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!

We are so thankful to be here, in the new year, with all of you! We want to thank NCTV and one of our Mom’s for highlighting Project HELP over the holidays.  It was beautiful and brave! Click to watch: https://www.nctv17.com/spotlight/ywca-metropolitan-chicagos-project-help-program/

We feel so fortunate to work with our families and amazing community partnerships, like Naperville Community Television (https://www.nctv17.com/), that allows our story to be told. Our team hears statements and responses from our families that move us all the time- a Mom this week when asked the question “What has changed in how your respond to your children?”....she replied “My child’s safety has changed and their well being has grown. Because of that it has brought joy back into his life.”  We invite you to re-read that response. It is a HUGE win for this child and family!

We wanted to take a moment this week to warm everyone’s hearts and highlight our outstanding lead bilingual social worker Estefania Palafox!  She is by far one of the most outstanding professionals we have ever had the opportunity to have on our team! We are all so thankful everyday that she is part of our team at Project HELP!!

We are always so happy to work with our partners to get the service to families done! We are thankful to our partners at Loaves and Fishes! (https://www.loaves-fishes.org/)  We are able to deliver food on our home visits to those that cannot afford, nor travel to food banks.  We realized, due to this partnership, one of our families is no longer living with food insecurity.  This is a single father, currently unemployed without transportation or childcare. They were going to extreme and unhealthy measures to just sustain. Now, with weekly home visits that include food, the family is able to eat. This is something many of us cannot imagine.  Thank you to our village!

We also had a 7th grader express to our social worker this week at his one on one visit with her at his school, “I am now in a good place. I was not in a good place last year, now I am feeling better and working on loving myself.”  This is what every parent prays for their 7th grader to say and feel.

One of our incredible Advisory Board members, and a Parent Mentor for our program, reminded us that the community does not always realize we are a child abuse prevention program.  In this mission moment, we always can find the positive changes we are making with our home visiting program and workshops. Always. However, we are exposed every week to some very dark and heavy things.  This month we had a baby with a fractured skull.  Mom reached out to her home visitor, from the hospital, because an investigation will be occurring.  This mom met her home visitor one week ago. We will now be a weekly presence in this child’s life for minimally one year. Child abuse prevention.  We also had a school district reach out to us because they believed a mother was living in a storage unit with her middle schooler.  Our Social Worker was able to locate Mom and child and they are living in a storage unit and have been for quite some time. It’s January in Chicago. We will be working with this family on a weekly basis to change this trajectory.  Child abuse prevention. All of our parents want a better life for their children and we are the lifeline that they have.  The community is counting on us, schools are counting on us, families are counting on us and most importantly, children are counting on us!

Mark your calendars for September 15th! (Updated from May 6th due to Covid19 Crisis) This is our annual fundraiser that supports our work in the prevention of child abuse.  Without the support from this breakfast, we could not do the work we do! Please join us and hear from Erin Merryn the founder of Erin’s law! 

We will also be presenting Dr. James Stelter with Project HELP’s Outstanding Leader Honoree Award.  He is a trail blazer, compassionate leader and an overall game changer for children and parents in the Bensenville community.  He has been a strong and invaluable partner with Project HELP and supporter of our mission for the last 6 years.  He was also recently named to the early childhood funding commission by Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz as the Superintendent for Bensenville School District 2.

We are happy to celebrate that one of our Mom’s who aged out of the foster care system and faced significant challenges, is in a much better place after working with our Parent Mentor Specialist.  Mom did not have any family or support of any kind, when she left foster care. She had a job, but after needing to take an unpaid maternity leave, she found herself at risk of eviction. Our Project HELP Parent Mentor Specialist  connected her with the YWCA’s Economic Empowerment program, while also receiving our Project HELP home visitation. Mom reported this week that she was offered a job with the United States Post office and can even afford health benefits! Mom and child went from being on the verge of homelessness, with no support, to a well paying, life sustaining job and parenting support through our program....and we are just beginning with this Mom. THIS FILLS OUR HEARTS AT PROJECT HELP!!  

We had a mother tell her Parent Mentor Specialist this week “my husband asked me what exactly does she do.....I told him that you are truly my motivator. You uplift me and allow me to be the center for a change. I told him this is “me” time and something I look forward to every week.  I feel so much lighter when sharing my struggles with you especially with the children and my own stuff.”

Our professionals came together this month for our quarterly Child and Family Development team meeting and this FILLED OUR CUP!  We honored the fact that the individuals who do this work with families are modeling resilience and effecting ripples of change in our communities through their relationship building and commitment to children and families. A whole hearted THANK YOU to Dr. Robin Choquette, from Amita Health Care and Elite Performance Counseling as well as Jennifer Samartano of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, for presenting, listening, inspiring, encouraging, and giving gratitude to the work this team puts forth in promoting and understanding resilience.

Three of her Mom’s have gotten jobs and now she has to strategize when she will be able to do the home visits as they are no longer available during the day. The particular area they reside is not very safe to go into during the evenings, alone, as a home visitor. It is a great problem to strategize around!  We are so proud of our resilient mom’s and the progress they are making!! Our motto is always that if sweethearts like these two live and thrive in a home, then we will figure out a way to conduct home visits and promote and strengthen their families!

We hope this message finds all of you healthy, safe, and in connection with your loved ones. As with all of us, we have never worked so hard and feverishly. Our team at Project HELP and the YWCA is truly getting some mountains moved, and the impossible accomplished. We are all collectively witnessing incredible bravery and kindness in our communities and this is what energizes us all!

We are honored to welcome our new Advisory Board members to our Project HELP family! We have been exceptionally fortunate to have them join our team and help raise awareness and growth in our undaunted efforts to protect children and the families they live in.

Project HELP as has gone virtual. We are running our parent mentor program and have not missed a beat. Our families get virtual home visits....some even daily.  Isolation was the biggest challenge for parents before this pandemic, and now it is exponential.  Essential services that were provided from DCFS and other organizations, cannot and are not able to keep up with the demand for our vulnerable children. We are standing in this gap!  Parents are stressed beyond comprehension and children, potentially can pay the price. Our team has mobilized mental health check in’s with everyone on our waitlist, and those who have attended our workshops. In the last 48 hours we were able to reach out to 102 families! We are asking basic wellness questions regarding their basic needs, child care, jobs and wifi access.  We also are asking if they would like these check in’s to continue. It is a resounding YES.  People are scared, alone and without answers. We have been able to connect our families to endless, viable resources.  

 We have two of our Project HELP staff put together a resource guide for the Western Suburbs and the City of Chicago in Spanish and English. It has everything from tactical resources to games and activities. If you would like to have access to this or for any questions, please reach out to sofia.bobak@ywcachicago.org.

These calls and our virtual home visits have shown some emerging trends. Our families are in desperate need. There is a need for food for those without transportation or funds. There is needs for gas, as many of our families work in health care facilities, grocery stores and manufacturing. With reduction of hours and job loss, we see spikes in need for diapers and formula. We had a large portion of people report that they cannot meet their basic needs at all. As the weeks have passed, we have reached out to over 300 families, and the resounding need as we close the month of March is rent assistance.

Project HELP is also in great need to support our program as we move forward.  All of this work is occurring with 4 full time staff and 3 part time.  Our fundraiser will be happening- but we will be postponing it until September 15th. This greatly impacts our ability to offer services. Please consider donating to our families and our program.  You can go directly to projecthelpdupage.org/donate.  There is an option to designate what you would like to donate, and we will have it safely shipped to the family with a note from you or anonymous.  This will let struggling individuals know there are people out there that care about them! If you would like to donate to our program, we would greatly appreciate the necessary support. There is also a monthly donation option.  

We are making this work and empowering our families. Currently, this is the office of the person spear heading all or our community outreach....as she has 2 little foster children in her home....and this is where she can find quiet.  We are trying to maintain a sense of humor and a warrior spirit, and I think this epitomizes this!

As you may know, our monthly mission moments highlights the great things we are experiencing with Project HELP.  We can confidently tell you, Project HELP and the YWCA could write a novel, over this past month. We experience every emotion on a daily basis!  We are inspired, exhilarated, motivated, scared, humbled, exhausted and brave....to name a few. We have reached out to over 300 families with our one on one mentoring and outreach.  All families have requested on going connection with us.  Most families reported that they are not able to meet there basic needs.  We have collected, distributed and taught through every issue from food insecurity, homelessness, internet connectivity for elearning, domestic violence, legal and court issues, custody concerns, medical fragility and the list is exhaustive. This team has become the ultimate safety net and sanity for DuPage and Aurora families, as well as our community partners.  

One of our Project HELP participants made a video for us addressing her experience at this time.  She is beautiful inside and out and we are thankful she chose to share her story with us. Click to view her story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D3gbNuJNFQ&t=11s

Peggy McGuire Wrote, I have been reflecting a lot about my own father, who passed away when I was in my early 20’s.  He was a WWII Navy Yeoman, a Chicago Police Officer, a father of 7 and a sibling to 14. His wisdom resonates with me often. People, were my father’s wealth.  He use to say “Who are your 4am people? You better have some!”  He would go onto say “You only have 4am people, if you are a 4am person. Period. It’s how it works!”

Your 4am people are those you can call if you get a flat on the Eisenhower in a snow storm and it’s 4am......your spouse or child are gravely ill and it’s 4am....your house is on fire (literally or figuratively) and it’s 4am and you need a place to stay.....who are your 4am people?

 I KNOW I am surrounded by a team of 4am people. We are here for you, our community, and where ever the courage and compassion are required.

 I truly ask that you take the time- away from Tiger King- and click on the links below. The first is from a Mom we serve, that sent us this video, on her own accord to thank us all.  The second, is our Facebook live event that occurred this month. You will get to see some ugly crying....spoiler alert.

I just want to take a moment of reverence to the shero’s that are our 4am dream team at Project HELP.

These pictures represent our team having confidential calls in their parked cars, late nights with their children as they organize efforts for families, wearing their children as they do virtual home visits and getting on the safest of gear to get our grants to the post office on time.

Thank you all, with a special gratitude to the Exchange Club of Naperville, that support our 4am team of warriors!

  1. https://youtu.be/lQDLsAWUcaA
  2. https://youtu.be/cEibaDxE8EY

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to our own Vicki Coletta for earning the Exchange Club of Naperville’s CARES award today.  We honored her life-changing commitment to families and children with a virtual luncheon today.  Vicki is someone who has profoundly changed many lives, as well as being the backbone of Project HELP for 26 years!

We also want to celebrate one of our Mothers.  Our Parent Mentor Specialist, Betty, connected a well-deserving, single mother, to scholarship opportunities through College of DuPage.  She was awarded two of the scholarships and will now be able to further her education and economic opportunities.  These beautiful babies will be the beneficiary of this trajectory and change.

Our team at Project HELP truly needs to reflect on the wins.  We are walking through our days and nights with very heavy hearts, like many of you. During this week, we had a father pass away from COVID, and he lived with 8 other people. We had a mother state she was planning to end her life, and we did serious interventions. We are in this with our beloved families we serve at Project HELP and the YWCA and grateful that they have us to come to.

Please click on the link below and you will not be disappointed!  If you are running short on time--go to minute 18:38 and promise me you will not miss our Mom, Ambar, share her story.  It was completely unscripted, heartfelt, and moved me beyond words. It was the reminder we all need- TO KEEP GOING!  Being resilient takes work, grit and support! I am forever thankful we are in a position to give a hand up to families like Ambar’s. https://youtu.be/pnyNpEUJn_w

Our families are sending us so many beautiful pictures and video’s that we cannot wait to share.  Our friends will finally meet the incredible families that we have the privilege of serving. Click and Enjoy: https://youtu.be/WnXbx8UsHLo

Additionally, Peggy McGuire put together of pictures and events from the past few days. It is short.  It is beautiful. You will be grateful to partner with such incredible people that we have the great fortune to work with!! Click to Watch: https://youtu.be/zbFkobQWGCU

-The Project HELP Team

Thank you all for your continued support of our precious families and program during the most challenging of times!  Please click on the link below and hear from one of our Dad’s, Bill, that wanted to share his experience with Project HELP in this 2-minute video: https://youtu.be/kyVxfd7saF4

 

 

Thank you for attending our first-ever concert fundraiser!  This is what makes our work with Bill possible. You can still watch it on our Facebook page! Tune in and enjoy some free entertainment on Facebook and Follow us on Facebook at Project Help DuPage. We featured the band OFF THE CHARTS!  They cover well-known rock, 80’s, country and top 40.  You will not be disappointed!  

You still have an opportunity to easily donate directly to Project HELP and learn more about our families and program all while having FUN!!  Having fun while helping to protect and provide for our children! We had over 6000 views!! Our fundraising efforts are critical during this time of uncertainty, child abuse, and domestic violence on the rise, and our services are in more demand than EVER before. Click to watch now: https://www.facebook.com/ywcachicago/videos/1210114196002668/?t=0 

 

Donations can be made by going to our webpage at www.projecthelpdupage.org  

-The Project HELP Team

It is with a heavy, yet joyful heart, that our Project HELP family says, “see you later” to our beloved Estefania Palafox and Diamond Brown.  Estefania and our CEO, Peggy McGuire, have worked together for 6 years and she developed and completely built our Spanish speaking Project HELP program.  She is nothing short of a miracle worker and an absolute dream teammate. She has taught us all so much and we are forever grateful for our time together. She will be pursuing a career in school social work and will continue to bless any community that has the great fortune of working with her!  Diamond has been with our team for over 2-years and she began our program on the south side of Chicago. Diamond is an old soul that has the vision, joy and tenacity to make huge changes in our communities.  Her family is being transferred out of state and we will miss her dearly.  She is exceptional.

Please click on the link and enjoy some photos of us all around Chicagoland with partners, awards, conferences, work with families......but mostly, truly loving being part of this phenomenal team and enjoying each other: https://vimeo.com/436942638

-The Project HELP Team

Meet our Families: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB0fatSBK_0&t=12s

This month completed our first week-long workshop called Opioids Explained in Spanish and English in partnership with Bensenville School District. We also received a call the first week of August from a Naperville community member and they were referring a family to us with significant urgency.  The mother has an 8-year-old child and twin newborns that are still in the hospital. This family is in great need and is at risk of homelessness.  We were able to enroll the family and begin serving them immediately building the family up, getting the resources they need, and strengthening the family as a whole.  We love that at Project HELP we never take our eye off the ball!  We are here for the community, and we are here for every parent and child that wants to be the best leader of their family that they can be!!  These faces and the love behind them are what fuels our everyday!

In August, we traditionally would be preparing for the back to school season and wrapping up our summer festivities. This all looks different at this time, but still some really beautiful aspects.  Summer activities may be able to be prolonged.  We can enjoy the heat, before the winter, go on a walk or be in shorts all day long.  Our exciting school-related news, Betty, our Social Worker, reported 5 of her 11 Mom’s she is serving, are going back to school!!  Almost half of her families being served are getting their GED, working toward a bachelor’s and one an advanced degree. Betty has worked to secure scholarships with COD and support and empower these women. This is cycle breaking.  This is life-changing. Betty shared a text that one Mother sent her right before she started her first class stating “in just a couple of minutes I start my first class! Thank you so much for believing in me and helping me accomplish my goals.” That is exactly right. She is about to begin.  We were able to secure a computer for a Mom who is going back to get her GED, so she too can begin. 

We are all heavy-hearted, there is no doubt.  There are also beginnings and breakthroughs and constant learning occurring. We must see the Silver Linings.

Meet one of our families: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dh4X7SSprQ&t=2s

This month, at our Child and Family Development meeting, we asked for our team, to take the time to engage with each other and send some positive messages during the week, if time allowed. We sent them all a jar to fill. We all miss each other.  We are social servants, that are socially isolated. We still have the privilege of doing our work and serving families that are facing extremely difficult situations and they are counting on us!  We need to fill our “cup” as well. It felt so great to remind our team how awesome they are, and receive some beautiful messages that we were able to write down and put into my “cup”.

Autumn has arrived and back to school has too.  It looks a little different, but it is still an exciting time.  We are so thankful we are here to support our parents as they learn the technology, eLearning, juggling their work and child care and the endless list of challenges families are experiencing right now.  We are flooded with comments on being a lifeline to families at this time and statements that they are not sure how they would have gotten this far without the support of Project HELP.  

Happiness is when a school social worker reaches out via email on a Monday night to tell us that a child with special needs, whose mother had been incredibly hard to reach and disengaged has completely turned her parenting around!  They reported out that not only had this mother been unable to feed her child, get him to his doctor appointments for correct medication, or to participate in school in any effective way, is now regularly engaged with the school team.  The social worker stated that the “difference is Project Help and the support and encouragement they have given this Mother.” Our volunteer Mentor, along with our Social Worker, has been able to provide the guidance, compassion, and concrete supports (like Uber vouchers to get to doctor appointments) to make a lasting and effective impact on this parent-child relationship and ultimately the child’s success!

We are excited to be a part of these precious newborn twins' journey with their families.  It is particularly awesome when we can support a family with their parenting right from the start! We know the lasting impact!!

Finally, thank you to everyone who joined us at our event annual fundraiser. Erin Merryn’s message is a MUST experience and hear!  If you missed our event, reach out to us so we can provide you with a copy of the recording. We truly appreciate your support, and more importantly, hearing from heroes like Erin Merryn, Dr. Stelter, and Zac Larson!! It is a short and impactful program. You will be so glad you checked it out!! Please consider a donation of any kind!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QXnPiJjA_k&t=21s

We are incredibly thankful to the Lavin Family Foundation!  They donated back to school supplies, clothes, shoes and other necessities to our families!!!  It fills our hearts when we can share the generosity and love for our community with others. We had some warrior staff members that hauled, stored and delivered over 235 items to our families. This should encourage and inspire us all! THANK YOU!!

Please join us in welcoming Ashley Robinson!  Ashley is a Masters level Social Worker and graduate of Indiana University. She comes to us with experience in the mental health field as a Child and Adolescent Therapist and Crisis Specialist over the past three years. She has a passion for working with children and families who have a significant history of trauma and helping support them through self-empowerment and self-efficacy.  As our Project HELP Parent Mentor Specialist, serving our families on the south side of Chicago, she will empower parents and work towards reducing the cycle of trauma.  We are so fortunate to have her join our team and serve our community!

As we know, our children are always excited about Halloween and receiving treats!  I was inspired this season by the projects our parents had their children working on and some of the treats they received.  Due to the generosity of our Advisory Board Chair, Jeanne Naughton, and her son, Sofia and Abby were able to deliver a MUCH needed computer to one of our children that did not have one. He was sharing a phone for e-learning with his siblings.  THANK YOU! ....and you just have to check out this creative Mom who wasn’t making homemade Halloween costumes...she demonstrated how powerful the home learning process can be!! Genius.

Meet our Families: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cEMW9RlppU

We are all dealing with an unprecedented amount of uncertainty.  That is for certain!! Our families remind us daily of how loving, protecting and staying strong for each other is how to stay resilient! 

Our team holds our families, communities and each other up during the most challenging of times.  Mark Nepo wrote, “Being true to who we are means carrying our spirit like a candle in the center of our darkness...this means staying committed to your inner path...not separating from yourself when things get rough...marrying our humanness to our spirit and creating a life that is doubly strong in the world.” This month we challenge our staff, supporters, and community to have our human behavior align with our spirits and what moves us, and not be reflective of our fears. We all need each other to let our light shine through right now and have it show up in our interactions. 

We are in the season of thankfulness!! We are forever grateful to the YWCA team that works tirelessly to secure donations for our families in need! We are so grateful for the donations that came to our team, in the form of socks, undergarments and necessary winter apparel. This is incredibly needed!!

We also want to thank the tireless staff and volunteers that have worked on distributing the donations! There are always ALOT of logistics and time management, on top of our daily responsibilities. Our team, our mentors, and volunteers are relentless when it comes to serving and providing for those in need!

Have a wonderful holiday season, everyone!! We will be in touch, with breaks during this upcoming time.  Beauty is all around us!! Soak it in!

–Peggy McGuire, Director of Child and Family Development

Meet Our Families: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnXbx8UsHLo

Thank you for supporting Project HELP through another year that allowed us to continue our evidence-based program and prevent child abuse. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution that will help prevent child abuse and build strong futures for so many children by empowering and developing competent nurturing parents. Right now, Project HELP has over 90 families in DuPage, Kane, and Will counties who are on the waitlist for our parent mentorship and education services. With your help, we can reach all of those who don't have anyone to turn to and are desperately seeking our help.

Strengthening Families
Safe, stable, and nurturing environments play a significant role in healthy child development. Through Project HELP's parent mentoring and education services, families who experience adversities, high levels of stress, trauma, and crisis receive the hope, support, and resources they need to have a brighter future. We help develop protective factors that lead to healthier family relationships, self-sufficiency, increased well-being, and safety of children.
 
 
Program and Workshops: COVID-19 support Project HELP provided in addition to the Parent Mentor
 
  • Wellness calls to 300 families from our waitlist and recent workshop participants to support them and connect them to resources.
  • Supported 24 families in the Bensenville School District with weekly check-ins with parents and their children as an outlet to talk about how they are managing through this difficult time and help them with their specific needs.
  • Created a COVID-19 essential resource guide for families that we provided along with YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s resource hub on its virtual community platform called MPWR.
  • Provide a variety of donations: two computers, food, diapers, clothes, cleaning supplies, and toys.
  • With funding secured by the YWCA including the DuPage Foundation, we were able to provide over $27,500 in cash assistance to families in our program and on our waitlist.
    Your support allows us to receive heartwarming messages like this one from one of our program participants,
    "Words cannot express my overflowing tears of joy, gratefulness, thankfulness I feel for the kindness that this organization has provided myself and my family. We are so thankful to those that have provided such blessings of food and support during this pandemic."