Welcome to the new onehopeunited.wpengine.com

Creativity. Curiosity. Joy. Love. Growth. Exploration.

These are some of the words that I return to again and again when I think about the amazing work our staff at One Hope United carries out every day.

Our clients are diverse, as are their needs, interests, and desires. From a young parent working to give their child the best start in life, to the teenager who may be transitioning from the juvenile justice system to living on their own, to the children in our early learning programs (like the little guy above, who spends his days growing and exploring at our Elgin Child & Family Resource Center), to the family that’s receiving counseling in order to strengthen their bond: all are part of our ecosystem of investing in children and families.

OHU has been doing what we do for over 120 years. We draw upon our rich history to inform the present and inspire future endeavors. That’s why I’m so excited to introduce our brand new website, which we hope will let visitors like you get to know more about us as an organization, and identify programs and services that you or someone you know might want to explore further.

In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out new features and stories so you can meet the clients, staff, volunteers, and supporters who comprise the core of who we are at OHU.  The new onehopeunited.wpengine.com features more photos and video – along with social sharing tools – to make it a truly interactive experience. It’s also mobile friendly, so you can read on the go using your phone or tablet.

I like to think of our website as the digital front door to the organization.  It’s my hope that we can convey online all that goes on behind the scenes as we work to transform lives and communities.

I know that if you were to visit any of our offices or child development centers, you’d experience the warmth, caring, and compassion that our talented staff of experienced professionals bring to their work every day.  This new website hopefully gives you a glimpse of all that and compels you to get involved.

So welcome; we’re glad to have you here. Stop by and visit any time you like.

-Em Hall
SVP, Marketing and Technology

Support OHU’s Teachers!

One Hope United’s Early Learning and Child Development Line of Service is dedicated to educating, nourishing, and empowering young children and families at our 12 Child Development Centers throughout the Chicago area and its suburbs. Our centers serve more than 2,100 children and meet all goals for social/emotional, cognitive, language and physical development. Currently, 10 out of 11 of our eligible centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)–putting them in the top 10% of early childhood education programs nationally.

At One Hope United, our teachers work tirelessly to ensure that they are providing the best quality education for our students. Unfortunately, due to the current Illinois budget crisis, funds for teacher development are especially scarce. With your help, we are hoping to raise $15,000 to go toward Teaching Strategies Gold Assessment System Training for 50 of our very special and deserving teachers. 

Your generous donation will not only allow our teachers to return to the classrooms better qualified, but they will be bringing back even stronger assessment skills to our classrooms, allowing them to properly evaluate our students as unique individuals.

To view our campaign and learn more, please visit http://igg.me/at/itallstartswithateacher. Thank you in advance for supporting One Hope United’s teachers.


Suicide Prevention Awareness

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time when organizations and individuals work to bring awareness to suicide for those at risk, their caregivers, communities, and those who work directly with vulnerable, at risk populations, like the caseworkers at One Hope United.  While September may be just 30 days long, suicide prevention is an issue for all of us to be aware of 365 days a year.

The statistics around suicides in children and youth are staggering and sobering:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–24 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.[1]
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.[2]
  • Of the 3.4 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in 2014 who received specialty mental health services, 29.1% reported receiving services because they were thinking about or attempting suicide.[3]

The situation, however, is not hopeless. There are steps that each of us can take to support those living with mental illness, recognize the signs of those who may be considering suicide, and take action when we see someone who needs help.  Below are some tips and techniques from two trusted resources whose guidelines align with with our own standards of care and treatment.

How to help someone considering suicide:

  • Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment. Your loved one may be angry but their life depends on getting help.
  • Follow-up treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.
  • Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more assertive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, invite the person out.
  • Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.
  • Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.
  • Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.
  • Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.[4]

Q: What are some of the risk factors for suicide?
A: Risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group.  They may occur in combination or change over time. Some important risk factors are:

  • Loss or break up of special relationship.
  • Depression and other mental disorders
  • Substance-abuse disorder (often in combination with other mental disorders)
  • Prior suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Family violence including physical or sexual abuse
  • Firearms in the home
  • Incarceration
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior of others, such as family members or peers

However, it is important to note that many people who have these risk factors are not suicidal.

Q: What are signs to look for?
A: The following are some of the signs you might notice in yourself, a family member, or a friend that may be reason for concern.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Giving away special belongings.

Seeking help is a sign of strength, if you are concerned, go with your instincts, get help!

Q: What can I do for myself or someone else?
A: If you are concerned, immediate action is very important. Suicide can be prevented and most people who feel suicidal demonstrate warning signs. Recognizing some of these warning signs is the first step in helping yourself or someone you care about.[5]

One Hope United’s Screening, Assessment and Support Services (SASS) program provides intensive mental health services for children and youth who qualify for a medical card and who may need hospitalization for mental health care. SASS providers follow up with the child and family for a period of 90 days after the initial crisis in order to assist in stabilizing that youth.

SASS is available in Marion, Clay, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Jefferson, Hamilton, Wayne, and Washington counties in the state of Illinois. For more information, please call: 618-242-8266 or download a PDF of our brochure.

Additional Recommended Resources:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Wallet Card, which is available as a free download or can be ordered online. It includes the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number and lists warning signs.
  • For educators, SAHMSA’s Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools helps schools and partners assess, understand, and identify different aspects of suicide prevention.
  • The Lake County Suicide Prevention Task Force Resource Guide, available in English and Spanish, includes a comprehensive list of local and national organizations, most of whom offer services on a sliding-fee scale based on income.

[1] https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers#sthash.vWOlDABO.dpuf

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Receipt of Services for Behavioral Health Problems: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” Available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DR-FRR3-2014/NSDUH-DR-FRR3-2014/NSDUH-DR-FRR3-2014.htm

[4] http://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-helping-someone-who-is-suicidal.htm

[5] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-a-major-preventable-mental-health-problem-fact-sheet/index.shtml

Illinois Children and Families Held Hostage

On September 24, 2015, leaders, supporters, and clients from 25 Illinois nonprofits stood shoulder-to-shoulder to send Springfield a clear, unified message: Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens can no longer be held hostage! Thousands of lives are being affected by the Illinois budget stalemate. Funds are running out for programs that provide support for children, youth and families in need; military veterans; domestic abuse victims and many more. That leaves an already at-risk community with a greater margin of uncertainty. The time is now for the Governor and Legislature to do their jobs and pass a legal budget. ‪

Learn more about why OHU and 24 other human service and early childhood organizations joined forces at Progress Illinois.

Get Involved!

Media Day Group PhotoScott-OHU


Girls on the Run STL: Volunteer Spotlight

Melissa-Webster1Our very own Melissa Webster is currently being featured as this month’s Volunteer Spotlight on the Girls on the Run STL blog!

Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program (PA-PYD) designed to develop and enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experience. The mission of Girls on the Run St. Louis is to empower girls for a lifetime of healthy living. Geared towards girls in the 3rd through 8th grade, Girls on the Run inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

Melissa is a director at an OHU residential program in Centralia, IL, as well as a coach for GOTR-STL. Check out this awesome feature, as she shares her story of beginning a fitness journey, reclaiming her life, and inspiring others.

Melissa Webster- Volunteer Spotlight



CCAP Restrictions Leave OHU’s Joliet Center Nearly Empty

Photo by Eric Ginnard
Photo by Eric Ginnard

One Hope United was recently featured in The Joliet Herald-News in a story about how stricter Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) rules are adversely impacting working families seeking affordable, high-quality child care in the Joliet, IL area.

OHU’s Joliet Early Learning Center opened this year after extensive renovations of the facility, made in part with a $3.14 million grant from the state of Illinois.  The center has the capacity to serve 212 children but currently has just 22 children enrolled.

OHU chose the Joliet community for this state-of-the-art center based in part on the high need in the community for top-notch child care.

“That’s the irony in all of this,” Beth Lakier, OHU’s Executive Vice President of Early Learning, told the Herald-News. “The state recognized this as a community in need, but they’ve essentially invested in an empty building.”

Read the full story online and then learn how you can get involved to ensure that all families have access to early learning programs that set their children up for lifelong learning and success.

Get Informed & Get Involved!

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 2.26.17 PM

As highlighted in WGN Chicago’s recent cover story, the State of Illinois budget crisis is having a profound effect on numerous human services providers, including One Hope United.  If you haven’t heard much about this issue yet, we invite you to view the WGN story, which does an excellent job explaining the negative impact of this situation on hard-working Illinois families who rely on child care subsidies to provide their children with top-quality early learning programs like the ones we have at OHU.

We would greatly appreciate your support of our children and families during this critical time. We’ve created a letter for you to download and send directly to your legislators.  If you’re unsure of who your legislators are, please click here.  Please share with other supporters in your community!

While certain OHU program areas are being funded by DCFS due to pre-existing legal agreements, certain other areas, namely DHS, are currently unfunded. DHS is the primary funder for our Early Learning line of service under a program called the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). The governor has implemented ‘emergency rules’ that dramatically change the eligibility criteria for families that would otherwise qualify for subsidy under CCAP. More than 90% of Illinois families are no longer eligible for assistance, leaving them without quality early childcare and OHU with several empty classrooms in our centers.

Make your voice heard by calling or emailing your state legislators and become involved in the fight to ensure that our Illinois programs and services receive the funds that they so greatly need to operate. Most important, you can help many children get back in the classroom and receive the high-quality education that they deserve.  From all of us at One Hope United: thank you for your support!

Quick Links:

Letter of Support

Find Your Legislators 

WGN Story: Major changes coming to Illinois childcare eligibility


Healthy Families Illinois, Wings and Doula Throw a Success Party!

DSC_0005This week, OHU’s Healthy Families Illinois, Wings and Doula programs celebrated the successes of their participants with a fun outdoor picnic in Waukegan, IL! Rather than celebrating Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or graduations separately, the programs combined all of these into one big “Success Party” to celebrate all of the families together.

Everyone had a wonderful time, enjoying great food and socializing with fellow participants in the programs. Congratulations to all of our participants on their amazing success!


2015 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan: Dignity and Respect Award

Every year, One Hope United submits to DCFS, a Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan.  This plan is updated collaboratively by a group of foster parents; foster care/licensing staff and CQIR staff. This year, our 2015 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan was selected to receive an award in the area of Dignity and Respect!

One Hope United received this award at a ceremony during the Foster Parent Council meeting on June 19th. David Fox, Director of Programs, Jackie Schedin, Director of CQIR and an OHU Foster Parent represented the agency during the awards ceremony. This is very exciting, as achieving this award has been a huge goal of the Foster Parent Law Committee!


Chip In "Fore" Kids Golf Tournament

The Florida team had beautiful weather and a good turnout for their Chip In “Fore” Kids Golf Tournament at Highlands Ridge Golf Club in late May. The event was a great community builder and raised much-needed funds for the children and families of Highlands County and surrounding areas. Thanks to all of the staff who dedicated their time and resources to this event!

2014 one hope united charity event 2015-05-16 062 2014 one hope united charity event 2015-05-16 077 2014 one hope united charity event 2015-05-16 099

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