A Message from Chris L. Cox

At this point, there is not much more that can be said about 2020, other than it will soon be over. We, as an organization, a community and a nation, have been challenged by political divisions, societal divisions and a global pandemic that have made us change the way we approach both our lives, our work, and our everyday.

Many organizations who serve in their communities feel these challenges have held them back from achieving their mission. I feel the opposite. I feel that what has happened this year has strengthened us as an organization, strengthened our programs and services and strengthened our resolve to help the growing needs in southern Illinois.

Be brave and think differently

When the pandemic first hit earlier this year, I asked our staff to be brave and find new ways to meet the needs of our communities. To do so, we needed to shift priorities to ensure the safety and well-being of families and children we serve as well as our staff and their families. We knew that now was not the time to close our doors to those who needed us most, but instead find a safe and new ways to engage and help them.

Hoyleton has developed a comprehensive three-year strategic road-map. This plan is very broad and a bit overwhelming when we look at the work on the hard issues we need to focus on and the key issues that sit in front of our daily work today. We had to relook at some of our long-term planning and accelerate the execution to meet today’s demands. We knew as a leadership team that we needed to break it down into quarterly plans and focus on the essentials.

I told our team, we have to think differently about how we put the building blocks together when we have a limited amount of blocks to work with. Doing this helped provide focus and reduced anxiety in our system.

Investing in areas of immediate need

Investments in technology were imperative.  We needed to ensure we could provide our counseling and services virtually if needed. We also took a close examination of our personnel policies to ensure staff members had the flexibility to meet their own personal needs as well as the needs of our clients. And in 2019, we began the journey to address societal issues when it comes to race and inequality, a journey that sped up as we watched racial injustice continue to play out across our nation. This included the hiring of our first Chief Diversity Officer.

We have learned a lot this year. And as a leader, I have learned even more. Agility and flexibility are paramount in succeeding as an organization. Times like these are not for the timid. These are times that you must be bold and try innovative approaches to solve problems. If you fail, you pick yourself up, take notes of the changes needed and continue to move forward.

Support to move us forward

As we close out 2020 and look forward into the new year, our priorities remain focused. We continue to focus on the communities we serve and expand and improve on our programs to best meet the needs of families and children. Much of this focus will be in behavioral health services, a growing concern across communities in today’s unsettling environment. And in January, we will be opening our first therapeutic foster care home in Belleville, IL (read more about that here).

Another key area of focus will be in supporting our tremendously caring staff as they provide these valuable services. We take great pride in our strong culture that is centered around our mission and faith. We are united in purpose and know we are only as good as the people who are passionate about what they do each and every day.

Beyond our outstanding staff and leadership team, the work ahead cannot be done without the tremendous support of our donors. This past year, they have supported us like never before, they know that their grants and donations go directly to those who need it most, our communities. They have understood the urgency as the needs in our communities have grown, and they have faith that we use the funds as they are intended. For us to continue, it will take this kind of support moving forward that will allow us to further make a difference and impact in our communities in the future.

This year has been a time for us to embrace change, not hide from it. We know we are needed now more than ever. And we are not going to stop the support we can provide.

We ask that you stand with us. Together, we can make real positive change in our communities and achieve our mission to enable all people.


Chris L. Cox
President and CEO
Hoyleton Youth and Family Services

If you are interested in helping further Hoyleton’s mission, please visit: https://hoyleton.org/ways-to-donate/

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