Next Steps

Building a Bridge for Youths to their Forever Homes

For 125 years, Hoyleton Youth & Family Services has taken great pride in supporting foster families throughout southern Illinois to ensure the best temporary care is provided and an optimal permanency plan can be achieved. Even with these outstanding services in place, Hoyleton believed that there were more opportunities to expand on the foster care continuum between traditional residential care and a youth’s forever home.

“We work with youths that have complex health and behavioral issues, and the level of support for them has not always been ideal,” says Brice Bloom-Ellis, Chief Program Officer. “There has always been a need for treatment (or therapeutic) foster care, but those that exist have never quite lived up to their promise. We believe our experience allows us to successfully provide residences that help youth transition in a more normalized environment, attend community schools and prepare them a path to their forever homes,”

Hoyleton’s first therapeutic foster care home

Earlier this year, Hoyleton purchased a house in Belleville, IL, with the goal of rehabbing it to become its first therapeutic foster home. Once the property was purchased, Hoyleton partnered with Neighbors for Renewal, a nonprofit organization that purchases houses in severe disrepair to rehabilitate them into houses available at a significantly reduced price for working families with limited income.

“Neighbors for Renewal, led by Drew Kramer, was great to partner with on this project,” says Brice. “They understand the continuing need to help families in southern Illinois with affordable housing,” says Brice. “And their relationship with other community partners allowed us to make our goal a reality.”

A long-time philanthropist steps in and steps up

One of the community partners Neighbors for Renewal brought to the project was Norm Wilke. Norm is a long-time philanthropist and owner of Wilke Window & Door in Shiloh, IL. “I understand what it means to be poor and not know where your next meal is or if you’d be able to keep a roof over your head,” says Wilke. “It’s because of this that I always felt it was important to give back, especially when it comes to kids.”

Wilke has known Drew Kramer at Neighbors For Renewal for almost 30 years and has always believed in its mission. Over those years, Wilke has continually made donations to help rehab homes throughout the region. “When Drew mentioned the project Hoyleton was doing with their therapeutic foster home, I knew it was something that could help youths, and I told him that I wanted to step forward and help,” says Wilke.

Wilkes Windows & Doors donated money and provided materials at cost to help rehab the residence that will be used for Hoyleton’s therapeutic foster home, located on Vandor Court in Belleville, IL. “It’s because of people like Norm that we are able to fulfill our mission and help youths and families in our communities,” says Brice. “His help really made this financially feasible for us, and we can’t thank him enough for his support.”

The Vandor Court home will open in January with three youths moving there as they begin their transition to their forever homes. Hoyleton’s goal is to further expand this service by adding additional residences in the coming years to provide other youths with similar opportunities in their local communities.

If you are interested in helping further Hoyleton’s mission, please visit:








New Year New Word

As 2019 comes to an end and 2020 quickly approaches, we reflect on the things we have accomplished, the heartaches we have felt, and the memories created. As we start focusing on the new year ahead of us, the excitement of a fresh start or a clean slate provides new opportunities. Most of us love opening a new calendar with its blank pages only waiting for the next events; we'll be preparing and sharing celebrations, and moments in which to pencil. Some individuals spend time agonizing over their New Year’s resolutions of losing those last five pounds or focusing on eating at home more. Some focus on finding new jobs, starting that new house project, or learning a new skill. 

All of these thoughts, plans, and ideas are wonderful; and we always have the best of intentions. Then life settles back into its routine. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and our resolutions quietly slip by the wayside. Before we know it, we have not moved forward as we had hoped. So, let's try something a little different. Let's look at choosing one word for the year. 

Choosing one word allows you to focus on one thing you know you can change. One word can be more impactful, your mantra, or your focus word for the year. This may also mean you can successfully focus on one thing and not fail at the problematic resolutions. Concentrating on one word makes your focus intentional, and it will be a more natural commitment. If you let it, your one word will shape not only your year but will also allow you to develop. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.

Here are a few additional articles that can help you choose your one word for 2020. And we have also provided you a great way to display your word for the whole year; click here to see how.

Here are a few tips for leading you to your word for the year: 

  1. Focus on your goals. Think about what you want to accomplish in 2020 and write down all of the goals that come to mind. Include both long-term and short-term goals. You might have several goals surrounding your personal, professional, or family life. If so, you may want to consider words that relate to the overall theme of your goals.
  2. Look for inspiration. Deciding on a fitting word that encompasses what you want to focus on is harder than it sounds. You may need to sit down and start writing what you are looking to accomplish. Just write. Let the words flow freely. 
  3. Create a vision board. This is an optional step. Although I think it's a great way to visualize what you want in the new year. Tying a visual to our one word engages our senses and positively reinforces our choice.  It sounds cliche or basic, but gathering with other like-minded individuals to bring our goals and dreams to life is empowering.
  4. Narrow it down. Once you have a list of words to choose from, you will need to narrow it down. If you are starting with a bi,g list, look through it and see if there are words that can be easily discarded.
  5. SELECTING YOUR WORD OF THE YEAR FOR 2020. After you have chosen your word for 2020, it's time to put it into practice. Find a way to display your word so you can see it daily.  Write your word in a journal, put it on your bathroom mirror, make an art piece and hang it in your office. Place your word anywhere you want that extra motivation and push to help you embrace that word for the year.

May your one word for 2020 empower you to reach for the stars, seek out new challenges, and step into a season of change. Your one word can lead you down a new and exciting path. If your one word is calling you to volunteer in your community to positively impact the lives of others, we hope you will consider partnering with Hoyleton to build stronger families, one child at a time. Share your One Word with us on Facebook, #HYFSOneWord2020.

Join Us for a Celebration of Hoyleton Heroes on February 22nd!

Please join Hoyleton Youth & Family Services, and other fellow heroes, for a night of friends, food and fun at Hoyleton’s annual A Night for Heroes – our salute to everyone that makes Hoyleton’s work possible.

A cash bar at 6 pm kicks off the evening followed by a wonderful dinner at 7 pm. A Night for Heroes culminates with Awards, the Fund-the-Need auction that provides support to every one of Hoyleton’s nearly 20 programs and services for nearly 3,000 youth and families throughout southern Illinois – and, music and dancing with Butchwax and the Hollywoods!

A Night for Heroes 

This year’s event will be located at the Four Points by Sheraton in Fairview Heights.