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.
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
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