Florida Case Manager Named Reunification Hero!

Victor Sims, Case Manager Lead in Florida, was recognized as a Reunification Hero by the American Bar Association Children and Law.

Sims was nominated by one of his clients who gave him credit with her reunification with her children. She recalled how “he brought my kids home when no one knew a way to make it happen” and said that “he has continually been a champion for change.”

His experience in the child welfare system began while spending the first 11 years of his life in foster care. Fortunately, Sims was adopted into a loving family and his experience in foster care is what motivated him to pursue a career as a case manager at One Hope United in Florida. While reunification was not possible for him and his parents, today Sims makes reunification his priority with every family that he serves.

He prioritizes strengthening  families’ so children can return home safely as soon as possible. Sims strives to understand the root causes of the parents’ problems so that they overcome their barriers to success. He does an excellent job of using innovative techniques that will help families continually succeed after their case has ended.

Read Full Article Here on America Bar Association

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Florida Couple Adopts Two Kids Into Their Forever Family

Executive Pastor Chad Dillon Was Certain He Didn’t Want To Become A Foster Parent. His Wife Adriane Was Equally Sure She Did.

After seven years of trying to have a biological child, the Dillon’s longed for a family and had always had a desire to adopt—being able to provide a child with a forever family. But they weren’t completely in agreement about fostering children. In early 2014, they enrolled in PRIDE classes. 

The Dillon’s took the classes with another couple, their best friends, and since PRIDE covers both adoption and fostering in their county, participants could choose to do either, or both. During the classes, the couple had heard horrific stories about children in their community being abused and neglected, in which Chad came to realize that his hesitancy to foster was nothing short of selfishness where the attention was on him and not on the children who need and deserve to be loved unconditionally. His attitude had completely changed and he told his wife,

“We will foster as long as we can agree on one thing—to put the best interest of every child that comes into our care above our own and the moment that we cannot do that, we get out so that we are never a part of the problem.”

So, after this realization, he and his wife without hesitation continued their classes and were ready to enter the world of fostering where they were ready to embrace every child that came their way with love and as their own. They received their license on November 4, 2014. To their shock, they received a call on the same day about a seven-day-old baby girl who needed a foster home. They said yes, and on November 6, 2014, they welcomed Hilary Rose into their loving arms, and adding her older brother Christopher into their home in June of 2016. 

The Dillon’s have fostered two other children to-date as well—but they knew they wanted to do more for parents like them. In January 2016, Chad assisted in the launch of a brand new foster and adoptive children’s association in their county and was quickly introduced to OHU. They immediately felt welcomed by the staff, especially the Executive Director for their county—Eva Horner. Chad and Eva have had several discussions about ways to improve the system of care in Florida, especially their county. In April of 2014, Chad was voted in as the President of the Osceola Foster and Adoptive Children’s Association. To date, they have seen over 50 people attend and recently have had 17 foster and/or adoptive families become official members. The monthly association meetings are hosted at their church—Freedom Life Church. 

As President, Chad has addressed issues of foster care parent retention, co-parenting, creating stronger relationships among licensing agencies, the Department of Children and Families, and foster/adoptive parents, as well as changing the reputation and perception of the foster care system. “People ultimately fear the unknown,” says Chad, “But we believe the work we’re doing in Osceola County can spread throughout the state of Florida and change people’s hearts and minds about child welfare.” “The lack of awareness is one of the biggest issues we face. People simply need to see the need and be given the opportunity to meet it, but it has to be presented in a positive way and must come from a heart of compassion because people gravitate towards passion.” He strives to motivate and encourage anyone who involves themselves in the child welfare system to have and keep the right heart motive, where the focus is on making sure that every decision is about the child’s best interest and never the adult’s (whether foster parent, bio-parent, bio-relative, agency worker, adoptive parent, etc.). 

Chad lost his own father on November 6, 2002, exactly 22 years to the day that he and his wife welcomed their first foster child (who became their forever daughter) into their home. Now that day takes on a whole new meaning. Another significant day in the Dillon’s life? September 12, 2016, the day Hilary Rose and Christopher David were officially adopted into their forever.

Supporters Gather to Share ‘Why I Have Hope’ at Hope In Action Fundraiser

One Hope United thanks the 250 supporters who attended Hope In Action:Why I Have Hope gala on Friday, May 3rd, at the Hilton Chicago and who helped drive opportunity and impact for children and families! We’re very appreciative for their presence and immense support that has been shown to our organization. We are even closer to fulfilling our vision: For every child and family, life without limits.
Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, President & CEO

“In this work of human dignity, human respect and human acknowledgement, the mission building and mission movement work at One Hope United requires that we draw community closer,” Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer said.  “You are our community. And by being with us – together with us – this community will empower others to live Life Without Limits. Join me, join us, Turn Hope Into Action.”

Among the highlights of the night were the presentations of the Ermit Finch Impact Award to Nannie Crudup (below), The Chairwoman’s Award to Patrick Kingston, The President’s Award to Todd Schultz, and the Turn Hope Into Action award to Marc D. Smith.
Nannie Crudup received the Ermit Finch Award
Check out the sights and sounds of Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope, featuring music by special guest Mario Bonds.

Visit us on Facebook to view all of the fun photos from the night. Be sure to tag yourself and your friends!

A big thank you to all who came out to hear “Why I Have Hope” stories and helped make the evening such a success. Didn’t have the chance to raise your paddle at Hope In Action 2019? You can still support OHU by clicking here.

One Hope United Names Lake Villa Campus for Ermit L. Finch

ABOVE Ermit L. Finch (right) is joined by his wife, Jonni Miklos (left), and One Hope United Board Chair Theresa A. Dear (center) at the ceremony to dedicate the Lake Villa campus in his name.

Finch lived on campus from 1948 to ’51 and became first former client to serve on One Hope United’s Board.

One Hope United has named its Lake Villa, Illinois, campus after a former resident and current board member Ermit L. Finch. The Board of Directors hosted a ceremony to dedicate the Ermit L. Finch Campus at Lake Villa on Friday, April 26, attended by the Board, staff of the campus, friends and family of Finch, and Lake Villa’s Mayor James McDonald.

Read about the ceremony and Finch’s life in the Lake County News-Sun.

Finch took up residence at One Hope United campus (then Central Baptist Children’s Home) in 1948, following a harrowing childhood in Arkansas. (Watch The Impact of Ermit Finch video on YouTube.)

Finch was born in Little Rock, Ark., in 1934 to a furniture salesman and homemaker. Both parents contracted tuberculosis in the 1940s and went to sanatoriums, after which he saw his father once a week and communicated with his mother, who was sent to New Mexico, only by letter. Her death in 1945 precipitated his father’s death less than 30 days later.

After a short time living and working on his uncle’s farm, where Finch acquired the nickname “Cotton”—the farm’s signature crop—for his white hair, Finch transferred to an Arkansas orphanage where the conditions were difficult and the discipline severe. Finch, small for his age, was bullied, and boys were frequently whipped and denied meals.

A change in leadership to Dr. Louis B. Snider vastly improved Finch’s quality of life, and Finch eventually came with Snider’s family to Lake Villa, Ill., when Snider took a position at what is today One Hope United. Finch has fond memories of life on campus, which included group meals, singing, riding horses, and tending to chickens. “The expansiveness of this place, and the lake—it was paradise,” he recalls. “This was a growth time. It felt good. You liked yourself. Somebody else liked you.”

“Ermit personifies One Hope United’s vision: For every child and family, a life without limits,” said President and CEO Charles A. Monotorio-Archer. “His story speaks to the potential in each of us to overcome hardship and trauma when we have the right support. I’m thrilled to recognize him with the dedication of the Ermit L. Finch Campus at Lake Villa.”

The support Finch received at One Hope United led Finch to academic and personal success. While on campus, he learned to read and graduated from Antioch High School, where he played tuba in the marching band. He went on to attend the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago, returning to the campus in the summers to live and work. He would raise his own family and lead a successful business career in heating, air conditioning and residential construction.

“Ermit’s undefeatable, unbreakable, and unstoppable spirit has been an unending source of inspiration at One Hope United,” said Board Chair Theresa A. Dear.

In 2003, Finch revisited the campus and resumed his connection to the place where he spent the happiest years of his childhood. He joined the Board of Directors of One Hope United in 2004, the first former resident to do so.

“It was a blessing to be exposed and to have the opportunity” to live and thrive on the campus, Finch said at the ceremony. “I’m wonderfully honored.”

One Hope United has operated the Ermit L. Finch campus since 1948. Today it is home to the CARE Residential Program, which serves as many as 50 young boys and teenagers between the ages of 9 to 18 years old who don’t have a biological or foster family to live with. The campus also includes a Therapeutic Day School, attended by young men from the campus and the surrounding communities.

Chicago Welcomes Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer

Over 125 Influencers Attend Reception for One Hope United President & CEO

Representatives from Chicago’s political, nonprofit, and social justice communities came out Friday, February 22nd, to welcome Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer as the President and CEO of One Hope United.

Over 125 people attended the reception in the Mid-America Club, hosted by One Hope United’s Board of Directors.

Director of Development at

See all the photos in our Facebook photo album.

The One Hope United family also came out in full force, with members of the Board of Directors, Ambassador and Auxiliary Boards, and staff as well as donors in attendance. Theresa Dear, Board Chair of One Hope United, introduced Montorio-Archer and officially welcomed him to the organization.

In his remarks, Montorio-Archer thanked the Board and his husband, Paolo Montorio-Archer, for supporting his decision to join One Hope United and relocate to Chicago from New York, where he was born and founded The THRIVE Network, a nonprofit that assisted people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live lives with dignity, respect and independence.

Throughout February, One Hope United has been celebrating Black History Month, featuring inspirational quotes by staff members and African American pioneers, and Dr. Montorio-Archer invoked one such figure from the podium: “Martin Luther King once said that we should never forget to ignite the hope within ourselves, and I hope that you do that all the time,” he said.

Montorio-Archer also invited attendees to take part in two upcoming events:

Throughout April, One Hope United will repeat its Go Blue 4 OHU campaign, in which Chicagoans can dine out at over 30 participating restaurants to raise awareness and funding for child abuse prevention programs.

On May 3rd, One Hope United’s fifth annual gala returns to the Hilton Chicago. Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope, will feature a keynote and performance by the Glee Project’s Mario Bonds as well as a cocktail hour, dinner, silent and live auctions, and other special performances.

About One Hope United
One Hope United is a private human service organization that offers a diverse array of prevention, intervention and community-based programs including early education, foster care, adoption, counseling, residential, and other support services. What began in 1895 as a children’s home in Chicago now serves 9,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida and employs nearly 800 passionate and talented professionals. For more information, please visit www.onehopeunited.org.

MEDIA CONTACT
Michelle Damico
Michelle Damico Communications
michelle@michelledamico.com
312-423-6627

One Hope United Names
Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer
President and CEO

Entrepreneur, author and attorney co-founded, led and merged nonprofit The THRIVE Network in New York City

One Hope United’s board of directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer as the organization’s President and CEO. Dr. Montorio-Archer, a successful New York nonprofit entrepreneur, child and family advocate, attorney and author assumed the leadership position last month following a national search.

Founded in Chicago in 1895 and based there to this day, One Hope United is one of the oldest and most respected human service nonprofits in the country. Today, the organization provides education, foster care, adoption, counseling, residential and other support services to over 9,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida.

Dr. Montorio-Archer co-founded The THRIVE Network in 1996 and served as its CEO for another 11 years before successfully merging the organization with The New York Foundling. THRIVE, which continues to operate under its own name, is a $36 million nonprofit organization that assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout New York City.

“Charles is a transformational leader who has demonstrated a passion for empowering all people to live with dignity and respect,” says Theresa A. Dear, Board Chair of One Hope United. “With his proven leadership, and his commitment to helping others reach their full potential, he is the ideal person to lead One Hope United to our next level of greatness as we work to help every child and family live life without limits.”

“I am thrilled to become part of the One Hope United family and community,” says Dr. Montorio-Archer. “When I began as a direct support professional in this industry over 25 years ago, I quickly recognized that, while our life circumstances may vary, we all want and deserve the same access to opportunity. That starts with the supports and services that One Hope United is so committed to providing – education, family support, a place to live and thrive, and connection to loved ones, as well as being recognized within our society. These are the building blocks to a life without limits, and I look forward to working with my new colleagues to help bring these to every child and family.”

Dr. Montorio-Archer has written three books, most recently Everybody Paddles: A Leader’s Blueprint for Creating A Unified Team, which provides a management model for reaching strategic alignment and accelerating organizational change through respect, collaboration and leadership. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Lincoln University, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and a PhD in public policy from Walden University. From 2001 to 2004, he served as Assistant District Attorney in Kings County, Brooklyn, NY. Then from 2004 to 2007, he served as the Associate Executive Director for the InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, where he advocated at the city, state, and federal levels for program development, business sustainability, and policy and regulatory reform.

In addition, Dr. Montorio-Archer has served on numerous boards, presented two TEDx Talks (“The Friendship Clause” and “IDENTITYphobia”), contributes to Forbes and Huffington Post, and has been featured on television, radio, print, and other media outlets.

Dr. Montorio-Archer succeeds Todd Schultz, who has been acting CEO for the last year. Schultz will remain a part of the Executive Leadership Team as the Chief Transition Officer.

About One Hope United
One Hope United is a private human service organization that offers a diverse array of prevention, intervention and community-based programs including early education, foster care, adoption, counseling, residential, and other support services. What began in 1895 as a children’s home in Chicago now serves 9,000 children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida and employs nearly 800 passionate and talented professionals. For more information, please visit www.onehopeunited.org.

MEDIA CONTACT
Michelle Damico
Michelle Damico Communications
michelle@michelledamico.com
312-423-6627

Extreme Cold Leads to Closures in Northern IL on January 30

The weather conditions indicate that it will be unsafe to be outdoors for even brief periods in the Northern Illinois region beginning tonight and lasting until Thursday. As a result, One Hope United has determined the following for Wednesday, Jan. 30:
  • 24-Hour Residential Programs will operate as scheduled.
  • All Child Care & Early Education Centers will be CLOSED, following their local school districts.
  • All other OHU offices in Northern Illinois will be CLOSED.
The full list of closures is as follows:
  • Aurora Early Learning Center CLOSED
  • Bridgeport I Child Development Center – Chicago CLOSED
  • Bridgeport II Child Development Center – Chicago CLOSED
  • Busy Bee Children’s Center CLOSED
  • Therapeutic Day School – Lake Villa CLOSED
  • Des Plaines Child Development Center CLOSED
  • Edgewater Early Learning Center – Chicago CLOSED
  • Elgin Child & Family Resource Center CLOSED
  • Glenview School Age Program CLOSED
  • Greenbay Home Visiting Program CLOSED
  • Gurnee CLOSED
  • Joliet – Placement CLOSED
  • Joliet Early Learning Center CLOSED
  • Kenwood CLOSED
  • O’Hare Child Development Center CLOSED
  • Richardson House – Lake Villa CLOSED
  • St. Charles CLOSED
  • Sprouted – Wilmette CLOSED
  • Wabash – Chicago CLOSED
  • Waukegan Early Learning Center CLOSED
As of now, all programs and offices plan to resume normal operations on Thursday, Jan. 31.

Ten-year-old got $200 to use at Walmart and spent it all on One Hope United kids

The heroes referred to in the Twin Lakes, WI–area “Shop with a Hero” event are local members of the police and fire departments.

But for the youth served by One Hope United’s offices in Kenosha, WI, and Gurnee, IL, the real hero was fifth grader Kaiden Rivera.

Rivera, 10, was one of 26 students chosen by their schools to receive $200 to spend at Walmart. Most of the students spent the money on items for themselves and on gifts for their friends and family. But Rivera chose to spend the entire $200 on items for One Hope United youth.

“I’m buying for charity,” Rivera told the Kenosha News. “My grandpa gave me the idea.”

“Every year we try to donate,” explained Rivera’s mom, Kayla Blank. In addition to Rivera’s donation, Blank bought an additional $100 worth of toys with money donated by her stepfather.

The students were free to use the money how they wished. The money is donated by local individuals, businesses, and members of the Twin Lakes Professional Police Association. The event promotes a sense of community and trust between the youth and their public safety officials.

Rivera and his family remind us that anyone, no matter their age or position, can make a positive impact on another person’s life.

One Hope United serves over 9,000 children and families each year through a variety of programs including early education, foster care, counseling, and more.

If you would like to make a gift that benefits a One Hope United child or family this holiday season—or any season—visit our Wishbook, where you can purchase goods and experiences that have a direct benefit on people’s lives, including education opportunities, clothing, therapies, and more.

Wishbook Giving Initiative Returns this Holiday Season

Unique fundraising effort provides children and families with services and tools that change lives.

(CHICAGO, IL November 13, 2018) One Hope United has unveiled its 2018 Wishbook in advance of Giving Tuesday, November 27, 2018. The unique fundraising initiative is a creative way individuals, employees and corporations can help children and families reach their full potential by supporting a wide range of One Hope United programs including early childhood education, family support and youth services, foster care, adoption and more.

Wishbook officially launches on GivingTuesday, however donors can jump start their holiday giving and begin shopping now by visiting wishbook.onehopeunited.wpengine.com to find a variety of ways to make holiday giving more meaningful.

Wishbook is set up like an online catalog, where donors can virtually “shop” by making monetary donations that offset the costs of services that One Hope United provides — as well as goods that directly enhance those services. These items provide more than a one-time toy or an afternoon of fun; donations to Wishbook are aimed at transforming people’s lives.

This is illustrated – quite literally – in the printed Wishbook, a children’s book that highlights the items available and how they impact a child and family. In this year’s story, “Sam and the Science Center,” Sam’s friends and teacher help him continue his education and develop his interest in science and discovery.

Wishbook has items for every budget, ranging from $30 to $250. Many donors choose to “buy the whole Wishbook” for $1,000, which covers every item listed. Highlights from this year’s Wishbook include:

  • Send a teen to OHU’s SPARCS youth anti-violence program ($250) – When teens have undergone significant stressors such as abuse or neglect, loss of a parent, or even community violence, they can be more likely to turn to violence to solve their issues. This gift helps One Hope United send one teen to participate in a 16-week program to learn effective ways to deal with difficult situations, which can help reduce violence in their community.
  • Preschool scholarships ($100) – In low-income communities, if parents lose their jobs, they also lose their government assistance to send their child to preschool. Scholarships enable their child to stay in school — and on track — while the parents look for new work.
  • Animal therapy for a child who has experienced trauma ($60) – Connecting through animal therapy can augment traditional therapies to help a child who has experienced trauma advance through the healing process.
  • Science center for a preschool classroom ($55) – Adding a science center to a preschool classroom can inspire future minds to enter STEM occupations.

“Wishbook enables everyone to make a gift that will have a big impact on the children and families we serve,” said Todd Schultz, CEO, One Hope United. “It’s a great way for our generous donors to give and know how their gift will be used. It’s also a way for local companies to engage their employees in holiday giving that directly benefits families in their communities,” said Schultz.

Many global corporations with Chicago offices have made Wishbook the centerpiece of their employee philanthropy programs. Mintel, LinkedIn and McKinsey & Company are just a few of the companies that have joined thousands of individual donors who enthusiastically support Wishbook.

“Wishbook is a wonderful way for us to engage our employees in giving back,” says Adiat Baker, Financial Specialist at Mintel and Chair of Mintel Gives. “Wishbook aligns with our employees’ collective philanthropic spirit. By partnering with One Hope United, Mintel is making a lasting impact in the lives of families in our communities,” Baker added.

Wishbook continues to be one of One Hope United’s most successful fundraising campaigns. In the 2017 giving year, the nonprofit raised more than $85,000 in donations and nearly tripled its contributions received during the previous year.

A printable pdf copy is on the Wishbook website and hard copies will be at all One Hope United locations, corporate partners and available to anyone who requests one.

To learn more about Wishbook, get copies, and make a donation visit wishbook.onehopeunited.wpengine.com.

About One Hope United
One Hope United is a private human service organization that offers a diverse array of early childhood education, prevention, intervention and community-based programs. The non-profit began over 120 years ago with the same vision it holds today: for every child and family, life without limits. One Hope United’s team of nearly 800 talented professionals serves thousands of children and families each year in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida. For more information, please visit www.onehopeunited.wpengine.com.

Building Bikes Together for a Good Cause

There are bicycles built for two – then there are bicycles built by two.

Last week, One Hope United received a bike donation thanks to two other organizations, Arete Wealth Management and Together We Rise, proving that a little teamwork and elbow grease can make a big difference.

Arete WealthManagement, a financial investment firm headquartered in Chicago, recently hosted a conference for their top-performing advisers at Hotel EMC2 downtown. To give back to the community where their company is based, Arete partnered with One Hope United and Together We Rise to build bicycles for children served by OHU programs. The bikes were provided by Together We Rise, whose mission is to improve the lives of children in foster care.

Arete Wealth Management sponsored the donation on the morning of September 18th. As part of their service exercise, the advisers, including CEO Josh Rogers, quickly formed teams to start building the bicycles. Fourteen bikes were assembled and lined up, ready to go for a ride. One Hope United loaded up a cargo van and delivered them to one of our facilities that serves children in care.

Thanks to Arete and Together We Rise, children served by OHU were able to bike around a forested neighborhood just in time for the last few days of summer.