Home + Aid rooted at home, devoted to others
Heather Hester, a member of the Hinsdale Auxiliary of Children's Home + Aid, helps children make a butterfly craft at the Mareletta Darnall Child + Family Center. | Ruthie Hauge~Sun-Times Media
Children’s Home + Aid
Founded in 1883
$52 million budget
70 social service programs in 40 Illinois counties
700 licensed foster families
80 percent of abused children face mental health
challenges by age 21
99 percent of home- less youth who receive help are back safe in their homes
80 children adopted into homes
1,850 fragile children counseled
1,000 children kept safe in foster homes
22,750 parents and children access child care and education
It’s not out of the ordinary for women to shop for laundry detergent, shaving cream and baby powder, unless they’re doing it to stock their neighbors’ shelves.
The Hinsdale Auxiliary of Children’s Home + Aid is helping create a pantry of free home supplies and toiletries at the Marletta Darnall Child + Family Center in Schaumburg for low-income, high-risk families living in Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and the surrounding areas.
In March the all-volunteer group of women collected and personally delivered supplies to stock the pantry and gave a $500 check to cover item costs in the coming months.
“I have a heart for families with kids and adolescents,” said Alyssa Guido, board chairwoman of the auxiliary. Guido, a mother of three, joined the Hinsdale Auxiliary 10 years ago to give other parents the opportunity to achieve healthy family structures and self-sufficiency.
“It’s hard enough to be a parent when you have most of the resources (you need) or access to good education,” she said. “What if I had roadblocks? We’re giving parents the resources to do the best job they can.”
Formed nearly 60 years ago, the Hinsdale Auxiliary is an independent fundraising arm of Children’s Home + Aid, a statewide social services agency focused on giving children help, hope and opportunity.
The agency, founded in 1883, now boasts a network of 700 licensed foster families and more than 20 locations in the Chicago, Rockford, Bloomington-Normal and metropolitan areas in eastern Illinois.
Last year Children’s Home + Aid’s services helped improve the lives of 42,000 babies, youth and families.
Closer to home
The Hinsdale Auxiliary supports the agency’s programs for early childhood care and education, teen mom counseling, physical and mental health services, after-school activities and therapy for children with a history of violence.
Most of the auxiliary’s 30 members are from Hinsdale. Over the years the group has grown to include women from Burr Ridge, Western Springs and La Grange.
These suburban residents’ commitment to rectifying problems typically associated with inner-city neighborhoods is indispensable as issues of poverty creep closer to home.
Guido said the economic shakeup of recent years created an urgent need for increased family services in Schaumburg and its surrounding areas.
Auxiliary members responded by raising funds to support Children’s Home + Aid.
That objective, Guido said, cannot be understated.
“At the end of the day, if the agency can’t pay the people who are on staff to do this work, it makes no difference,” she said. “So we pour all our energies into raising the money.”
The auxiliary’s signature event is its springtime Derby Day, a post-Run for the Roses party filled with entertainment, drinks and, of course, lavishly large hats.
There’s also a “putt-and-puff” for gents, who get three swings of the club and a complimentary cigar.
Guido expects a crowd of more than 200 at the May 5 Derby Day at the Butterfield Country Club in Oak Brook to help the auxiliary meet its $60,000 fundraising goal.
Assisting vulnerable families and children overcome life obstacles isn’t just the work of women.
The Hinsdale Auxiliary has a men’s chapter made up of a dozen dads, husbands and do-gooders who make an impact in their own way.
Prior to the economic downturn, members raised money primarily by asking their employers to give matching gifts, said Chapter President Scott Gillman. Many companies have since tightened their belts, so the group changed tactics and opted to host a fundraiser of its own.
Gillman, a partner with Chicago firm Condon & Cook, joined the men’s chapter six years ago at the prompting of his wife, Lee, who is a longtime auxiliary member and chair of this year’s Derby Day.
He organizes the chapter’s annual Texas Hold’em Poker Night, which brings around 50 guys to a card table to compete for gift certificate prizes and bragging rights. The chapter hosted the tournament for its fifth consecutive year on March 16 at Salt Creek Club.
Annually the event raises anywhere from $5,000 to $7,500, Gillman said, all of which helps give children in unfortunate family settings a voice.
“It always comes down to the people,” he said.
For more information about the Children’s Home + Aid, visit www.childrenshomeandaid.org.
For auxiliary membership information, contact Eydie Jarosz at email@example.com.