Serving and Supporting Transgender Youth at One Hope United

When the opportunity to serve transgender youth through One Hope United’s Centralia residential programs arose, director Melissa Webster thought to herself, “We can do that!”

According to the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence, 57 percent of trans youth report experiencing family rejection, and trans youth are disproportionately represented in child welfare settings. If they feel unsafe in their placement, they may choose instead to live on the streets—20 percent of homeless youth identify as trans.

Melissa knew that her facilities, which include private rooms and locking doors, as well as her team’s approach of doing what’s best for the youth in their care, would make One Hope United a good fit for trans youth. “There’s no judgment here,” she said. “Wherever you are today, we’re going to meet you there.”

That’s what the team tried to convey to Taylor*, 15, when he visited the campus to consider living there (he was assigned a female sex at birth and now identifies as male). Home supervisor Greg Phoenix began by asking Taylor what he needed from the program. “He really just wanted our support and to be accepted for who he was, and our willingness to do that was probably the largest deciding factor for him choosing us,” Greg said.

Taylor’s arrival on campus took some adjustment for some of the other boys, but Greg says that period was short and that Taylor now gets along with all the boys in the home. “They see him as one of their own. They watch TV together, play games together—he’s fully accepted.”

The staff at One Hope United have supported Taylor by helping him when he wanted to travel to the pride parade in Springfield, Illinois, and to an LGBTQ support group in St. Louis, Missouri. Taylor also holds a leadership role on DCFS’s youth advisory board and is working with two other LGBTQ youth on campus to start a support group at One Hope United. Now, Taylor is poised to transition to foster care.

Working with Taylor, one of the first openly trans youth at One Hope United, has been “enriching,” says therapist Howard Coon.

“He knew from a very young age that he wasn’t born in the right body. He can say, ‘I know this is who I want to be,’ and it’s nice to see youth who can put that kind of passion into their treatment, their personal lives, and their goals,” Howard said. “We hope to help Taylor achieve some of those things before he moves on to his next placement.”

This story is from our 2017 Annual Report.

*Name has been changed.

Centralia Basketball ‘Court of Hope’ Dedicated in Honor of Sprehe Family

When you drive into Centralia, Illinois, you’re greeted by a sign welcoming you to the “Home of the Winningest H.S. Basketball Team in the Nation.”

One of the next things you see is One Hope United’s Centralia campus, with its newly restored basketball court.

One Hope United’s board of directors raised funds to renovate the court – which serves as the heart of the campus and a gathering and recreation space for youth – and dedicated it as the Forrest D. and June L. Sprehe Court of Hope.

Forrest Sprehe was a Centralia resident and longtime board member of One Hope United’s downstate region. He and his wife, June, were well known for their volunteerism and community support throughout the area.

“I know Dad was involved in a lot of organizations, from the school board to his industry organizations, but One Hope United was closest to his and Mom’s heart,” said their son, Greg Sprehe, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a board member, most recently as board chair.

“It was all about family for them,” Greg added. “Extending the resources they had – particularly the time Dad spent working with the organization – was, I know he would say, the most important work he ever did.”

Misty Sprehe Wright and Greg Sprehe

In addition to Greg’s service on the board, he and his wife, Victoria, frequently spend time on the Centralia campus, particularly around the holiday season, when they help the youth prepare dishes and decorate for the annual holiday party.

Their dedication to service “doesn’t happen by accident; that’s a family value,” said Melissa Webster, One Hope United’s director of programs in Centralia. “And we know that that’s a generational value.”

Both Greg and his sister, Misty Sprehe Wright, played in Centralia High School’s famed basketball program, so for them, the court was a fitting tribute to their parents.

“These are our roots,” said Misty, who became Centralia’s first female to play basketball in grade school – playing on the boys team – and went on to become a PE teacher and coach. Addressing the Centralia campus youth at the court dedication, she said, “We have great memories, and we hope all you residents – you amazing, wonderful kids – enjoy basketball and enjoy these facilities as much as we have.”

The October 4, 2017, dedication was attended by the Sprehe family and friends, Centralia community members, youth living on the Centralia campus, and One Hope United staff from Centralia and beyond. The youth wasted no time making use of the basketball court, inaugurating it with a tournament immediately following the program.

“With the Sprehe family, it’s always been about the focus on kids and families and helping them reach their greatest potential,” said Scott Humphrey, President and CEO of One Hope United. “In my book, there’s nobody that embodies our vision about ‘life without limits’ better than the Sprehe family.”

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Every year, November is recognized as National Adoption Awareness Month. At One Hope United, one of our most important goals is to ensure a safe and loving home for every child. We invite and encourage parents in our communities who wish to start or expand their families to consider opening their doors—and hearts—and adopt through One Hope United.

Though in Illinois, OHU’s adoption services are limited to our existing foster parents, we are continuously searching nationwide for parents to adopt children who we care for in our Florida program.

OHU’s adoption team currently services Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Brevard Counties in FL. The team has an innate passion for providing forever families for their children and keeping siblings together. Keeping siblings together is definitely a challenge, as most siblings have remained separated since entering foster care; however, they continue to advocate for siblings despite the odds. In the last fiscal year the Orlando adoption team had found over 35 forever homes for their children and their goal and mission is to continue finding safe and permanent homes for each available child.

To learn more about OHU’s Adoption program, visit onehopeunited.wpengine.com/adoption.

Additional Links

http://www.adoptflorida.org/

Central Florida Event: http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/events/national-adoption-day-celebration-orange-county-2/

Chicago Event: http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/events/wendys-wonderful-kids-match-event/

https://davethomasfoundation.org/adopt/national-adoption-day/

OHU Employee Appreciation Week 2016!

One Hope United’s recent Employee Appreciation Week was a huge hit!

Our employees work very hard every single day to support the mission and vision of our organization. Therefore, we wanted to take time to recognize all that they do by hosting an Employee Appreciation Week dedicated to showing our appreciation. This was a week for our staff to have fun and pat themselves on the back because they truly deserve it.




Each day of Employee Appreciation Week was lead by a different theme, from Healthy Start, Healthy You Day to R&R Day! Everyone had a blast and we have the photos to prove it! Check out a few photos from the fun week below and click through to view the full Facebook photo album.

14682198_10155271979057004_6696775325223478340_o 14702217_10155270893372004_6065583851450312788_n 14729210_10155270896627004_953752559965886651_n14670651_10155270872302004_8112392804371469388_n

Help Us Spring Ahead Towards Our Goal!

One Hope United is tremendously grateful for the continuous support of our supporters and donors. Your generosity during this past year has allowed us to impact the lives of countless children and families throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Florida.

Yet, as we approach the end of our fiscal year on June 30, 2016, we realize that we still have a ways to go! We ask that you join us in our efforts to “spring ahead” towards our final fundraising goal. Your financial gift will allow us to continue strengthening families in need, providing counseling for children who have experienced trauma and abuse and offering quality early learning education, along with a wide range of additional resources for those that we serve.

We believe that a child’s future should not be determined solely by their circumstances. Every child deserves to have big dreams and most importantly, the opportunity to attain them. Our vision is for every child and family, life without limits.

Please make your donation by June 30, 2016 at onehopeunited.wpengine.com/springahead.

OHU Donor Spotlight | Paul Earle and Ellen Rudnick

As states’ funding of child care and availability of certain services remain in flux, One Hope United’s work becomes even more vital to improving the future of children and families in the communities we serve. For this reason, our agency is honored to have so many committed donors who both believe in the work that that we do and continue to generously support our programs and sustainability. Two of these donors, are One Hope United board member Paul Earle and his spouse Ellen Rudnick.

“We wanted to focus our gift on the longer‑term health of a non‑profit organization,” said Earle. “Most non‑profits live day to day, especially when the economy is dreadful.” The retired Spencer Stuart senior leader has served on the One Hope United board since 2005, and as he and Rudnick focus their efforts on philanthropy and strategic giving, they have found that One Hope United lines up perfectly with their desire to give to agencies that focus on children and families and to support well‑managed, sustainable organizations with great outcomes.

“There are so many overwhelming problems in the world,” says Ellen Rudnick, Executive Director and Clinical Professor of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “We take solace in knowing that by donating to One Hope United, we’re impacting one child and family at a time, right here in our own community.” Earle and Rudnick decided to make one large joint gift to One Hope United’s Capital Reserve Fund, instead of spreading a number of smaller gifts to a number of worthy non‑profit organizations. The couple wanted to make a more resonant impact and the reserve fund allows the agency to expand and remain sustainable.

Since establishing the Capital Reserve Fund, they have also contributed a three year commitment of funding for the residential CARE program. The funding is providing development and training of a new evidenced based, trauma informed model of care through Cornell University.

“Sustainability is extremely important for the future of non‑profits,” said Rudnick. “Organizations need new revenue models to couple with the social mission of their enterprise. Non‑profits can’t just rely on grants, government funds and direct mail campaigns to those who have given in the past. As individual donors, we can help set non‑profits off on the right path with strategic giving and guidance.”

Earle and Rudnick said that they admired the fiscal responsibility and accountability of One Hope United, but what was even more important in motivating them to give was the desire to sustain these programs as the state of government funding is uncertain. The majority of One Hope United’s services, such as early education, foster care and child/family counseling, are underwritten by government funds. As state deficits grow, funding for these programs shrinks. “What is happening to these children down the road because the State has stopped paying?” asked Earle.

In May, at OHU’s Hope In Action fundraiser, Earle and Rudnick were recognized with the Leadership In Giving award. “It is committed, generous individuals like Paul and Ellen who are filling in critical gaps for One Hope United children and families,” said CEO Scott Humphrey. Their giving spans many years and includes many types of gifts such as the Capital Reserves gift, the Cornell model training and many special moments for clients at sporting events in Chicago. One Hope United is forever grateful for the generosity of Paul Earle and Ellen Rudnick.

The WINGS Program Visits Brookfield Zoo!

One Hope United’s WINGS program was chosen by the Brookfield Women’s Zoological Society to receive a free day at Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, June 4th. This outing included two free buses, admission to the zoo, lunch, and admission to the Zoo’s special attractions.

OHU’s WINGS program provides essential support services and counseling to high-risk teenage, single and other parents in Lake County, as they adjust to the responsibilities of parenthood. Targeting new and expecting parents, WINGS promotes positive parent-child interaction and works to enhance family functioning, build trusting relationships and teach problem-solving skills.

The field trip was a huge success! There were around 40 clients who participated and they all had an awesome time. The clients thoroughly enjoyed all of the activities, especially the dolphin show and the carousel.

Thank you Brookfield Zoo!

wings brookfield zoo

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.

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!

DSC_1069DSC_0001DSC_0006