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Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah GOES BLUE for OHU!

As many of you know, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and One Hope United has created the GO BLUE campaign to raise awareness about the importance of stopping child abuse before it starts.  And we’re thrilled to have Joakim Noah lend his time and talents to help us spread the word!

Through their Noah’s Arc Foundation Joakim and his mother Cecilia Rodhe engage kids with art and sports so that every child can “be able to express their true self in order to fulfill their dreams.”  They have also developed a great relationship with the boys from One Hope United’s CARE Day Treatment Program, hosting the boys at Joakim’s home to shoot some hoops, gather around the campfire, and just relax and chat.  We’re so grateful for their support.

But you don’t have to be an NBA superstar to be a hero to child.  From local business owners to community leaders to our youngest volunteers, everyone is invited to show their support in the fight to end child abuse and GO BLUE this April!

Comfort Kits "Give a Little Love"

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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.

Fishing Derby at Lake Villa brings new experiences to youth

One Hope United’s Lake Villa campus hosted its second annual ice fishing derby on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. The event brings together world famous fishermen and boys in the CARE/Day School program for a day of fun and fishing on the campus lake!

This year, the derby was sponsored by the Fox River Valley Muskie Association and Cabella’s donated huts, heaters, hand warmers and bait for the volunteers and 18 boys in treatment.

Tony Boshold, a world champion ice fisherman attend and instructed the boys in the fundamentals of ice fishing. U.S. Champion Ice Fisherman Mike McNett also volunteered. One Hope United Board Member Cindy Lusignan and volunteer Nancy Miller donated lunch for all the participants. One Hope United Board Member Howard Schnitzer and his wife Chris donated coffee and donuts for the fisherman before they made their way out on the ice. Bonnie Lederman and Joyce Heneberry also volunteered their time at this event, in addition to many others.

Thanks to all who helped make this a memorable day for the boys receiving treatment. Many shared their thoughts about the experience:

Josh, a boy in the residential program, caught three fish. He said, “The best part was catching the most fish. I learned how to ice fish. There was no bad thing about the fishing derby.  It was fun.”

Shamar said, “The best part was catching the fish in a small hole. I learned how to ride a four-wheeler.” 

Kevin said the best part was “when we went on the snowmobile. I learned how to be patient.” 

Reggie said, “Hanging out with everyone on the water was fun. I learned how to catch fish on the ice. I loved it.”

Mason was glad that his confusion about which fisherman there was named Cabela was cleared up because he was so glad the company had donated so much.  He said, “I enjoyed riding a snowmobile for the first time.

Sunshine Coach arrives in Hudelson

Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis awarded another Sunshine Coach to One Hope United’s Hudelson Region. 

The van, valued at $31,323, will be used for clients served by the Collinsville office through Family Support Services and Transportation and Visitation. The vans were awarded at the Champions for Children Summit in St. Louis on November 12, and officially released to One Hope United on Friday, January 24.

Second Annual Comfort Kit Fundraiser

ZastrowTwo years ago, Chrys Zastrow became a foster mother for three young girls and hosted her first annual comfort kit fundraiser in Island Lake. In March, Chrys and her husband will finalize the adoption of their girls and host the second annual “Give a Little Extra Love Night” comfort kit fundraiser! 

Comfort kits are given to children and families who enter foster care. Often when a child arrives at a new home, it is an emergency situation. The child might arrive 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 Chrys first became a foster parent to the three girls she will be adopting soon, they each arrived with a comfort kit on their first night. She realized how valuable the kits were and how much her girls treasured them. Chrys and the girls wanted to provide the same comfort to other foster children so decided to start a fundraiser!

This year’s event will be on Friday, February 28, at 6 p.m. at the Young Scholars Child Care Center in Island Lake, Ill. All are invited to donate to help purchase items, or come to the event and help make “lovie” blankets and assemble the kits! For more information please contact Chrys Zastrow atSweetzzzcomfortkits@yahoo.com

Donation information:

  • There will also be a donation jar on the front desk of Young Scholars Child Care Center for monetary donations.
  • If you would like to donate a blanket kit = $10
  • A complete comfort kit = $20

Please have donations dropped off by Thursday, February 20.

Donations can be mailed to:


Young Scholars Child Care Center
501 Kora Lane
Island Lake, IL 60042

Florida Staff Member Adoption Finalized

Melvin Guzman, Licensing Supervisor in Florida, was able to celebrate Thanksgiving with his son, Juan, 13, after Juan’s adoption was finalized on November 27.

Guzman_adoption_600 pixJuan, along with his siblings and cousins, entered Youth and Family Services, a child welfare agency, after he was removed from his family’s care three years ago.  At that time, Melvin was working with Youth and Family Services and met Juan shortly after he entered the program.  Juan was somewhat of a problematic child, and had gotten in trouble in school for being disruptive. Initially, Melvin thought of himself as a mentor for Juan and gave him advice about how to handle difficult situations. After working together and building their relationship, Melvin knew he wanted to adopt Juan and become a family.

“I knew he needed the help, the assistance and the nurturing,” Melvin said. “Once Juan knew I was interested in adopting him I told him what the rules and expectations were and he heard that.  His disruptions at school and his misbehaving completely stopped.”

For more information about becoming a foster parent or adopting please visit http://onehopeunited.wpengine.com/services/

Baking Christmas cookies in Centralia

Sprehe-Christmas-CookiesBoard Member Gregory Sprehe has been an asset to One Hope United, and has years of demonstrated leadership within the organization. He is President/Owner of Com-Pac International, Inc. Greg’s wife, Victoria, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis and had approached Patricia Griffith, Executive Director, about opportunities to volunteer on the residential campus. 

When Greg and Victoria came to the Centralia residential campus for the first session on Wednesday, November 20, it was evident that they have a special place in their hearts for the children of One Hope United. They made a number of desserts and packaged them in “goodie” bags, plastic bags that were made by Greg’s company! Greg and Victoria will be visiting campus again on Wednesday, December 18 – just in time for Christmas! They will be making Christmas goodies and the youth are so excited to spend time with the Sprehes again.

Family Portraits at Centralia Residential

When the leaves begin to change and the air become a little crisper, residential youth know that it is time for their family portraits! Each year at Centralia Residential Treatment, youth and staff dress up and have their photos taken by a professional photographer. It is an exciting day because many of the youth have never had individual photos taken (outside of school pictures). Youth are also encouraged to invite any family members he or she has to join them for the photos. This year’s “Picture Day” was on Sunday, October 27, 2013 and the photos were taken by Jennifer Enkoff Wood. It was a beautiful day and the colors make the photos even more impressive. Staff have the opportunity to have family photos taken that day too. 

A holiday tradition in Centralia is for various sizes of the photos to be printed and given to the youth as one of their Christmas presents. It is always a joy to see their faces when they see their photos for the first time. It is an unexpected gift for youth who have not been here for past Christmas celebrations, and one that they always remember. They cannot wait to show off their photos to staff and their family members. Staff members have already begun the sorting and wrapping of these photos and cannot wait to give them to the youth for Christmas!

Loading the Sleighs for Delivery

Volunteers packed three trucks (sleighs) full of gifts for children in the northern Illinois and Chicago area on December 10. View photos and read articles about the day at the link below. 

Daily Herald – https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20131210/news/712109847/

Chicago Tribune – http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/mundelein/community/chi-ugc-article-medline-employees-lend-support-to-hundreds-of-2013-12-12,0,569218.story

Chicago Sun Times — http://newssun.suntimes.com/news/24315784-418/one-hope-united-brightens-season-for-2600-kids.html

Gingerbread House for Hope

More than 150 people from the Lindenhurst/Lake Villa area participated in the Gingerbread Houses of Hope event on December 6, to raise money for One Hope United.

With holiday music in the background, children, parents and grandparents used buckets of icing to attach the sugary decorations to their masterpieces that ranged from simple to highly ornate. This family-friendly event was the idea of the children of One Hope United Board member Scott Moeller.  His daughter, Brooke said “It’s a super fun fundraiser for kids of all ages. We’ve been doing it for five years and this was my favorite because we raised enough money to help a lot of children.”  During the event, children decorated 70 gingerbread houses and nearly $3,000 was raised for One Hope United.

Lovin Oven Cakery also supported this holiday community event.
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