Volunteers of America of Illinois
Founded in 1896, Volunteers of America of Illinois is one of the organization's oldest local offices. For over 123 years, Volunteers of America of Illinois has met the critical needs of children and families throughout the state with a variety of strength-based, child-centered and family-focused services designed to strengthen families, promote healthy development and ensure safety, permanency and well-being for children. Each year, Volunteers of America of Illinois serves approximately 500 children and families through a broad continuum of child welfare services including foster care, specialized foster care, kinship care, family reunification and adoption.
Nancy Hughes Moyer, President and CEO, Volunteers of America of Illinois: At Volunteers of America, the common thread of all of our programs, even though we're serving people of very different ages with very diverse needs is that every single person who's been touched by our services has a place to belong and a place to call home.
Home, it's not just about shelter. It's not just about having a place to put our things. Our home is that thing that gives us our sense of place in the world. It's the source of our dignity as people, and it's the thing that makes us feel safe and the thing that gives us our source of stability, so we can go out and accomplish big things and pursue our dreams. Finding people a home and a place to really be home is the foundation of everything that we do, even though we're doing it for very different kinds of people and for very different kinds of populations.
Mrs. Gibbons: My definition of home is where the heart is. My heart is with my family, my beautiful daughter, my amazing husband.
Mr. Gibbons: I went in the Navy about, at the age of 19. Happy I served. Happy I got my honorable discharge and I served my country.
Mrs. Gibbons: Before we moved to Hope Manor, we were living in low income housing.
Mr. Gibbons: We had the crime around us and all the gangs and the drugs. We actually had shootings at night, where I had to tell my family, "Look, get down. They're shooting." Here, it's nice. We don't have that around here. It feels almost like you're back in the military. It's almost like being back in a little small military base or a military community. It's nice being around other veterans and peace. That's the most important thing for me, are peace, quietness, and a safe place for me and my family.
Elissa Besterwitch, Property Manager, Volunteers of America of Illinois: This is Willy. We are in his home right now. Willy has lived here since 2014. He's deaf and blind. He lost his sight at around the age of 15 and his hearing around the age of 21. He was really looking to regain his independence when he moved here.
Willy: How do you live living here? I love it. I love it. I love the staff, the apartment, the way it's set up. I love the residence, senior citizens. I like the security and I like the staff, how you're always trying to help residents, and trying to work to get there as a team, a family who support each other. I like that.
Nancy Harper, Client Support and Service Coordinator, Volunteers of America of Illinois:: I'm very in awe about ... He didn't let his disability drag him down at all. He has God in his life so much.
Willy: I love it here. Don't want to move. It's comfortable.
Kayla Farquhar, Foster Care Case Manger, Volunteers of America of Illinois: The Volunteers of America of Illinois has been in the foster car field for many, many years. In a perfect world, you would hope that parents are loving their children. I think it's sometimes just inability to. It's not that a parent doesn't want to. They just have maybe not been taught the tools or have dealt with so much trauma, they're no longer able to cope with it, and they're using destructive mechanisms to deal with that.
Romayne Pollard: My cousin was homeless. She's partially handicapped and she's also cognitively delayed. So, it was already determined that she probably would not be able to raise baby and we had a family plan in place. At the last minute, she changed her mind and that's how DCFS got involved. There was a hotline call made. I joined the Navy when I was 20. Just was seeing the world. But once I retired, I never imagined, never thought that I would be a foster parent. I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't change it. I had this tree planted the year that Dewey was born. So, that way we'll be able to watch this tree grown with Dewey.
Dan Kardatzke: Being a part and supportive an organization that not only provides people a place to call home, but also provides those services. That combination of both is unique, and a lot of times people are looking for to make sure that the donation they're providing, the support they're giving is going to really service and provide those services to the individuals in care. We have a very high percentage of our donations that come in that go back to our services, which is unique. A lot of non profits can't quite claim that in the same way that I believe Volunteers of America can. So, I always stress that the money that they're donating is going right to our services that people so desperately need.