Mt. Vernon Foster Grandparents volunteer at "Run to the Wall"

On May 24, several hundred motorcyclists from around the country stopped in Mt. Vernon for lunch and refueling. These riders were participating in the “Run to Wall” which occurs every May. These riders travel from California to Washington D.C. each year to give their respects to the fallen veterans at the Memorial Wall.

Margie DeMent, Lois Hahn, Gene Shirley, Lou Horn, Lee Stowers, Jean Domingez, Peggy Lott, Delores Downey, Earleen Apgar, and Lula Morris

When the riders stop over in Mt. Vernon, Jean Domingez, Foster Grandparent Volunteer, coordinates their lunch, fueling, and break and has done so for over 23 years. For the past several years, the Foster Grandparent Volunteers have come out to help Jean by handing out supplies, preparing meals, and doing anything that is needed to assist. The riders appreciate all that is given to them and the hugs and kind words from the volunteers. A special thank you to volunteers, Delores Downey, Lou Horn, Barb Miller, Margie DeMent, Lee Stowers, Lois Hahn, Earleen Apgar, Peggy Lott, Gene Shirley and Lula Mae Morris for your help. Also huge kudos to Jean Domingez for a job well done!

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!

A Letter from a Dedicated Supporter of One Hope United

Three years ago we were invited to Dining 2 Donate. We believe in One Hope United’s mission and wanted to support their fundraising efforts. Every year since then, Dining 2 Donate at Applebee’s falls on our daughter’s birthday so now it is tradition for us to come together at Applebee’s to celebrate not only another precious milestone for our little girl, but to celebrate the hard work and efforts made by those involved with One Hope United. We are proud to support Dining 2 Donate and will continue to include our dinner at Applebee’s as a birthday tradition. We believe that no matter what the cause, together we can all work together to make a difference in the lives of others.

In our hearts, we honestly believe that our daughter celebrating her birthday at Dining 2 Donate is symbolic of the innocence of children, them being loved, taken care of and being able to experience happiness as they reach different milestones in their lives.

It is a reminder of what One Hope United is striving to achieve in the lives of so many children. It would be amazing if every child in the world could be surrounded with as much love as she is. Her smile touches the hearts of so many. When family members can’t and are not providing this to a child or children, the wonderful One Hope United family steps up and dedicates themselves to these children. They work to ensure a better future for these children.

Thank you One Hope United for caring.


Differential Response Program Ensures a Family Remains Safely Together

Shortly before Christmas in Dec. 2010, Mary Nauert was running out of hope after a divorce from her children’s father. With two daughters to support, no where to live and no work experience or high school diploma, Mary was struggling to survive. Her ex-husband helped her find a small place to live, but it had no heat, no running water and was unhealthy for a family to occupy.

Mary’s new boyfriend, Keith Brumley, who was recently laid off and without a high school diploma as well, moved into the home with Mary and her daughters. Keith brought with him a daughter of his own. Together, Mary, Keith and the three girls lived together in one bedroom that was sealed off from the rest of the house and heated by a kerosene heater.

When the Illinois Department of Children and Families (DCFS) first sent a social worker out to the family’s house, the family was cited for environmental neglect due to unlivable conditions. The DCFS supervisor first thought the children would need to be placed in foster care. Thanks to a new program called Differential Response, which is piloted by One Hope United, the family was able to remember together.

Lucas Sigrist, an OHU case manager, began immediately working with the family through the Differential Response program. The program is an alternative means of responding to allegations of child neglect that are of low to moderate risk. Instead of removing the children from the home, the program works to strengthen the family’s support system in hopes of keeping the family together and helping them grow stronger as a family unit.

The family was visibly scared when Lucas showed up at their door, Mary and Keith deathly afraid that their daughters were going to be taken away from them. With zero income, the family had little to no hope of things changing. Through the program, Lucas began working intensively with the family, connecting them with concrete supports and assisting them in making the needed changes to improve their lives, for a period of 90 days.

First, Lucas was able to supply the family with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguisher to mitigate safety concerns due to the source of heating until the furnace could be fixed. Until water service could be restored, the children’s teachers at school were helpful with providing showers for the girls and even assisting with the family’s laundry. Lucas linked the family with current state programs such as food stamps and medical cards as well as with the Salvation Army. He helped them find a family dentist and a doctor. Lucas worked with the family on life skills such as budgeting, positive communication counseling, financial literacy training, anger management and strength focused empowerment. He encouraged them with GED information, secured some cash assistance and fixed their furnace so they would have heat. And, two truck loads of supplies were donated to fix up the family’s ailing house.

The family also had strong personal connections that helped support them through the crisis in addition to Lucas. Mary and Keith relied on their family, friends and school personnel for transportation, money, emotional support, washing of clothes and help fixing up the residence.

Through the Differential Response program, Lucas was able to help the family use concrete supports and natural supports to aid them in their time of need and secure a healthy environment free of neglect for the three young girls. Lucas noted that Keith and Mary proved to be resilient through the process as barriers and obstacles presented themselves.

“Though they never had much, I always saw Keith and Mary put their children first to make sure their needs were met,” said Lucas. “Through the Differential Response program the family stayed intact and was able to overcome problems that seemed hopeless. Although Mary and Keith wanted to give up sometimes they never did and continued to overcome adversities.”

Illinois Governor's Volunteer Service Award Bestowed on OHU Foster Grandparents

The One Hope United Foster Grandparent program is delighted to announce that two of our program volunteers were awarded with the 2011 Illinois Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. There were 150 nominations throughout the State of Illinois and only 25 award recipients. These awards recognize individual volunteers through a statewide award program to highlight the importance of volunteerism and community service in the State of Illinois. The Mt. Vernon and Springfield, IL Foster Grandparent programs were honored that their volunteers received this meaningful award. The program volunteers were invited to bring guests to the luncheon held at the Governor’s Mansion and were then honored at the awards ceremony to follow.

Jean Dominguez, Mt. Vernon Foster Grandparent, and Beverly Bazemore, Springfield Foster Grandparent, were the deserving recipients of this award to honor their dedication and commitment to community service and serving children through the One Hope United Foster Grandparent program.
Congratulations to Jean Dominguez and Beverly Bazemore, the Mt. Vernon/Springfield Foster Grandparent program is so proud of all our volunteers’ hard work and are honored by this recognition!

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!

Centralia Regional Library District selected to host “Great Stories CLUB” book discussion program for troubled teens

Centralia Regional Library District (CRLD) has been selected to host a three-part reading and discussion series called the “Great Stories CLUB.” The library is one of 150 libraries nationwide receiving a grant from the American Library Association (ALA) to host this series, developed by the ALA Public Programs Office (PPO) and Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). Funding was provided for this program by Oprah’s Angel Network. Local support for the series is provided by One Hope United, Friends of the Centralia Regional Library District and Centralia Business & Professional Women.

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens and Books) is a book discussion program created to provide troubled teens with an opportunity to read and discuss books that are relevant to the challenges in their lives. Each title selected for the program relates to the theme “Second Chances.” As a recipient of this grant from ALA, Centralia Regional Library District will receive programming resources as well as copies of the following books for distribution to teen participants:

  • “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown
  • “Dope Sick” by Walter Dean Myers
  • “The Brothers Torres” by Coert Voorheers

The first program will explore “Hate List” by Jennifer Brown and will be held in February. All programs will be held at One Hope United’s Centralia campus. Additional books will be discussed at One Hope United in March and May. Rita Lewis, CRLD Youth Services Librarian will lead a discussion of the book at each session.

For more information about the Great Stories Club at Centralia Regional Library District, contact Rita Lewis. For information about the Great Stories CLUB national initiative, visit www.ala.org/greatstories.

More information on library programs and Friends of the Library can be found at www.centralialibrary.org or by calling the Main Library at 532-5222. Visit www.onehopeunited.wpengine.com for information on One Hope United and www.bpwcentralia.org for Centralia Business & Professional Women.

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.

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.

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.