a young person feel seen and loved.  

You can imagine the challenges a global pandemic and employment crisis pose in our line of work. While these obstacles are significant, our team is working hard to meet the present moment head on. 

When considering what makes our programs unique and how we have been able to respond during this time, I have found three unique approaches that we have taken have helped us find the best people to serve our youth. If you are interested in a career in social services, whether it be as a residential youth care worker or a similar position, these tips can help you gain the tools you need to build your career – and in turn, make a difference in someone’s life. 

First, find your why. This is imperative for staff members at every level, from senior managers to entry-level youth care workers. Once you know why you are here, you can encourage those around you. I have young team members who have served youth and families for over 10 years. Many started when they were 21 or 22 years old, and they have remained in the field and at One Hope United. 

Our world is full of opportunities, and many of these talented and committed team members could find meaningful and lucrative employment in a myriad of fields. Why do they choose One Hope United? There are many reasons, but I believe the biggest reason is that these young professionals have found their “why.” 

Simon Senek gave a highly viewed Ted Talk on finding your why: your purpose, your calling, your beliefs. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Why this job and why stay?

I have done this work for a long time. I know why I am here, and what drives me to keep doing this hard work every day. My residential team members have found their whys. They are pulled out of bed in the morning by a love of serving teens who have suffered trauma, who often have mental health issues and behavior disorders. The days are always challenging, and sometimes the struggles our youth face drive people away. But those who stay do so because they have found greater purpose in remaining committed to extremely demanding yet fulfilling work.

Next, find your team. Social services professionals are team driven. We work seven days a week, 24 hours a day. We do it because we are committed to our youth, but we also do it because we are committed to each other. 

Residential folks have found a tribe in their team members. At One Hope United, we are a team of people who share a passion to serve this population of youth. We serve alongside inspiring professionals and paraprofessionals who, in the deepest part of their souls, want the world to be a better place, one youth at a time. What a blessing it is to have a workplace where we come together, see a vision for a different kind of world, and work with people we like and respect to reach that vision. Once you find your why and your team, it is hard to imagine doing anything else. 

Finally, help others see the value of what we do. Most of our residential programs at One Hope United had their roots in orphanages founded over 125 years ago. There is a mythos in our culture around the orphanage and orphans: think of Dicken’s Oliver Twist and Annie. It’s important that whenever we can, we challenge misconceptions about the work we do, and help our friends, family members, and the general public gain a more accurate understanding of what modern residential programs actually look like. 

When people learn what I do, they always want to know more. They always want to hear the stories. What I am proud to tell you after almost a quarter of a century in this field is that we make a difference. From the first youth served at the beginning of my career to now, many of them still reach out. They tell us we made an impact in their lives: who they are today was in part shaped by us. We see their children, their work, and who they have become as an adult. They share their accomplishments and their challenges. 

A key part of attracting the right people to serve our youth is finding people who care that the work they do today will create happier and more successful adults, five, ten, twenty-five or fifty years in the future. Many jobs are rewarding, but our careers help support a shifted trajectory of the lives of youth who have suffered physical, sexual, and emotional abuse in the most traumatic ways possible. 

Final Thoughts: Even as essential workers who have been on the frontline throughout this challenging time, our focus remains on providing the highest standard of care possible to the vulnerable youth we serve. Our young people deserve the opportunity to build happy, healthy lives, and we help equip them with the tools they need to do so. I know that if you choose a career in social services, you will find fulfillment in a mission centered around serving others.

Want to make a difference in the life of a child, youth, or family? Learn about current employment opportunities with One Hope United here. 

Hope Talks | August 2021

Hope Talks

“Advocating for Affordable Child Care and Education”

View Hope Talks on YouTube

Hope Talks 

One Hope United is proud to bring you Hope Talks, monthly conversations with leaders in the child and family welfare sector. By having these conversations, we hope to inspire actionable change and work together to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve. 

In this month’s episode, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer is joined by April Janney, President & CEO of Illinois Action for Children, to discuss Advocating for Affordable Child Care and Education.

About April Janney

April Janney is the President and CEO of Illinois Action for Children. Janney was named to this position in January 2021 after serving as Acting President and CEO since June 2020.

Working with children in Chicago and throughout Illinois to foster positive outcomes has been April Janney’s passion for more than 30 years. Prior to becoming President and CEO, Janney served as IAFCs Senior VP of Operations and Senior VP of Programs.

Before joining the Illinois Action for Children leadership team as Director of Provider Programs in 2010, Janney provided school-age programming through a career that spanned 21 years with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs Chicago. Janney earned her master’s degree in Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Management from Roosevelt University as a Woodruff Fellow and holds a bachelor’s Science degree in Education: Early Childhood and Special Education from Chicago State University.

About One Hope United 

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential. 

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