It Takes A Village

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.

Clerical/Office Assistance

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 Christy Schult at

Every month is Black history month

A reminder of why Black lives matter

February offers an opportunity to honor, learn and re-learn about the achievements, accomplishments, and contributions of Black Americans.  Daily posts with stories and little- known facts create awareness and better understanding of the importance of a group of people who were omitted from the history of the United States of America. Honoring the contributions of Black inventors, artists, educators, researchers, athletes, writers, entertainers and “changemakers” instills great pride in Black communities while educating those in other communities where such stories were rarely shared. I always think of February as a time for recovering—and re-covering—a history but also as a time to consider applying what is learned this month in ongoing daily actions and interactions.

Yes, February can be a time to learn beyond the shared stories. Black history month can also be a time to prioritize a commitment to do more to value and honor those in Black communities today, people who still struggle with the same systems of racial discrimination, disparities, inequities and social injustice that omitted them from the story told in this country.

“Honoring Black History” can occur every month when it includes valuing Black lives and communicating that worth in everyday actions, large and small. This is the call of the Black Lives Matter movement—a recognition of the value of a human life.  Omission from the narrative of a history of a country sends a powerful message that communicates who matters and who does not.  That narrative shapes the interaction between those who live in that country. Just as February centers the historical contributions of Black Americans—the Black Lives Matter movement centers value, worth and recognition across contemporary interpersonal interactions and public policies. This is an honoring that can occur every month in many ways.

Consider what honoring looks like in children’s books with main characters who are Black and have skin tones and hair textures that look like the ones Black children share and see in their families and communities. It is a message that says to them, “you matter”.  To see someone who “looks like me” on pages and in other forms of media is a powerful message of a child’s value and worth.  There are so many books now that send that message and they are available all year long!

For those who have a hard time understanding the reasons to honor Black lives daily, with more intention, in the Black Lives Matter movement—remember what you have learned in Black History Month. What was not included in history books and stories shared was a result of centuries of Black lives in the U.S being not just omitted but devalued. May Black History Month 2021 be the year to extend the honoring of Black lives by committing to actions—large and small—that center value, worth and humanity throughout the entire year.

Human Trafficking | Know the Risks

There is a pandemic that has plagued our world long before the onset of COVID-19. 

For centuries the human trafficking industry, though only recently referred to as such,  has been claiming the lives of women, children, and men. While 99% of the world’s $150 billion a year exploitation industry are women and girls, men fall victim to “The Life” also. “The Life” is just one of the terms used to refer to an individual in a trafficking situation. As an organization focused on the betterment of people and allowing them to live their life as God intends, we are asking you to help bring an end to this exploitive crime that has become woven into our modern world. In order to halt and end human trafficking, awareness and education must occur first. What IS Human Trafficking? 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, ( Human Trafficking is defined as “...the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” In 2019, the United States identified over 22,000 cases of human trafficking with over 14,000 of those being victims of the sex trade. ( 

Now we know the what and the how many, the bigger questions we should ask ourselves are why and what. Why, or how does a person become trapped in a situation like this? What can we do as individual people do to stop the abuse?  

Trafficking experiences can vary from survivor to survivor so it can be difficult at times to identify a situation. One common tactic used is grooming which entails an abuser building a perceived trust with the individual and manipulating the individual to fulfill the abuser’s own wants, needs, and desires. This process can occur over time as the abuser builds trust. Sometimes this process includes a “recruiter” that prey upon people that typically have a poor social status, low self-esteem, or a destitute economic situation. The recruiter offers something the victim is trying to fill such as an emotional or physical need. Many victims are unaware they are being drawn into "the life” as they begin to trust the individual.”  Once the trafficker has gained the individual’s trust, the trafficker will then start requiring “favors” or some type of repayment. This “repayment” is typically sexual in nature. If the victim refuses to comply, it can lead to physical abuse in which the victim either feels they deserve, or simply can’t escape. Victims can also experience what is commonly known as Stockholm Syndrome in which a captor may feel the abuser or trafficker loves them in spite of their abusive treatment. This is why it is so important to know the signs of trafficking in the sex industry. 

Police and law enforcement professionals have been making huge progress in identifying and breaking sex trafficking operations across the country in more recent years. This is due in part to people identifying signs and choosing to no longer stay silent about what they see. There are actually several signs which should set off warning sirens and be an alarming call to action.  Indicators may include, but are not limited to: 

The above are just a few key indicators someone may be living a dangerous lifestyle or trapped in a situation where they may feel helpless or hopeless. The presence of a single indicator does not confirm trafficking but could be a sign of an individual being at-risk and in need of help. 

Here at Hoyleton, our Prevention team offers safe, reliable, and effective programs that help those in subjugation to the industry. With healthy recovery options, the HALO (Healing and Loving Oneself) program offers one-on-one and community-based care. HALO also offers presentations that can be customized by community to help raise awareness of both sexual and labor exploitation. 

While this is a dismal, dark, and disturbing industry, there is something you can do to help stop the machine, or at the very least, slow it down. Those caught up in this industry need you to speak up. When we open our eyes to the world around us and know what to look for, we start to shed light into the lives of those who are in the darkest places. Unless you are a law enforcement professional or licensed social worker, direct involvement is discouraged, but help for someone in need is just a phone call away. The key component and best course of action is to know the signs, spread the word and educate others about the seriousness of Human Trafficking, and encourage others to do the same. 

If someone you know or love may be at risk, the following resources may help you help them find safety. 


What Are You Doing For Others?

Congresswoman Mary Miller Must Resign

Our CEO, Chris Cox, is a Board member of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth. As a health and human service provider, we see daily the deep-rooted racist inequities that negatively impact our children, families, and communities we are called to serve.  This is the moment in national history when all elected officials must rise above party politics and ask themselves, “What are you doing for others?”

As community leaders serving children, youth, and families, we continue to grapple with the revelations and events over the past week, seeking to discern both our own responses as individuals to the violent attack on our nation’s democracy and our role as leaders in helping young people to understand these events in the hopes that they may never be repeated.

These events are not isolated. Rather, they are the culmination of our nation’s toxic legacy of white supremacy and the deep-rooted racial inequities that we must confront, including a lack of accountability for police brutality and systemic racism embedded in the foundations of our society. The reckoning is long overdue.

And yet even in this context, U.S. Rep. Mary Miller from Illinois’ 15th District chose to quote Adolf Hitler approvingly in her prepared remarks, stating that he was right about youth.

From her reprehensible remarks and her subsequent apology, it is clear that Miller has failed to understand how her citation of Hitler conflicts with the basic values articulated in our Constitution. She is unfit for her role as a representative of more than 700,000 people from all races, ethnicities, and religions, including thousands of children and youth who, while lacking the right to vote, still count on her to be their voice in Congress.

We have a right to expect our elected officials to adhere to a high standard of leadership, and to model for young people the importance of understanding history and representing it accurately. We must be honest about people’s capacity for ugliness and inhumanity. We must also articulate why people such as Hitler — who designed and instigated the genocide of more than six million Jews and others, including people with disabilities — should not be rehabilitated in any way by casual assertions that he was right about anything. As an association that serves as a collective voice for children, youth, and families, we are compelled to speak out against her statement.

If Miller were truly sorry for the harm she has caused, she would participate in a restorative justice process, with sincere efforts to engage the community she has harmed and to understand and repair the damage she has done. Instead, she has lashed out defensively, claiming that people are trying to twist her words.

Her actions and statements make it impossible to trust her judgement or her leadership. Representing people in Congress is an honor and a privilege, not an entitlement. Miller does not deserve to be the voice of anyone. On behalf of the Illinois Collaboration on Youth and the Board of Directors, we call on her to resign her position immediately.

Andrea Durbin
Chief Executive Officer
Illinois Collaboration on Youth

Hoyleton | Why Diversity is So Important

Why Diversity is So Important for Our Team and Clients

The definition of Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, one’s religious or ethical values, national origin, and political beliefs.

Sit and think about that for a minute.

Let me begin by stating that this blog is not a blog to start a debate on any of the topics listed above. However, this is a blog to educate you how Hoyleton has the capability to serve ALL people, no matter the range of human differences because of our own unique differences because of the people we employ. 

As this new week began at Hoyleton, we were lucky to have a new staff orientation. On weeks like these, we get to meet our new family members that will join our specific areas of service within our family and community. Each of them are unique and have different backgrounds, experiences, education, and social understandings. Some of them are starting their first job. Some are beginning a second career in life. And some are just glad that in the age of COVID we are hiring and they can support their families. Our new family may also be single parents with master degrees in social work or a young adult that is starting their first job as a youth counselor at the Hoyleton campus. Some are joining us to see how we operate the CARE model compared to their previous organization. No matter why they have chosen Hoyleton, we are glad they are here. 

Each and every one of them brings a new and unique perspective to the departments that they will serve. They bring a history of personal experiences, cultures, beliefs, and values, which has molded them to be who they are today and how they will serve our clients. 

The uniqueness of each of us at Hoyleton is what makes this serving the community we live in, support, and serve even better. 

Here is what we asked our employees during our annual employee survey and why we know they love and seek to work at Hoyleton.

“What do you like most about working here?” 

The number one answer was the mission and the people we serve.

81% Responded with the Mission and the People we Serve

The mission is what we do and the people are who we are and who we serve. And to have 81 percent of the organization stand behind the mission tells the real story at Hoyleton. This response is very clear because at no time does one area or one department get singled out to carry what the agency does as a whole but the WHOLE agency does it all.

The second highest response to the question was working with their co-workers. This response promotes the family feeling you get when you join the Hoyleton family. While salary, benefits, and even flexibility were choices for the survey, the top two responses support the purpose and the history of CARE, which was created and taught by Cornell University, that we give and that the employees support that as well.

If you are ready to join Hoyleton and start a new career you can join our diverse staff by clicking We know that you will be a great addition to our family and we look forward to you joining us.

Share Our Work with Your Community

We invite you to get involved with Hoyleton Youth and Family Services and support our work to transform lives through our programs and the power of faith.

Hoyleton delivers the services that matter to you, in your community. Here’s why your support matters:

“I am grateful for all the things Hoyleton was able to provide for Logan because when he came home, I got my son back. Not the one who I had to send there in the beginning. I got the son I always knew I had…” -Logan’s Mom

Logan was a memorable client at the Hoyleton campus. Before coming to Hoyleton, Logan was hospitalized 38 times for extreme behaviors and was unable to read. After 8 months of therapy, Logan’s IQ jumped 22 points and was reading at an elementary school level. Recently we received an incredible thank you letter from Logan’s mom. She talked about how difficult, scary and uncertain she felt when Logan was placed at Hoyleton. She praised Hoyleton’s staff for always being available to listen when she voiced her concerns and offered suggestions and advice that eased her mind.

Get Involved

Learn more about volunteering with us here, or give us a call to get involved: 618-688-4727