Mission Moments

We help families and their support networks, we build RESILIENT families!! During a beautiful conversation we had with one of our volunteer Mentors this month, she relayed the experience she had with her family. When she began working with the family the Mom stated, “some people see their children as a blessing, I see mine as a burden.” She now told the Mentor she realizes “Everyone has troubles with their children and much of them are the same problems. Now instead of walking away from my children when they are acting up I listen and learn from them.”   We also know that children spend much of their day with their childcare providers. We are fortunate to work with the YWCA and the Early Head Start Program. This month we were able to provide Active Parenting The First Five Years workshop, in Spanish, to the hard-working professionals that take care of our precious children that are born into poverty. 

This month we trained new Parent Mentors and Presenters for Project HELP. It was a fantastic day of being with people who give of their time, talent and love, in order to  exercise courage to support our community. Project HELP is committed to walking individuals through different cycles. Cycles of abuse, poverty, educational disparity, and the list goes on. WE ARE CYCLE BREAKERS and our new Parent Mentors and Presenters give us the opportunity to reach more families.

This month we are serving a mom that has a baby and is experiencing domestic violence. Her partner is unemployed and refusing to care for the baby while Mom works. The mother often had to call in to work for an excused day off in order to care for her child. She was going to lose her job. Our Parent Mentor Specialist was able to assist her in walking through the child care assistance program, find a child care center she felt most comfortable with and set this woman and mother up for success at work, parenting and independence.

In February some of our New Year's resolutions and goals start to wane.  We create goals quarterly with each of our families and work with parents to actualize these goals. Some responses we have gotten from families when they see this come to fruition are so motivational! One Mom stated “Managing expectations, more empathy, not yelling as much and better communication” was how her goals manifested for her family. Another stated she now has a “calm mind, calm home”. This is the impact of helping families begin with their strengths, strategize on what they desire for their family and setting up action plans and accountability and they see what is possible! A goal of Project HELP was to increase our bilingual workshop facilitators....we met that goal this month! Please welcome Saul Flores. He comes to us with incredible experience as a live-in house parent for an orphanage for 3-years, a Program Coordinator with Puente Del Pueblo preparing first generation college students, as well as a trained and current Foster Parent, himself!  

This month one of our families said,  “Thank you to my Mentor, and the entire program. I know how to be a good father and how to have a good family. I greatly appreciate this program, it works, I would recommend it to all parents.”

Our team and partners flooded our world this month with their goodwill and support in preparation for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Project HELP enjoyed supporting the Wheaton Warrenville Early Childhood Collaboration’s Day of Play. This is always a purposeful day of bringing joy to families and reinforcing the importance of play with learning and connection.  We are continuing to share the Exchange Club’s Child Abuse Prevention material and spread the great work of Exchange. (#ExchangeCares)

This month we want to take the opportunity to thank the Exchange Club of Naperville for their support at the Allocation Luncheon. Without their tireless commitment to child abuse prevention, none of our services would be possible.

When looking through some of the goals our families set quarterly with their Mentor or Social Worker, there is a common theme. They often centere around communication, creating structure, setting limits, behavior management and discipline (to disciple- to lead...NOT punishment). When we reflect on all of the stressors that our families face with trauma, isolation, poverty and the list goes on...we all want the same thing for our families and our lives, regardless of the circumstances. We want peace. We want to be listened to and understood. We want mastery and control over the emotional climate of our lives. We want connection.

We recently had a family with small children who were living in a homeless shelter, secure a residence!! This is the kind of news and family resilience that absolutely amazes us!  We would like to ask our supporters to consider a donation, as the family is  beginning from scratch. If you have a small refrigerator, air mattress or any basic home essentials that you are willing to donate and drop off at our Project HELP (Naperville) or the Addison office, we would greatly appreciate it. Please contact our Project HELP Parent Mentor Specialist, Diamond Brown, at diamond.brown@ywcachicago.org.

We also want to highlight one of our Mentors, Katie. She has been selflessly serving our families as a volunteer Mentor for 3-years. Katie will meet families before they go to work, on Saturday’s, in the evenings--whatever it takes to support them on their journey to become better parents. She has served families facing domestic violence, living in transitional housing, with significant behavioral and learning challenges with their children, as well as support them with school Individual Education Plans (IEPs). She is such a gift to the families and our program. Katie was a special education teacher for 30 years and chooses to give back, in her retirement. Thank you, Katie!

We also want to thank our sponsors for our May 3rd Annual Breakfast.  We are looking forward to all of you attending and bringing your friends, colleagues, family, and anyone else that you want to have an inspired morning that supports the community in a profound way! Please go to projecthelpdupage.org and click on community events and purchase your ticket. All the money raised at this event supports Project HELP and our direct service.

April is a month that we are in FULL promotion of child abuse prevention!!  It is child abuse prevention month and we were honored to receive a proclamation from the city of Naperville. They are always so generous and supportive of our work!

This month wee had the opportunity to thank Dawn Portner, our Mentor of the Year, for her dedication, energy and pure heart that she brings to the families we serve. She has provided support, wisdom, companionship, encouragement, and a lifeline to our families and we are FOREVER GRATEFUL for her selfless commitment to giving others a “hand up”. Thank you, Dawn!

This month we had the opportunity to hear Dan Cronin, our DuPage County Board Chairman, speak this week about DuPage County to the City Club of Chicago. It was an exciting post election event and many high ranking individuals came to hear his message. We are very humbled by the inspiration, dedication and leadership he has provided DuPage. We acted on his words and this is what has created the partnership we now enjoy with the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. Due to his message of consolidation and transparency, we now are making a greater impact with the most passionate and invested professionals and community members. Thank you Dan Cronin!

Our team is in full throttle in providing workshops for 90 parents through 6 different workshops!  We are excited for the opportunity to offer our Active Parenting workshops to the parents and staff of Early Head Start, as well as the community. This impactful work, and paying it forward to the community is what child abuse prevention is all about!!

Please join us at our Community Begins At Home Breakfast on May 3rd! Thank you to all of the sponsors who are making this event possible!! We are in the final week of our only fundraising event that supports our program....and we are ready to have our community members, friends and family enjoy and learn! We guarantee you will come away inspired, energized and grateful. Without our fundraising, we could NOT do the work that is desperately needed in our community.

Pictures do tell a thousand words!!  GRATITUDE, COMMITMENT, COMMUNITY,  FEARLESS HEARTS!!! Thank you for sincerely making a difference! The Project HELP Breakfast fundraiser was an event that moved people to learn, grow, and contribute. Shenandoah Chefalo was a gift to all of us that had the privilege of listening to her.

We are incredibly grateful to 100+ Women Who Care in Naperville! Our Board member, Vicky Coletta, had the opportunity to highlight Project HELP during their quarterly meeting. She discussed our need for a full-time Social Worker to serve our 150 parents on our waiting list that are anxiously awaiting some parent mentoring and support. 100+ Women responded to the request and chose Project HELP to benefit from their generosity. The Naperville community never ceases to amaze us with their compassion and generosity!

We recently celebrated our community of heroes at the West Suburban Philanthropy Awards Luncheon. Our own, Karen Tulloch, was a finalist for this year’s nonprofit volunteer of the year award. It was inspirational!

We are always exceptionally inspired when we have an opportunity to share thoughts from the parents we serve. One Mom stated, “I waited on the waitlist a long time but feel so fortunate to be in the program...this was the time I needed it the most, for myself and my son.”  A father wrote, “I did not think or believe this program would work at all! Now I am very grateful to be in the program as I have found it beneficial for myself, partner and son especially in helping him succeed in school.” Three years ago we hosted 5 workshops a year, in May we held 5 workshops in one week! In April we topped all of our numbers serving 132 parents. We offered Active Parenting 6-12 years of age, Thirty Million Words and the Importance of Early Literacy, Nutrition for Your Family, all in Spanish and English.

This month we are highlighting our Parent Mentor Specialist, Diamond Brown! She works with our most fragile families. In her service with Project HELP, she has accomplished unprecedented collaborations, navigated extreme situations with families, and has increased our financial partnerships. Diamond successfully completed 2 workshops in a new school district on co-parenting and stress management. She will be hosting 2 additional trainings on financial literacy, anxiety, and depression in children. With her unprecedented success, she now has 9 more schools interested in hosting our workshops. Diamond even arranged for a Mandarin translator to be present for the families. Diamond also serves 14 families with home visitation each week!

In May we promoted and shared materials for Mental Health Awareness Week- we loved seeing some of our families learn about this important topic and support awareness. 

This month, on a visit with one of our volunteer mentor’s, our bilingual parent mentor specialist was able to celebrate a Dad and his little girl’s birthday. The child was turning six and the Dad shared “we have never had a cake or celebration” with that the child stated “WOW this was my birthday party!” Let us celebrate each other and the wonderful professionals that spread all kinds of love, education and support to our children!

Our Project HELP team loved attending the Child Abuse Prevention Symposium in Virginia hosted by the National Exchange Club.  Our own volunteer, Dawn Portner, was selected as the National Mentor of the Year. Dawn has been a gift to Project HELP, as well as taking on and serving some of our most challenging families. We are forever grateful for Dawn and all that she has done for our families and for Project HELP. She is a hero among us! Click below to view Dawn receiving this award,   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8teIJZ8oJBc&feature=share

It is time to go back to school, a time that can be financially stressful for our parents. We are so proud of our partnership with the Exchange Club and all they do for our families as they reenter school. They have organized a summer school supply drive for our families this year. We are excited to help all of our families get back into school with everything they need. Our YWCA family has donated back to school kits for our early learners and easing the transitions. These donations mean so much to our team and our families!

We are exceedingly excited for our growing parent education workshops. We have been able to facilitate over 25 workshop sessions this summer alone. In Spanish and English our Project HELP staff and professional consultants, have covered topics on Active Parenting, Social Media Safety, Bullying, Managing School Systems, Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Vaping, one-on one-Social Media Consultation with parent and pre-teens, Mental Health and Trauma for our teaching professionals...and the list goes on! These workshops have been conducted in schools, domestic violence shelters, libraries, churches, and throughout the community.

This fall we will be conducting three series of workshops in partnership with Bensenville School District 2, Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation (Aurora, Il), and Family Bridges (West Chicago, IL). We will host 48 different workshop sessions with the community! Visit our Events Page to learn more and share these opportunities and partnerships with your network.

A gift that everyone at Project HELP loves to embrace during the month of August is making parents and children’s lives easier!  The ‘Back-to-School’ season as financially stressful as well as the transition to new teachers and children’s anxiety. We are so proud of our partnership with the Exchange Club and all they do for our families as they reenter school. Our YWCA family also has donated back to school kits for our early learners and easing the transitions. We are forever grateful. We know how much it means to the families!

This summer we have greatly expanded our reach into the community through workshops. We love reading our parent feedback from our workshops. One parent stated, “I didn’t know that I am in control. I can control our family’s time, social media, and telephone usage.”  We are empowering parents! Another stated, “I cannot wait to share everything I am learning with my family and neighbors.” We are strengthening the community! We are proud of our Project HELP’s mission and we are delivering on it every day!

We as a team and community want to thank, Dawn Portner and the Exchange Club for continuing to bring in our much-needed school supplies for our children. The Exchange Club has collected donations of over 800 different school supplies for our families! We see so much gratitude and excitement to begin their school year with dignity, prep aredness, and the love and kindness of the community surrounding them! This Mom of 3 stated, “I am in pure joy to have supplies for all of my kids and they will be prepared to learn! Last year my son begged to stay home from school and this year he is so excited to be ready to start and to go!” Thank you so much Exchange Club for such an incredible donation!


We had a special visit this month, by a new funder to Project HELP. We are so thankful to International Paper for their grant of $7,500 for our Parent Mentor Program. They were incredibly kind, generous, and supportive of our work!  It is because of community and corporate partners we can read results on our assessments with families like this one from ...our client’s researched-based assessment indicating significant improvement in the area of appropriate family roles and child development expectations. It also indicated that she has learned alternatives to corporal punishment as a form of discipline.  During her year with our program, this Mom has become self-sufficient and found employment! She has established healthy boundaries with family members and has been advocating for her daughter’s needs at school. Mom stated, “I feel proud that I have become nurturing, strong, and independent. I want to be an example to my daughters.” THIS IS BREAKING THE CYCLE of poverty and child maltreatment. Thank you all for making this work possible!

School is back in full swing and we are happy to support our school systems and families during this time.  We had a family referred to us last year by a school because their daughter was not attending school. We worked with the family setting goals and communication and we are so happy to report that she ended her year strong and is successfully transitioning to high school! She even joined the cheerleading team. She told our team, “I look forward to going to school every day.” 

As our parenting workshops grow and continue into the school year, We had a mom tell us, during a workshop “I need to learn patience...and learning about brain development and learning about mindfulness has helped me so much!”


We want to thank Kelly Farley of Give Back Realty for his generous donation to Project HELP. It is the compassionate hearts out in the community that enable us to do the work our neighbors so desperately need!

We are also INCREDIBLY grateful to the Bensenville School District for giving Project HELP the opportunity to work with over 700 middle school students and educate them on Vaping. It was a powerful full day with the students! We are committed at Project HELP to listening to what our community members and parents need and supporting them in providing the most impactful and useful information. It is a gift to us all.

Finally, we simply cannot get enough of the pictures that come in from our children and parents being so incredibly excited for their Back to School Supplies! Thank you all for the donations!


Success is a thing of beauty.  It is also in the eye of the beholder. When a family has a successful closer with our Project HELP Parent Mentor Program, they have met at least 2 goals that are established and measured (most often- more than 2 are achieved) and received services once a week for a year. Our Lead Bilingual Social Worker showed our team this from a child and family we served and are ready to close. It melted my heart.  The Mom also stated on her closing documentation “Thank you so much for everything your organization have done. The time with us changed our lives. We were so happy and you helped so much.” This is success and a thing of beauty to us!

We have one huge milestone to celebrate! Project HELP has gone through the National Accreditation Process as the Exchange Club of Naperville’s Child Abuse Prevention Center. We were awarded the highest rating possible. We have AAA status! This makes us so incredibly proud to be recognized as a premier child abuse prevention program and get national recognition.  Thank you so much to our staff, the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago team, our board members and volunteers and the Exchange Club of Naperville for allowing us to do this incredibly challenging and life-altering work. 

Veteran’s Day weekend is upon us and we want to give our wholehearted thank you and deepest love to all the men and women who have protected and served our county and those brave individuals serving us all today. It is the ultimate act of service! We want to share with you all a photo of our Child and Family Development team that supports our work at Project HELP, as well as run their own phenomenal programming in Cook County. This group of strong and talented women lifts up the lives of parents and children every day. They are our team and support network. This team bringing together their wisdom, experiences, and passion for their work. Our commitment to children and families is why we all have the good fortune of reading quotes like this from a Mother, “I hope you will continue helping us guide our children in the future. I am just so thankful you take the time to meet with me, it is exactly what I needed.” - single mother of 2 and a child with special needs

This month we have to celebrate our Project HELP mom, Brandy today! Brandy spoke in front of over 1,000 people at our 2019 YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Leader Luncheon.  She was the sole, in-person testimony, to advocate for our programming and the difference it has made in her life. She was poised, confident, and powerful in sharing what the Project HELP program has meant for her as a mother and woman. YWCA leadership was incredibly kind and supportive of her, and the courage it takes to get on that stage and advocate for crucial services.

A moment like this can undoubtedly change the life of the woman who learns she is valued, her voice matters, and she can change lives.  Brandy brought people to tears and brought our work home to our hearts. Thank you, Brandy, for being a hero to your daughter, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago and Project HELP.

We are in the season of thankfulness and gratitude!  We are never short on moments to be so grateful for! We celebrated our Mentor of the Year, Katie Kratzert, at Volapalooza 2019!  Katie is an incredible gift to our families. She has mentored many families for Project HELP over the past 3 1/2 years. She came to us with over 30-years of special education teaching experience with the Chicago Public Schools on the south side of Chicago. She has served some of our most educationally challenged families, helping them navigate the school system, supporting them and always, always going the extra mile!  Thank you Katie for your graceful, loving and wise soul. We are forever grateful for your volunteer impact and dedication.

We also want to give a huge CONGRATULATIONS to one of our Project HELP participants that completed the Transportation and Logistics program at the YWCA’s Economic Empowerment Program. This is a 12-week program, with 8-weeks in the classroom training, and 4-weeks of paid internship. She will receive her forklift certification and her OSHA-10 safety certification, allowing her to obtain a job in almost any warehouse or logistics company, leading to higher wages and quality of life for her and her family!  WAY TO GO!!  

Finally, we want to congratulate our Active Parenting graduates of our Bensenville, 10-week series on parent education, family and personal management.  This was a committed and fun group! We are incredibly proud of the success of these programs, offered in Spanish and English. We were even able to receive many video testimonials because the Mom’s were so grateful. Thank you Bensenville School District for being a LEADER in family engagement and supporting your entire community!


We are sure all of you are aware of the #GivingTuesday campaign that occurred this past month and implore our community to help us get the word out regarding our fundraising needs.  Project HELP is completely reliant on donations, philanthropy, and grants to run our programming. Please encourage anyone you know, that is interested in protecting children and investing in families for our collective future and theirs to consider donating to Project HELP. We truly appreciate your consideration and helping us to spread the word so that we can continue to serve and uplift our neighbors!

We are all enjoying this time of year where we can share our love, laughter and well wishes with each other. We know we all have more love in our hearts than we can possibly give! We enjoy this time of year with Project HELP as we see friends come forward to help strangers, who are their neighbors, have a moment of peace.  Letting their love overload out and sharing with those who are in a time where they need to be reminded that we are here to love each other and take care of each other. One of our hardworking families that experienced a significant setback due to a medical condition said, “...Thank you so much for considering us. From the bottom to the top of my heart I truly cannot express enough how much I appreciate all the help, guidance, and praise you all have given me and my family. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Happy Holidays to you and your families.” We would love for you to consider helping us, lift and love the families we have the privilege of serving with our Parent Mentor Program. We wish you all the joy life has to offer during this holiday season!