OHU Recognizes Staff for Representing Agency’s Promises

One Hope United gave out the 2012 Promise Awards to nine staff members at the joint board meeting on June 15. The awards recognize employees who exemplify the agency promises of hope, collaboration, innovation, leadership and results.

Below is a list of this year’s award winners:

Hope Awards: Denny Clouse and Adrienne Patterson Green

The Hope Award recognizes employees who inspire others; present a hopeful, positive outlook for the future; embrace our mission; serve as agency ambassadors; encourage others; are persistent; and promote a culture of respect.


Leadership Award: Margaret Vergamini and Emily Blackburn

Leadership Award winners are inspiring, visionary strategists; enable others to act; model the way; encourage the heart; challenge the process; and inspire a shared vision.

Innovation Award: Katrina Brewsaugh and Rachel Stransky

Innovation Award recipients model the way by thinking outside the box; challenging the process; bringing solutions to problems; finding a better way to do business; and serving as implementers and trailblazers.


Results Award: Sarah Tunning

This award is given for being an achiever; having a relentless pursuit of excellence; being passionate about quality and attention to detail; seeing projects through and closing the communication loop; and believing improvement is possible.


Collaboration Award: Jean F. Nobbe

The Collaboration Award acknowledges an employee for modeling the way by embracing partnerships and outreach; practicing servant-leadership; valuing teamwork and communication; and promoting a culture of respect.


In addition, this year the Executive Leadership Team gave out a special Super Star award to recognize the significant contribution of one of its own.

Super Star Award 2012: Dr. Fotena A. Zirps

This award recognizes exceptional leadership and innovation, and it offers appreciation for lighting a path for future One Hope United leaders to flourish.


Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you for your dedication to protecting children and strengthening families!

To download and/or view all the Promise Award photos, click here.


Staff raise more than $700 for Florida programs with Webcasted holiday fundraiser

One Hope United Florida Region held a holiday fundraiser as part of office Christmas parties on December 15, 2011. The fundraiser enabled staff to support the agency during the holiday season in a fun way.

The event was Webcasted live from all offices so everyone could meet. Everyone got a chance in front of the camera to introduce themselves and how long they have been with the agency.

Great prizes were donated from the community such as VIP Disney passes, an iPod, a MP3 player, a Rivership Romance cruise and a Holiday wine basket, and each staff member received a personalized Christmas bulb.

“Everyone had a great time,” reported Maria Weber, CQIR coordinator. “And, we raised more than $700 for Florida Region services!”

Walker Memorial Academy provides Christmas surprise for OHU's Sebring, Florida office


The One Hope United office in Sebring, Florida had an unexpected Christmas surprise when they were contacted by Gordan Davis, a teacher with Walker Memorial Academy.  Gordan’s students wanted to sponsor a few of OHU’s foster children for Christmas. OHU staff immediately thought of a child in OHU’s care who was transitioning to living on his own and was in need of items to start his new independent life.

The Walker Memorial Academy students raised $1,200 by paying to wear jeans to school. They purchased items for 11 children in care including this teenager who received a microwave, bedding and needed kitchen items. The students wrapped every gift they purchased and presented them to the staff at OHU to give to the children in need.

One of the teachers from the Academy was moved to tears by our client’s story.  The  Walker Memorial Academy has agreed to assist throughout the year with birthday presents for children in foster care, furniture for other children transitioning to independent living and any other needs identified by the staff.

A big thanks to Walker Memorial Academy!



2011 Fresh from Florida Parade featuring OHU!

One Hope United participated in the 2011 Fresh from Florida Parade on December 31, 2011.

“We scored a touchdown with our unique football-themed float that had the crowds cheering as it rolled by,” said Maria Weber, CQIR coordinator for OHU. “Could have been the candy being tossed to the crowd though too!”

The parade has been a Florida tradition since 1947 and has been the opening celebration for the match-up between two great college football conferences, the Bid Ten and the Southeastern Conference. This year Nebraska took on the Gamecocks of South Carolina.

OHU was joined by a local baton twirling group, the Bright Stars, who completed a wonderful routine to the song, “Firework.”

Thank you to the OHU staff who volunteered for the event: Diana Campbell and Madison, Neika Berry, Rosalyn Thomas and Antwan, Barbara Moss, Maria Weber, Sarah Tunning, Lauren Prekop and Noah, Laurie Stern, Jolene Palazzo and Jazmine, Cynthia Hess-Jaffe and Dillon, Therese Hartwell.

Deborah S. Reed Joins One Hope United's Florida Region Board

The Florida Region is proud to welcome Deborah S. Reed of Orlando, Florida to the One Hope United Board.

“Deborah brings a passion for improved business solutions that will ultimately help One Hope United grow,” said Barbara Moss, executive director for the Florida Region of One Hope United. “We are very lucky to have her join our board.”

Debbie is Senior Consultant for Deloitte Consulting, Inc. As a senior member of the Strategy Practice, she supports many of the nation’s largest institutions in developing and implementing meaningful business solutions to improve performance. Debbie earned her Bachelor of Science in Financial Administration from Michigan State University and a Masters degree in Program for Management Development from Harvard Business School.

Agency Recognizes Staff Who Exemplify Our Promises

At the All-Board Meeting dinner on Thursday, June 2, the agency recognized five staff who exemplify the agency promises of Hope, Collaboration, Innovation, Leadership and Results.

One Hope United’s 2011 Promise Award recipients are (as pictured in the photo from left to right):

Hope Award: Rachel Gubbins, Hudelson Region

Leadership Award: Laurie Stern, Florida Region

Collaboration Award: Stephen Brehm, Federation

Innovation Award: Kareen Nunnally, Northern Region

Results Award: Maria Weber, Florida Region

Congratulations to the winners and thank you for doing all you can to protect children and strengthen families!

One Hope United – Florida Region wins grant to support older adult services

Grant will help meet the emerging needs of older adults in Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (April 19, 2011)—One Hope United, a local nonprofit human services organization, received a $3,000 grant from the national organization the Alliance for Children and Families to identify ways to provide quality aging services.

One Hope United was one of 22 agencies selected though a competitive, national process to receive the grant.

The grant is part of the New Age of Aging, an initiative of the Alliance for Children and Families designed to help prepare nonprofit human services organizations throughout North America to best provide services for older adults as the vast Baby Boom Generation ages. The multi-million dollar initiative is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

One Hope United received a mini-grant through the New Age of Aging initiative because it is interested in enhancing current aging services or gaining competency in the field. The mini-grant will be used to strengthen services for older adults in the Sebring community.

“This grant enables One Hope United to take a first step in exploring the need for strengthening services for older adults in the community,” said Barbara Moss, executive director of One Hope United – Florida Region. “We are proud to have this opportunity to help meet the tremendous need of serving older adults.”

According to U.S. Census projections, 71.5 million Americans will reach age 65 by 2030, double the number in 2003. By 2050 that figure will grow to 86.7 million, at which point the population over age 65 will be more than 20 percent of the total population.

One Hope United is a private human service organization dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families. One Hope United offers a diverse array of prevention, intervention and community-based programs. One Hope United also specializes in child welfare system management, reform, consultation and training. With principal offices in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Florida, One Hope United serves more than 15,000 children and their families across the country each year. For more information, visit www.onehopeunited.wpengine.com.

The Alliance for Children and Families, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011, is a nonprofit national membership association of private, nonprofit human service providers in the United States and Canada. Motivated by a vision of a healthy society and strong communities, the Alliance strengthens the capacities of North America’s nonprofit child- and family-serving organizations to serve and advocate for children, families, and communities. The more than 330 members of the Alliance provide an array of community-based programs and services to all generations, serving close to 3.4 million people each year. More information about the Alliance is available at alliance1.org.

For more information on the New Age of Aging project, contact Carla Washington, director, New Age of Aging, at cwashington@alliance1.org or 800-221-3726, ext. 6523.

One of Florida’s 100 Longest Waiting Kids Waits No More

Donnie (names changed for privacy) was born cocaine dependent due to his mother’s longstanding battle with drugs. Removed once as an infant, Donnie and his older brother went back to live with mom for another year before they had to be removed again due to her inability to stay off drugs and care for her kids.

Donnie became available for adoption before he even turned 4. It is unclear as to why he was never adopted; the Department of Children and Families at the time recruited families specifically wanting to adopt Donnie and his older brother, but Donnie’s older brother eventually decided that they didn’t want to be adopted. As Donnie grew and developed, it became clear he had significant challenges to overcome. A quiet, polite child, Donnie was extremely uncomfortable in social situations and had few friends. His most stable relative was in and out of jail. Donnie had a low IQ and was placed in special education classes at school. Donnie was eventually placed in a group home at age 9, and remained there for eight years.

During his time in the group home, Donnie’s older brother turned 18. One Hope United received Donnie’s case when he was 13, and began recruiting for him, as Donnie expressed an interest in being adopted, but Donnie had trouble connecting with adoptive families. An older child of minority status with special needs, it seemed that a family would never be found for Donnie. As Donnie grew older, One Hope United identified a family for Donnie, a single man who enthusiastically pursued a relationship with Donnie, but Donnie felt shy, uncomfortable and unable to relate. The match didn’t work out. One Hope United Adoptions Case Manager Stacey Greenberg did her best to prepare Donnie for life on his own, but worried about his ability to do so with his challenges and lack of support system.

One day after Donnie turned 17, One Hope United in Miami sent a home study to One Hope United in Orlando for a single man living in South Florida. He worked at a school, had experience in adopting and knew a lot about the services in his area. He had a passion for adopting children from the system to give them a better opportunity. After speaking to him on the phone, Adoptions Case Manager Supervisor Maribel Rosado had an intuition that Donnie and this man might make a good match, and One Hope United worked tirelessly to set up visits between Donnie and this man, making many trips from Orlando to South Florida and back.

In November 2010, at 17 and a half years old, Donnie was placed with his adoptive parent. And on Feb. 7, Donnie was officially adopted. Although he still has his challenges, Donnie’s adoptive parent is committed to being there with him every step of the way on his way to independence, which will likely happen some time from now. But Donnie will not be alone in his journey, and for this One Hope United staff share a great sense of joy.  A big thank you to everyone who was involved in helping Donnie finally find his forever home after 17 years!

Family Team Conferencing helps family of six remain together after year-long separation

Her home was filled with hope. After more than a year in out-of-home care, Jacinta Brown’s five children returned home.

But soon, new allegations arose of environmental hazards, inadequate supervision and substance abuse in the Brown family home. So Jacinta and her family were referred for Family Team Conferencing at One Hope United (OHU).

The OHU Family Case Manager Ansonio Mitchell and Supervisor Yolanda Walker worked with Jacinta to identify family supports, which included her father and two members of the community. The family supports as well as the children’s therapist would all be a part of the Family Team Conferencing meetings with the family.

At the first meeting, Jacinta identified her goals, which were to obtain an education, a new home, get a job, a car, remain drug free and explore her spirituality. The team helped Jacinta to identify the strengths of the family and what was needed to help Jacinta achieve the goals that would help keep her family together.

All team members were focused on the safety and well-being of the children. Additional meetings were held as a follow up and to identify any new needs that arose to help the mother achieve her goals and ensure safety of the children. Updates of the progress made were listed and the mother appeared to feel that she was moving ahead. Jacinta trusted the process, allowing the team to build rapport. She openly assisted in the identification of her needs and was excited about the meetings and seeing results.

“Jacinta accepted guidance, ideas, hints and suggestions that will help her to achieve her goals,” said Ida Rivera, OHU family team coordinator. “There was no judgment made and what was available to her was support.  Jacinta was able to see the plan not as added services or tasks, but as the steps that will allow her to achieve her life goals.”

Jacinta became confident in her abilities to independently reach out and build new connections in her community, and her protective capacity in regards to her children visibly grew. She assumed an active role in their academics and supported the importance of addressing the children’s emotional and mental health needs.

The team process provided Jacinta with access to new resources and helped her develop a commitment to give back to her community—strengthening herself as a woman, as a mother and as a member of society. She obtained her driver’s license, developed a strong support system at the church that she and her family attend, and practiced her newfound respect for her body and soul.

Jacinta participates in her neighborhood community watch program and attends General Equivalency Diploma (GED) classes.

“Many of us might think those steps are small, but to a woman who had a difficult childhood and saw herself as a person without a future, those steps represent her achievements and open a future and a life for her and her children,” said Will Jones, senior vice president at OHU – Florida Region.

The team process could not be successful without the contribution and commitment of each team member, which were willing to go the extra mile to assist the mother and family.

The child care provider, Little Citizens Day Care owner Donna Reed, was available to Jacinta after closing times. Jacinta could reach out to Donna at any time.

The neighborhood community builder, Hopes and Dreams Team and its Director Melody Hills, chose Jacinta as a speaker for a community meeting. This helped build Jacinta’s self-confidence through sharing her newly discovered public speaking skills and allowed her a chance to encourage others through her new found hope.

The Family Team Conferencing process and dedicated team members along with Jacinta’s passion toward her goal of self-improvement and keeping her family together ultimately resulted in successful closure of the case.

Today, Jacinta is drug-free, has a stronger bond with her children and improved her protective capacities to ensure that the family remains safe and together. She has developed an insight into her addiction, has taken responsibility for the impact her behavior had on her children and the risk she placed them in. She developed personal satisfaction by trusting herself.

The goals of the team were measurable and the outcomes were a direct result of the agency involvement. Today the family has the tools to continue to care for themselves and thrive in the community without agency support.

Florida Region's Circuit 10 collected 1,000 books for children in care

Keila Caban, family case manager in Circuit 10, organized a children’s book drive to benefit children in One Hope United’s care. The drive was held from September 20 – October 18, 2010 with an initial goal to collect 150 children’s books.

Keila and her helpers smashed their goal! More than 1,000 books were collected and distributed to the children and families served by One Hope United in Highlands and Hardee counties. The purpose of the drive was to promote reading to the children, parents and caregivers active in Circuit 10’s programs; thus, enhancing literacy in the community served.

Keila went to several homes early this week to personally deliver the books.

“All of the children were so excited and it made me feel good to know that I was a part of that process,” said Keila. “It was an amazing feeling. I encourage all case managers to take books to the children on their cases. You won’t regret it. Promote literacy to children in care.”

Thank you Keila for your initiative!

Pictured from left to right: Lia Rodriguez, Keila Caban and Brooke Anderson.