Bridgeport II Receives Gold Circle of Quality Designation from ExceleRate Illinois


Shows Continuous Quality Improvement Commitment to Children in Chicago

Chicago, Illinois – August 4, 2014 – Bridgeport Child Development Center II received the Gold Circle of Quality designation from ExceleRate Illinois, the state’s new quality rating and improvement system for early learning and development providers.

“Every early learning and development provider who participates in ExceleRate Illinois makes quality a priority,” said Theresa Hawley, executive director, Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. “The higher the designation, the higher the provider’s demonstrated quality and comprehensiveness in meeting children’s early learning needs,” she said.

“We are proud to receive the Gold Circle of Quality,” said Karina Dixon, Bridgeport Child Development Center II. “Providing quality in early learning and development will help our children in Chicago be better prepared for success in school and in life.”

ExceleRate Illinois helps families make more informed choices about their children’s early learning. It establishes standards to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally. Additionally, it provides a framework for early learning and development professionals to identify opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Research in science and brain development shows that children who are more meaningfully engaged in early learning experiences from infancy through the first five years of life are more likely to be successful in school and in life. With the right engagement, children can form a healthy foundation of neural pathways in the brain, which impact their ability to think, react, process and grow.

ExceleRate Illinois is a comprehensive system that includes Licensed Child care Centers, Preschool for All and Center-Based Prevention Initiative Programs, Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. Licensed Family and Group Child Care Homes will be included next year.

For more information or to find a Child Care Resource & Referral Agency in your area, visit: www.ExceleRateIllinois.com.

ExceleRate Illinois is administered through INCCRRA under the joint direction of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and the Illinois State Board of Education.


Karina Dixon
(312) 949-4015

CARE Supports Those Battling Cancer

On Saturday, July 26, 2014, youth and staff from the One Hope United CARE Residential program in northern Illinois ran in a 5K to support No One Fights Cancer Alone (NOFCA). This non-profit was founded two years ago by Donna Bergl, a long-time OHU Volunteer, and John Mehnert.  Mehnert shared that this 5K was, “a grass roots effort to help local families who are battling cancer.”

This second annual NOFCA 5K run raised $6,600, with over 200 people participating. The proceeds will benefit two local families struggling with cancer.

We’re so proud of the young men in our CARE program for their willingness to get involved to help others and for their hearts of service! 

Thank You to The Community Foundation Of The Fox River Valley!

One Hope United Recipient Of $18,300 Grant

From The Community Foundation Of The Fox River Valley

CHICAGO (June 26, 2014) – The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley has named One Hope United as a grant recipient for 2014.  The $18,300 award supports the Aurora Early Learning Center’s Healthy Lifestyles curriculum through the resurfacing of a state-of-the-art playground area.

“This grant from the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley ensures that One Hope United’s Aurora Early Learning Center continues to provide top-notch programs designed to improve the health and wellness of every child we serve,” says One Hope United Northern Region Executive Director Mark McHugh.  “At a time when childhood obesity and a lack of access to regular physical exercise are affecting the most critical years of a child’s development, One Hope United is proud to be leading the charge on providing children with healthy habits that we hope will last a lifetime.”

The Healthy Lifestyles curriculum is designed to help children develop healthy routines and activities by emphasizing proper nutrition, daily exercise and protecting our environment by recycling, reducing and reusing.  All food served at the Aurora Early Learning Center is cooked on-site, allowing the center to serve healthier food and cater to children’s taste preferences.

 The Aurora Early Learning Center serves over 330 children and their families annually, providing the highest quality early learning and parental support services.  In addition to the playground, the center has a garden where children plant, care for and harvest vegetables and flowers that are shared with their families. The center also provides services such as free museum passes and exercise classes.


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 agency serves thousands of children and families with a vision of ensuring the successful transition of our children to healthy and productive adults. http://onehopeunited.wpengine.com

About the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley

The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley is a non-profit, tax-exempt, philanthropic organization that administers individual charitable funds from which grants and scholarships are distributed to benefit the citizens of the Greater Aurora Area, the TriCities and Kendall County, Illinois. For more information on the Community Foundation, please visit its website at www.CommunityFoundationFRV.org

3rd Annual Open Water Fishing Derby

On Saturday, June 14, Volunteers from the Fox Valley Muskie Association hosted the 3rd Annual Open Water Fishing Derby for the boys at One Hope United. Twenty boys, staff, and fishermen boarded thirteen boats and headed out on Deep Lake in Lake Villa, Illinois.

The weather was perfect for this day of catch and release fishing. The day concluded with a picnic lunch, donated and served by volunteers. One of the boys, Jonathan, told a fisherman, “I’ve been looking forward to this day for ten months!” All shared some great fish stories and created lasting memories.

Thanks to all who came out to support this special group!

Off to the Races!

When Russell Smith of Lake Villa, Illinois donated two bikes to the OHU CARE Residential program, Howard Schnitzer, OHU Board member, saw this as a fundraising opportunity. These were not your ordinary bikes…one was an Orange County Chopper Stingray Chopper and the other was a Phat Chopper!

Howard challenged Mark McHugh, OHU Northern Region Executive Director, to a race. Each of the men solicited sponsors to support the race. On Tuesday, May 27, 2014, the race took place in the pouring rain. Although a close race, Howard (shown in the photo below) won. This bike race raised $480 to benefit the CARE program.

$800 in Pennies? Way to Go Aurora Child Development Center!

The children and families at the OHU Aurora Child Development Center embraced the GO BLUE 4 OHU campaign wholeheartedly. Along with bake sales and raffles, the classrooms engaged in Penny Wars. Each classroom collected spare change throughout the month of April, each room striving to collect the most money. The winning classroom was the Kindergarten Classroom pictured above.

All together, the Aurora CDC raised $800 to support the child abuse prevention programs at One Hope United. Never underestimate the fundraising capabilities of young children!

11th Annual Blue Ribbon Event a Huge Success!

On April 13, 2014 One Hope United – Northern Region held its 11th Annual Blue Ribbon Event to Prevent Child Abuse at the Lehmann Mansion in Lake Villa, IL. And what an amazing day it was!

Over 200 people attended the event, raising nearly $90,000 to benefit OHU’s child abuse prevention programs. The highlight of the event was Keynote Speaker, Steve Pemberton, Chief Diversity Officer and Regional VP at Walgreens, who enraptured the audience with his personal account of being in the foster care system and the wonderful people in his life who helped him along his journey.

Also in attendance were six boys from the CARE Residential program who assisted with the raffles. They thoroughly enjoyed the day and responded positively to Steve Pemberton’s inspirational remarks, which told a story not unlike their own.

In addition to the popular raffle items, the day featured a live auction. One of the items to receive the highest bid was a Garden Party with food and champagne to be served at the winner’s home for 20 people, generously donated by Mike and Mary Smith, Cindy Lusignan and Nancy Miller. The guest servers at this Garden Party will OHU Board Member Howard Schnitzer and nine-year-old Abby Bergl, whose tireless fundraising efforts for OHU over the years and have raised close to $30,000! Howard’s apron read “Abby’s Assistant” and Abby’s apron read “Howard’s Boss.” This Garden Party sold for $2500!

Thank you again to all who attended this day filled with hope and inspiration, laughter and a few tears, old acquaintances and new friends. Please take a few moments to peruse our online photo album. We’ll see you in 2015!

GO BLUE Community Partner Spotlight: Julie’s Coffee

Julie Adriansen wears blue in support of One Hope United![/caption]

Julie’s Coffee in Lake Villa, Illinois went BLUE for OHU on Saturday, April 5!

Volunteers from One Hope United served as guest baristas with all tips going towards child abuse prevention programs. The community really stepped up as a steady stream of OHU staff, volunteers and supporters stopped by for coffee and treats.

Thank you, Julia’s Coffee, for all you’ve done to support us as we work together to prevent child abuse and maltreatment in our communities this April and beyond.  GO BLUE!

To host your own fundraiser, fill out our online form and an OHU staff member will be in contact.  You can also download our GO BLUE Toolkit for more great ideas.

Chris & Howard Schnitzer (1)


The Healing Path Changes Lives

My client is a 12-year-old male who was referred to the Healing Path program by Warren Township due to his history of complex trauma. The client’s history of trauma includes: his biological father and primary caregiver passed away due to a heart condition when the client was four years old, witnessing domestic violence instances between his biological mother and her paramour, being in a house which was intentionally set on fire by his mother’s companion after a domestic violence incident when the client was 8 years old, witnessing significant community violence, and witnessing his biological mother participate in illegal activities and be incarcerated multiple times. Currently the client is residing with his paternal grandfather who also suffers from the same heart condition as the client’s biological father. In September of 2013, the client had numerous physical symptoms and he was told that he could also suffer from the same heart condition as his father and grandfather.  Since then the client’s test results have concluded that his heart is healthy.

At the onset of therapeutic services the client’s grandfather identified one of his primary concerns as their lack of support in the community. The client’s grandfather expressed a desire to relocate closer to his family in Kentucky due to not having the necessary supports in the area.

Aside from engaging in therapeutic services it became apparent that this family needed case management assistance. I provided the client’s grandfather with numerous resources in the community which could assist with more concrete resources.  The client’s grandfather contacted all of the referrals.  I also worked with Mother’s Trust to receive funding for the client to participate in a local football team. I served as a liaison between the client’s grandfather and the client’s school. As a result the client participated in the basketball team and the client’s grandfather was able to attend the games at no charge.

On Thursday, January 16th I met with the client’s grandfather, during this session he told me that because of my work “I have changed their life”, moving to Kentucky no longer seems like an option due to the amount of support that they have. The client’s grandfather communicated that due to my efforts and collaboration they now have a case worker from the Lake McHenry Veterans and Family Services. The client’s case worker has helped the family with food, stable housing, obtaining a washer, housekeeping help for the home, and a new vehicle. The client’s grandfather had never sought services to process his own history of trauma because he believed he would not be eligible for counseling services at the VA due to his discharge status from the military after WWII.

The client’s grandfather shared that in his life he has never received support as he has from The Healing Path. He said that it’s clear that those of us helping him do not do it as just a “job” but rather because we are passionate about helping others. The client’s grandfather said The Healing Path has not only changed his life and the life of his grandson but has also changed who he is as a person. He is amazed at the kindness and willingness to help that he has found in our community.

Needless to say I was touched by the comments of the client’s grandfather. It is a good reminder of why we do the work we do.”

Comfort Kits "Give a Little Love"


The Second Annual “Give a Little Love” event on February 28, 2014 created sixty Comfort Kits for children being removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.

Chrys Zastrow, founder of Sweet Zzzz Comfort Kits, organized this event along with Young Scholars Child Care Center in Island Lake, Illinois, and friends and family. Often when a child is removed from their home, it is an emergency situation. The child may arrive at the foster home without anything but the clothes on his or her back. A comfort kit is a duffel bag filled with basic comforts: blanket, a “lovie” blanket, stuffed animal, toothbrush and toothpaste, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, book or craft and a water bottle.

When Zastrow’s three daughters first arrived at her home, they had received comfort kits to bring with them. This simple act of kindness motivated her to give back to other children in need.

This year, Zastrow’s eldest daughter worked with her Girl Scout Daisy troop to make a blanket and assemble a comfort kit. This 5 year old shared her story with her fellow troop members, telling them how she came to live with her adoptive mom, Chrys Zastrow. Her younger twin sisters clearly remembered their own comfort kits – taking to bed with them that night the very blankets they had received a few years before when they first arrived at the Zastrow home.

“Give a Little Love” demonstrated how much one person can greatly impact the lives of children in need at a critical moment in their lives.

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