One Hope United Foster Grandparent Coordinator named Friend of Education by Mount Vernon Schools

Kevin Settle, Superintendent of Mt. Vernon City Schools in Illinois, stopped by the One Hope United Mt. Vernon office on the afternoon of Friday, March 11 to present Jennifer Witzel, Foster Grandparent Coordinator, with the “Friend of Education” award from the Mount Vernon City Schools, District 80.

The award was developed just this year to recognize community partners that go above and beyond to help the children and staff throughout District 80.

Congratulations Jennifer!

Busy Bee Spotlight – Rondout School

Thank you to Ms. Roxanne Greenberg and her team from Rondout School for choosing Busy Bee Children’s Center for their service project. Children in grades 3 – 8 came and read to our children and presented the children with pajama donations. They collected 125 pairs of pajamas in various sizes from 6 months to size 14. The children and staff at our Waukegan child care center appreciate your generosity and partnering with us in educating children.

Foster Grandparents Say “Thank You!”

Valentine's for Veterans

At the January monthly training the One Hope United Foster Grandparent Volunteers filled out Valentine cards for local Veterans. This was in conjunction with the “Valentines for Heroes” project sponsored by Congressman John Shimkus. The Valentines will be taken to Shimkus’s office in Centralia. They will then distribute them to local VA and military facilities before or on Valentine’s Day. The Foster Grandparent Volunteers are proud to show our support to those who have served our country.

Chicago Cares 2011 Day of Service Comes to One Hope United Child Development Centers in Bridgeport

On a typical Saturday, the parking lot and street in front of Bridgeport Child Development Centers I and II, programs of One Hope United, are empty—void of the normal hubbub of weekday with parents dropping of their children at the neighborhood early learning center. But on this particular Saturday in January, one would stumble on three buses full of adult volunteers over flowing the child care centers to participate in Chicago Cares‘ 2011 Celebration of Service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service to others and volunteerism.

“This was the first year One Hope United partnered with Chicago Cares,” said Jenaeth Markaj, development associate for One Hope United. “We were absolutely thrilled and humbled by the number of volunteers that showed up so early on a Saturday morning to help us spruce up the early education centers for the day.”

One Hope United welcomed more than 100 volunteers from all over Chicagoland, and even as far as Wisconsin, at the two child development centers in the Bridgeport neighborhood. The day was organized by the Chicago Cares organization with people that participated from volunteer groups including USG, Target, Bogan High School and Bowan High School.

Chicago Cares is a nonprofit organization that matches individuals, businesses, and other groups with one-time and ongoing volunteer opportunities that address the city’s most compelling human service, educational and environmental needs. Through its partnerships with local nonprofit agencies, Chicago Cares seeks to promote a sense of community and foster an ethic of volunteerism within the city of Chicago.

Chicago Cares volunteers repainted all of the classrooms in the Bridgeport Child Development Center II location. At Bridgeport Child Development Center I, the teams created four murals: one healthy living mural painted on the wall of the cafeteria, a multi-cultural family tree for the building lobby, a mosaic tile mural and an active living mural for the gym. Volunteers also constructed benches and banner stands, built cubby holes and reorganized the resource room.

Watch this cute video of some children at the Bridgeport Child Development Center I viewing a mural by the Chicago Cares volunteers for the first time:

Kids at Bridgeport I in Chicago jump, hop and shake thanks to a Head Start Body Start grant

Bridgeport Child Development Center I children are jumping, hopping and shaking thanks to Enid Chesler from Head Start Body Start, who visited the Chicago child care center to meet staff and demonstrate some activities to do with bean bags. Bridgeport I was awarded the Head Start Body Start Grant to improve their outdoor play space. The $5,000 grant will be used to add materials and resurface the rooftop play area. Along with materials, the center staff will receive targeted training and technical assistance through site visits by a Physical Activity Consultant (PA). The PA consultant will observe, model and discuss strategies regarding physical activity and outdoor play as a part of their consultation. They will make recommendations regarding how newly acquired resources can be maximized to incorporate more movement activities outdoors.

In addition online courses and webinars will be offered to grant participants. This is a great opportunity for staff to discover the benefits of outdoor play across developmental domains, learn about the features of high quality outdoor play spaces and promote movement opportunities for children of all ability levels.

First Baptist Church donates holiday gifts for St. Louis metro area children

Highland Church
In the photo: Adrian, Chanta and son Dajuan, and Mary.

The First Baptist Church in Highland, Illinois requested gift tags complete with a child’s name, age and toy wish. Fund Development Director Mary Knowlton prepared about 75 tags and gave them to them on November 14 during their Sunday worship. The tags were placed on a very small tabletop tree. Since the tree was so little, they could put so many on it a time. Mary said, “Well low and behold, they had to keep filling the tree up — all the tags were taken!”

The gifts will be given to children in the St. Louis Metro area. Chanta Love, St. Louis Youth Diversion Program/Supplemental Services Supervisor, and her son Dajuan, went with Mary to pick up the gifts. The back seat of Chanta’s car was loaded from floor to seat to roof with the gifts.

We were so fortunate that Board Member Adrian Rogier was on hand to help put the gifts in the car and pose for a photo.

Joy! Lutheran Church in Gurnee receives Faithful Friend award from One Hope United

For at least the past ten years, Joy! Lutheran Church in Gurnee, Illinois, has partnered with One Hope United during the holiday season providing gifts for at least 100 children in the nonprofit’s care. In past years, Joy! Lutheran has provided gifts for as many as 300 children as well as 15 new bikes. In recognition of the church’s dedication to helping the children in the care of One Hope United, the agency has recognized Joy! Lutheran with the 2010 Faithful Friend award.

Mary Reiling has organized the gift drive at Joy! Lutheran benefiting One Hope United for the last five years.

“Joy! Lutheran Church’s participation in the holiday giving program was started by member Sandy Slusser,” said Reiling. “Sandy was the driving force behind Joy’s partcipating in the program until her death. Sandy’s incredible generosity is our inspiration to continue the program annually. It is truly a team effort by the congregation that allows us to reach out to the youth and families served by One Hope United through holiday giving.”

For the past three years, the church has sponsored 225 children during the holidays. Throughout 2010, the church even donated new books, pajamas and socks for each child that attends One Hope United’s Busy Bee Children’s Center in Waukegan, Illinois.

“We hope to continue this partnership to share the joy of the holidays for many years to come,” said Reiling.

Mary Reiling, left, looks at holiday wishes from One Hope United children on Joy! Lutheran’s giving tree with other members of the congregation.

International Holiday Celebration at Elgin Child and Family Resource Center

The halls were decked at Elgin Child & Family Resource Center on Dec. 16, 2010. Each classroom studied a country and talked about the activities their chosen country did for their holidays culminating in the International Holiday Celebration. The halls were lined with tables of food, pictures of the children doing activities and examples of the children’s work. The gym had activity centers set up for parents to do international studies with their children. There was even a space for families to do a Bulgarian polka. Some of the countries on the list were Mexico, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Bulgaria, Germany, Italy and Spain.

There was a lot of excitement as families toured the halls, visiting all the countries.

Children were excited to show their families what they had taken part in.

Of course, the food that was presented created a fabulous festive time.

Staff members were so excited about this evening that they brought their family members as well.

Comments from the parents included:
“Thank you for doing this!”
“This is so special, we not only get to see what our children are learning but we get to spend time with other families too.”
“Something like this has never been done before, thank you. It is so special.”

The Elgin day care center is making up a little cookbook to have available for families. It will include the recipes that we had at the celebration night.

Danette Williamson from Baxter named Volunteer of the Year

Danette Williamson is One Hope United – Northern Region’s 2010 “Volunteer of the Year.” Williamson works for Baxter in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, which has partnered with OHU for the last ten years.

“Danette has been a tireless advocate for our mission and has spearheaded two major donation drives a year for One Hope United,” said Marilee LaMattina, development associate for OHU. “She organized the holiday gift drive for the last four years, providing gifts for more than 100 children each year and organized the back to school drive for the last three years, providing backpacks for more than 50 children.”

Williamson brought her fellow Baxter employees with her to OHU as well as her two children to help sort and organize holiday gifts.

“It is very sad how many people are in need of help during the holidays,” said Williamson. “As a resident of Lake Villa, I wanted to give back to such a worthy cause in our community.”

Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis awards One Hope United – Hudelson Region with a van for residential facility

Each year, Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis accepts funding applications from nonprofit agencies in the St. Louis Metro Area, which provide direct services to children with physical and mental disabilities as well as behavioral issues. In 2010, One Hope United – Hudelson Region was awarded a van from Variety to be used for its residential facility. In addition to the van, One Hope United’s St. Louis office will receive new bicycles for children in care during December 2010.
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