Our success comes when kids and their families are put first. Read how your gift to ChildServ is creating better lives.
Deedee, a mother of 3, was introduced to Tracie, a parent educator with ChildServ’s Parent Empowerment Program at a community fair shortly after giving birth to her third child, a little boy named Lonny.
Deedee and her young family live in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s Southside. Englewood is known for its high rates of violent crime and gang activity, low educational attainment levels and high rates of poverty and unemployment. Along with her three children, Deedee also supports her mother and little sister, who suffers from a cognitive delay. Deedee also struggled with finding a job that would allow her to balance all of her various caregiver roles. After Lonny’s birth, she was especially concerned about how she could be there for her children and still make ends meet. Tracie was able to help Deedee polish her resume and gave her a job lead for employment that would work for her. Deedee now works at a local daycare and after school program a couple hours a day and still finds time to pick Lenny and Kay up from school, prepare dinner, and help with homework.
Tracie recognized Deedee’s struggles and worked to empower her. Every other week, Tracie would visit Deedee and practice educational and developmental activities to do together with the children. Deedee continued each activity after Tracie left. Deedee says that she noticed the first time she saw Lonny’s “brain wake up” during one of her sessions with Tracie, and she’s been hooked ever since. She said that Lonny learned to speak earlier and spoke with a higher vocabulary than his siblings. She also said that he learned to walk and potty-train earlier as well. Deedee credits this to Tracie’s visits; although, much of the credit goes to Deedee herself. Since entering the program, she reports reading to all her children more frequently – almost nightly – and it appears to have taken hold. Deedee continues to be an inspiration to other parents in the program. This past year, she worked with our Health Coordinator to build and plant a family garden in her front yard. Lonny follows his mother to the garden every day and loves to eat fresh peas right off the vine. Deedee’s mother and sister are also garden fans now too.
Thanks to the support of Childserv donors, community leaders and volunteers, the lives of Deedee’s entire family have been changed for the better.
Timothy* is, in many ways, a typical college student. At 20, he is finishing up his sophomore year of school, and he spends virtually every minute of his day in class, studying, or at his job. He works as an information technology specialist at a local university and is getting his bachelor’s degree in computer science.
But Timothy’s background is far from typical. As one of 12 siblings, he was a ward of the state from age 7 to 14. Timothy says he is proud that his mom attended every court appearance and counseling session necessary until he was reunited with her. Still, as he neared his high school graduation in 2010, he struggled with having a regular place to sleep within his mother’s house due to the number of rooms and beds in the residence and the number of people living there. At 17, he was shot in an episode of neighborhood violence. Concerned for his safety and in need of a bed within a stable home, he called his foster mother and asked her for her help.
His foster mom contacted Emerge, a program formerly run by Hull House that ChildServ began operating in Spring 2012. Through Emerge, Timothy receives an apartment, counseling and assistance with life skills, like creating a budget and developing a career path.
“ChildServ gave me stability, and with housing, you can focus on what you need to do,” Timothy says about the benefits of the program. “It’s [good] to know that somebody cares. It helped me out.”
Since joining Emerge, Timothy has thrived as a student and as a person. He helps his sister with her children and acts as a role model to his nephew, who is 14. Last year, he was a member of the Freshman Honor Society. Timothy has kept his grades up this school year despite a terrible loss: his brother was shot and killed in February.
“He’s very commendable, says Felicia, Timothy’s caseworker. “He’s diligent. Even with his loss, he got through school.”
Timothy considers his stable housing to be a huge factor in staying in school.
“There were 30 guys who I hung out with in high school. Most of us were living house-to-house. Only two of us graduated,” he says. “There should be more programs like this. When people care about you, it helps. If you feel like nobody cares, you may not care or take care of yourself.”
This fall, Timothy will graduate from Emerge and begin paying for an apartment by himself, with his budget intact. He looks forward to completing his undergraduate degree in 2014, getting a job at a large technology company and eventually pursuing a master’s degree.
“I want to be successful and live a less stressful life,” Timothy says. “I want to be a role model. I’d like to do the same thing for others that this program did for me.”
*For the client’s privacy, his name has been changed.
It’s been a tough road with many hardships for Rachel, but with the help of ChildServ, this loving mother has overcome many obstacles. Rachel started to build her life from the ground up with a parent educator from ChildServ’s Parent Empowerment Program: Liljana Patzke.
Before she came to ChildServ, Rachel was struggling to find a house she could call home. She had tragically lost one of her young children and began to struggle emotionally. She became pregnant and had health complications that caused her to lose her house and eventually seek a homeless shelter. Because most homeless shelters all have a certain time limit of allowed stay, Rachel had difficulties finding a place to live before her time expired. Her circumstances became too much to handle by herself, and without a permanent residence, she lost custody of her two older children. Rachel knew she needed to get her life back on track, and she wanted to get back custody of her children. She found help in Liljana and ChildServ.
With Liljana’s encouragement and research, Rachel found a transitional apartment. The apartment gave Rachel hope and happiness, and represented her first step to getting back custody of her children. Liljana has helped Rachel with parenting her new baby, who was born prematurely. She connected her to a specialized program for children with developmental problems, and she also referred her to counseling so that she could work through her feelings about her past and the loss of her child.
Last, Liljana assists Rachel through the formal parent empowerment process provided through PEP, which ChildServ operates in Elgin, Carpentersville, Waukegan, Zion, Beach Park, Mundelein, neighborhoods within the city of Chicago, and Harvey and its surrounding communities. PEP works with pare