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: https://hoyleton.org/ways-to-donate/