I Am: A Care Moment Between a Residential Youth and Staff
At the ground-breaking event, Diana recited a poem that earned a standing ovation from the crowd titled 'I Am'. We are so proud of her for getting in front of the crowd and showing how amazing, genuine, and bright she is. Residential Therapist Rebecca Rudolph and Program Manager Deanna Howard each worked with Diana, our youth in care who was selected to speak at our groundbreaking ceremony.
Diana is a 14-year-old foster youth who has experienced trauma and is also intellectually and developmentally delayed. Since arriving in January, she has made significant progress. “I've learned to control my anger and use my words to communicate better,” Diana said. She likes the staff and admits they've helped her a lot. She helps her peers too. “They know they can come to me for help,” Diana added.
Diana selected Deanna to sit with her at the ceremony. Deanna indicated that she has a strong rapport with Diana as a result of their many talks in the evening (relationship based). Deanna said she knew Diana was getting nervous on the morning of the event so she continued to encourage her by telling her how great she was going to do (competence centered). Deanna shared that Diana thanked her for allowing her to be part of the ceremony to which Deanna replied, “you got this. You are important and loved. If you get scared up there just look at me,” (Developmentally focused).
Rebecca reinforced these same care principles saying that she practiced the poem with Diana and said she was comfortable working with her because of their good relationship. Rebecca said she read the poem to her a couple times first so Diana could hear the tone and pauses in the poem and then she listened while Diana practiced reading it. Rebecca says she can tell Diana is starting to see that she is loved and cared for by her peers and staff at Hoyleton and knows that is great progress. Both Deanna and Rebecca are so proud of what Diana has accomplished.
Mobile Farmer's Market Helping the Hispanic Community
With the help of Beet Box volunteers, Puentes de Esperanza: Bridges of Hope is providing healthy options, social opportunity, and something the community can look forward to. Puentes uses the ecologically-oriented CARE principle by meeting our Hispanic community members where they are physically and situationally.
Since the start of last summer, Puentes de Esperanza has partnered with the Land of Goshen Community Market located in Edwardsville, IL. Through this partnership, the community served by Puentes can receive fresh produce from local farmers at a low cost. The volunteers of the Goshen Community Market drive to Fairmont City the “Beet Box.” This food truck attracts the attention of the community, and the word is spread on produce being sold. The members of the community can walk down the street from their homes to choose their produce. Clients can choose from a variety of vegetables, fruits, and nonperishable items to take home for 25 cents. Everyone in the community is welcome to choose their own produce.
Famer’s markets have increasingly become a staple in most towns, and they continue to expand as years go by. With the use of the Beet Box, the community of Fairmont City can have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, without having to travel far. In Fairmont City there are not many grocery stores that can provide fresh produce. This results in members of the community turning to unhealthy options of food. Within the Hispanic culture, many individuals from their country of origin are used to choosing their own produce and knowing how fresh it is. In most Hispanic countries the use of mercados is an essential part of living. Mercado in English means market. Mercados are not just a place where people buy and sell produce, but they also provide a place where social events occur. They bring joy and liveliness to a community and create a sense of belonging.
Farmworkers In the United States contribute to the production and distribution of crops. They play a key part in the nation’s economy. Migrant farmworkers have helped feed America and have faced obstacles throughout the years. At times, when people grocery shop, they seldom forget the backstory behind the farmworkers who work long hours to provide us with produce. Within the Puentes family there are many migrant farmworkers who work long hours in the fields to provide for their families. The clients even think of Puentes and if produce is in abundance, they bring them some as well. Team members have been happy going home with fresh corn to enjoy with their own families. Puentes de Esperanza is thankful for the clients they serve and continues to support them and provide resources to better suit their family needs.
With the help of Beet Box, they proudly can continue to provide produce and something to look forward to for the community. They also take into consideration the opinions of the clients and look for more produce available that they may prefer. Mothers of the families are thankful that they do not have to leave their homes to buy produce but rather can get it at a low cost right outside their doors. Puentes de Esperanza will hope to continue to continue this partnership for years to come and continue to expand their resources.
Learn more about our Hispanic community support here: https://hoyleton.org/programs/hispanic-community-support/
Hagar House: A New Beginning
The Hoyleton Transitional Living Program for Pregnant and Parenting youth has been converted into a Transitional Living Program (TLP) for developmentally delayed females aged 17.5 to 21. The living arrangements for the clients in this program have also changed. Our clients now live in a duplex in a residential neighborhood with 3 young females living on each side. This home provides a much more comfortable living environment which aids in our client’s healing and growth.
The small number of clients in the home allows our staff to build strong relationships with each youth and creates opportunities to be more developmentally focused. While living in the TLP our youth learn how to cook, clean, manage ﬁnances, practice personal hygiene, self-care, social skills, and more. When youth leave the TLP they should possess the life skills they need to live in a CILA (Com-munity Integrated Living Arrangement), group home, or in their own place based on their level of independence.
The transition from the previous TLP facility to the new home-like setting hasn’t just been beneﬁcial for the youth, our staff appreciate it too. The Hagar House staff say they now feel more relaxed while at work and ﬁnd themselves having more fun and engaging in more positive interactions with the youth which leads to stronger connections and better outcomes. Hagar House Program Manager Pandora Harris said, “there have been a few bumps here and there, but everyone is moving towards their goals and we’re looking forward to experiencing that success.”
Pandora has been the program manager at Hagar House since September 2022. She has been very successful at building special relationships with each of the young women in her program. Pandora embraced the CARE model since the day it was introduced at Hoyleton and utilizes the care principles on a daily basis. Pandora’s leadership at Hagar House has also beneﬁted many of her staff who have learned the importance of the CARE principles as well as the ability to stay calm in tense situations from watching Pandora’s actions.
Pandora understands the importance of being trauma informed and approaches client and staff challenges with tender words of understanding and a gentle touch to acknowledge them and let them know she is there to help and support them. She has earned the respect of each of the young women living at Hagar House and they all affectionately refer to her as “Mama.” Pandora works hard every day at instilling conﬁdence and self-worth in the young women in her care at Hagar House and she makes sure she validates their feelings when they share stories about their lives. Pandora spends a lot of her time giving guidance to the youth at Hagar House about ﬁnances, the importance of school, friendships and relationships because most of these young women never had a parent or role model around to discuss these topics with them. Hagar House now looks like a family home on the outside and in many ways feels like one on the inside too.
HYFS Career Assistance Scholarship
Hoyleton strives to build stronger communities by providing support and service to youth and families in the southern Illinois region. In an effort to help individuals reach their full potential, Hoyleton Youth & Family Services is proud to offer the Career Assistance Scholarship, an opportunity for any recipient of Hoyleton Youth and Family Services and Puentes de Esperanza to benefit. We will start accepting applications beginning April 1, 2024.
To qualify, the applicant must be a recipient of services provided by Hoyleton, currently or in the past. This includes the Residential program, Counseling, Foster Care, Therapeutic services, Puentes de Esperanza, Prevention, and community programs.
Closing date for scholarship applications is August 1, 2024.
The Career Assistance Scholarship supports career goals and may be used for:
- Tuition assistance and fees required for the enrollment for attendance of the student at a qualifying institution (General Education Diploma, training school, trade, career based school, vocational school or another institution of the same type).
- Fees, books, supplies and equipment required for courses of instruction
- Room, Board and transportation.
Applicants must provide the following:
- Completed application form
- A statement of less than 100 words of how the career assistance scholarship will help you to achieve your career goal.
- One letter of recommendation from a professional educator, counselor, or clergy
From LifeSet to Police Officer: Fryday Catch-up
If you were part of Hoyleton in 2020 you may have met or heard a story or two about former client Fryday Nelson. This young man, and his son Zai'den, stole the hearts of many when they were special guests at our Hoyleton Honors banquet back in February of 2020.
After completing the ILO program, Fryday got a job in the trucking business. The trucking job helped him make money to secure housing and pay his bills but Fryday did not like the long days on the road and he knew he had a calling to do something else, so in late 2021 Fryday took a leap of faith and applied to the St. Louis Police Academy.
Fryday shared his story of being removed from his home and placed in foster care right before he started kindergarten. He spent his childhood moving in and out of different family members' homes as well as a few foster homes. Fryday shared that even when times were difficult he had the ability to rely on himself and his faith in the Lord to keep him going. When Fryday reached adulthood he became a client of Hoyleton's in our ILO program. It was there, with the support and guidance of his caseworker, Nikki Klienik, that he gained the knowledge and skills he needed to support himself and his young son Zai'den. Fryday and Nikki worked together to establish a plan with priorities and attainable goals. "My caseworker Nikki made me feel like the sky was the limit for me! She was so supportive and always did what she said she was going to do which helped me stay on the right path," Fryday said.
Nikki remembers meeting Fryday for the first time because she said there was an instant connection. “My first visit with Fryday happened because I was covering for another caseworker who was on vacation, but after that first meeting I knew I wanted to have Fryday on my caseload,” Nikki said. “We were able to talk so easily about everything he was going through at the time and I could see the potential in him and knew I could help,” Nikki added.
"The physical training was grueling and the written exam was the longest test I had ever taken but I passed them both," Fryday said with a big smile! In September of 2022, with his case worker Nikki in the crowd, Fryday graduated from the St Louis Police Academy and is now a night patrolman in the city of St. Louis. He loves his job but already has a new goal of becoming an Illinois State Police officer! When he encounters a troubled youth out on the street he makes sure they know they have choices and he lets them know there are places to go where people will help them get their life straightened out. He says he shares with everyone what Hoyleton did for him.
Fryday says he is thankful and feels very blessed to be where his in in life. He is appreciative of the support he received at Hoyleton, especially from his caseworker Nikki, and believes that support helped him get to where he is today.
Fryday's son Zai'den is a smart, happy eight year old boy and Fryday is engaged to a lady who just graduated from nursing school so the future is look very bright. "My faith in God, belief in myself and Hoyleton's support really made a difference in my life!"
The volunteer commitment looks different for everyone. Some people give their time, some people give monetary or planned gifts. Some people have been volunteering for years across different programs and others come for specific programs. Whether it’s been passed down through family generations or becoming a new tradition, the hope and sense of community our volunteers provide youth is irreplaceable.
“Just knowing that this is directly helping my community, seeing the results in my community, make volunteering worth it. Helping people I hadn’t known were struggling and making the neighborhood better,” expressed one frequent volunteer.
Hoyleton takes a holistic approach to meeting the physical, mental, and emotional needs of youth and families, which provides numerous opportunities for volunteers to lend a helping hand. Below is a selection of ways to get started.
Staying organized is a priority for keeping an office running smoothly. Volunteers assisting with filing, phone calls, bilingual assistance, and general office duties help our staff work efficiently and effectively.
Hike & Bike and Trivia Nights
Churches and community organizations across Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, and Washington counties hold events throughout the year and give the proceeds to Hoyleton. The annual Hike & Bike is a 5K, 10K, and half marathon that donates earnings to fund specialized programs for our youth. Trivia Nights are an option that let groups have fun while volunteering and meeting new new people. Various events are shared on social media and our events page.
Back to School
Each year, kids pick up their new backpacks stuffed with pencils, notebooks, markers, and more just in time for the new school year. Our volunteers help us ensure that every child has the supplies they need to be successful in school by donating supplies, stuffing backpacks, and helping with the picnic for kids and parents.
Hope for the Holidays
For most, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but for some of the youth and families we serve, the season can be difficult. HYFS makes it our goal that every child in our care has a gift to open during the holidays. Our annual Hope for the Holidays drive urges our donors and volunteers to get involved by donating, shopping from the wish list, and wrapping presents. Join us in helping those we serve.
It Takes a Village
Over 127 years, our team members, programs, and locations have changed, but our mission has stayed the same: to help children and families build brighter futures so our communities can improve and become stronger for everyone. We cannot achieve this mission without the compassionate efforts of all our volunteers and donors. If you are searching for a way to get involved, check out our volunteer page or contact
Puentes de Esperanza Continues to Make a Difference
Over the past few months, members of the Puentes team have been very busy in the community, assisting clients with language translation as well as providing food, PPE equipment, clothing and other basic needs. A special thank you to our grantors, Cardinal Care and Old Newsboy Day, who provided funding for the items we distributed.
This summer, Puentes partnered with Safari Dental and the Lion's club to offer dental and vision screenings at no-cost, or minimal cost, to their clients. Through help from the community in Percy, Illinois, Puentes was able to connect clients with businesses and community organizations to create opportunities to better serve Spanish-speaking residents.
Most recently, Puentes celebrated a Reading Book Distribution at the Fairmont City Library for families who participated in the "Aprendizaje en Familia: Learning as a Family" program. During the event, Chromebooks were given away to two lucky families. As part of the program, several families were received passes to visit the St. Louis Science Center and Union Station Aquarium, this created fun family outings for many clients who rarely get the opportunity to do so.
Puentes de Esperanza helps Spanish-speaking residents in Southern Illinois find community resources that help them establish citizenship, build a family, find employment and more. To learn more about how you can help support this mission of Hoyleton and become a volunteer, please contact Alice Drobisch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-688-7094.
Jared Talks About How Hoyleton Helped Him And His Family
A story of a families’ love and commitment started more than 20 years ago when a young couple brought their adopted child home from Korea at six months old. Sadly, as the story continues there are many chapters of fear, frustration and heartache as their little developmentally delayed Korean boy battled anger and aggression issues. The committed parents tried everything but couldn’t raise their child on their own, they knew they needed help. After many years and attempts at treatment and therapy they found their way to Hoyleton and in January of 2019 they placed their teenaged boy into our residential treatment program. The journey of love and commitment continued, this time from Hoyleton staff, and on June 9, 2022 Jared walked out of Hoyleton, with his mother and the confidence and life skills needed to live a new much more stable life.
Jared’s parents were so thankful for the love and support the Hoyleton staff provided to their troubled son that they came back to residential campus and threw a party for the staff to say thank you for everything they did for their son. Jared’s mother Ann said the change is Jared is “unbelievable” she believes it would not have been possible without Hoyleton’s programs, therapy and supportive environment.
One of the highlights of the party that day was both staff and clients getting to watch Jared proudly drive his mother’s vehicle around the block! This accomplishment showed Jared’s focus and dedication to learning new skills coupled with the encouragement and perseverance given to him by his parents, teachers and Hoyleton staff. It was a proud moment for so many who played a part in helping Jared grow.
Life with Jared was not easy before his time at Hoyleton. His mother explained that from about age 5 Jared was angry, aggressive and over-powering. As the years went by Jared’s anger issues escalated and it was more and more difficult for his parents to contain or discipline him for this type of behavior. They became fearful for their safety and his which prompted them to search out resources for support. Jared was in and out of treatment facilities for most of his life without much improvement. At one point when he was 16-years-old he was put into a mental hospital because that seemed to be the only place for him, but then Jared’s family found Hoyleton.
Jared arrived at Hoyleton at the beginning of 2019 and from the start it seemed like a good fit. Anthony “Amp” Smith was one of the first direct care workers he met. Anthony quickly recognized Jared as a guy who liked to work and was motivated to make money. “He really wanted to have his own XBOX and TV, so I helped him find one online and I told him what he needed to do to make enough money to get it and Jared went right to work,” Anthony said. Jared worked around the grounds on the Hoyleton campus, he worked at the Goodwill store in Nashville and also spent time working at his school’s workshop. Jared saved up his wages and got his XBOX and TV but he was still motivated to work and make money so Anthony talked to him about saving half of this paycheck and planning what to buy next with the other half. Jared took to this idea and as a result he is leaving Hoyleton with $1800 in the bank plus a good understanding of budgeting his money and goal setting. “I am so proud of him,” said Anthony. “He really listened to what I said and stayed motivated, he was a great worker too. I’m going to miss him,” Anthony added.
When Jared wasn’t working at one of his jobs he was working on himself and his behavior. “I have learned to make choices that help me,” Jared said. One of his counselors said, “he has worked on how to express excitement in a way that does not intimidate his parents.” Jared is very proud of his progress and often asks his mother if there are other things he needs to work on. Jared says he will stay motivated because he is happy to now be living so close to his parents again so he can see them regularly.
Jared is going to miss all his friends and counselors at Hoyleton but he has a lot to look forward to. He is moving into a group home through CILA and will live just 20 minutes from his parents. His Mom is a nurse and has worked it out so she can be his caregiver. “I will listen to what she says as my Mom and my Nurse,” Jared said.
In one of the workshops at the Bridges school, where he attended while at Hoyleton, Jared learned to cook. His specialties are spaghetti and mac & cheese and he can’t wait to make dinner for his Mom and Dad. Jared says he will stay busy this summer mowing his parents’ yard for them too.
As if the send off from Hoyleton was not enough of a celebration Jared and his parents are going to Chicago on July 16 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Jared arriving in the United States as their son.
Everyone at Hoyleton, and his teacher from the Bridges school, have been amazed at the progress he has made since 2019 and although they will miss having him around they are very excited to hear about Jared’s next chapter in life and wish him the best.
LGBTQ Youth Resource Guide
Gain a better understanding of the lgbtq youth in your care with this compiled list of local resources, including support groups, affirming care centers, and guides for supporting youth to the fullest.
Hoyleton CEO Chris Cox Discusses Self Care on Fox 2 News
Our President and CEO, Chris Cox, joined Fox 2 Now's Studio STL to discuss the importance of self care. You can't pour from an empty cup, and you don't have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Watch below to learn more:
Self Care is the practice of actively nurturing one's happiness and well being, and it's not as hard as you would think. Self care can be as big as tackling your bad habits, or as small as making a cup of tea. Taking a small amount of time for yourself can help find balance in other areas of your life, too. Holistic wellness can be put into 8 dimensions that focus on different aspects of everyday life. By taking care of one dimension, we often see the others improve. Read more in depth about SAMHSA's 8 dimensions of wellness.
- Emotional - Engaging in self care, building satisfying relationships with others, giving yourself grace.
- Spiritual - Defining values, joining a worship group, setting time to reflect.
- Intellectual - Learning something new, being creative, solving puzzles.
- Physical - Taking care of your body with exercise, nutrition, and sleep.
- Environmental - Volunteering in the community, creating a chore schedule, joining a neighborhood watch.
- Financial - Creating a budget, setting reasonable goals, avoiding debt.
- Occupational - Finding work/life balance, supporting coworkers, finding satisfaction in tasks
- Social - Maintaining a social network, finding a community, making connections.