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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! 

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.”

Orlando foster youth to go from independent living to full academic scholarship playing Division I football

While growing up, Davonnie Coard admits he was a very difficult child and was no stranger to the delinquency system. At 14, Davonnie got into a violent fight with his brother—ultimately leading to his arrest. His mother, unable to handle the situation and fearing for her and the family’s safety, requested assistance from the State of Florida.

So Davonnie entered foster care. He bounced from group home to group home, mostly due to requests for removal due to bad behavior. At 16, he arrived at a facility in Pine Hills, Florida, and enrolled at Evans High School. Greg Thompson, head football coach at Evans, immediately recognized Davonnie’s large stature, standing at 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighing 305 pounds, and asked Davonnie to play for the Evans High School football team.

Davonnie credits Coach Thompson with teaching him how to refocus his anger onto the football field. Davonnie’s demeanor at the group home began to change for the better shortly after starting football, and for once in his life, Davonnie found stability.

By age 17, Davonnie remained stable in his group home in Pine Hills and demonstrated no negative behaviors. And, for the first time in a long time, he had committed individuals in his life, including Coach Thompson, and new mentor, Bill Rodriguez.

With his new found success on the football field and entering into his senior year of high school, Davonnie was looking for and wanted more in his home life. During this time, Stephen Ryan, independent living coordinator with One Hope United, worked with Davonnie on transferring to the Laurel Hill Independence Center, an independent living group home facility that allows older, responsible children in foster care to have more self-sufficiency, while teaching them essential skills to prepare them for the real world.

“I did a lot of work with Davonnie in preparing him for his 18th birthday,” said Stephen. “When the children I’m working with turn 18, I give each of them a way to contact me, whether it’s by phone or e-mail, so they do not lose that extra support while they transition to adulthood. Even though One Hope United is no longer officially involved in these cases, I still work with them to help point them in the right direction.”

Stephen says that Davonnie is thriving and learning so much from his stay at Laurel Hill Independence Center, including how to lead an independent life after 18. He is also learning about collegiate football from the center’s Program Manager Calvin Windham, who was a former player of Louisiana State University.

Unfortunately, during the first preseason scrimmage of Davonnie’s senior year, he broke his left foot. Even with such a short amount of playtime due to the injury, Davonnie’s confidence on the field and passion for football showed through, making an impact on football scouts from across the nation.

On Feb. 3, 2010, National Signing Day for college football, Davonnie signed his Letter of Intent to play Division I football at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida A&M University even offered Davonnie a full academic scholarship!

Davonnie still calls Stephen to ask for life advice or help with filling out forms. Just the other day, Davonnie asked Stephen to accompany him to a parent/teacher conference at school.

“While I had no legal standpoint because Davonnie was 18 years old, I believe that he just wanted to see a friendly face and have someone he can turn to with questions,” said Stephen. “I’m so excited to see Davonnie off when he moves to Tallahassee in the fall!”