AEC Cares Project Chicago

Event Photography by LeVern Danley

Our Learning and Wellness Center is becoming even more beautiful thanks to the more than 150 design and construction professionals and volunteers who donated their time and hard work on June 25 for “project Chicago,” a one-day “blitz build” at the Center.

Volunteers painted walls, installed cabinets, laid flooring, inserted tiles and more.

View the AEC Cares Project Chicago photo gallery

Client families from throughout Chicago’s New City, Englewood and West Englewood communities will benefit from the many Center improvements.

The event was made possible by AEC Cares, a non-profit corporation supported by Reed Construction Data, with the American Institute of Architects and Hanley Wood, generous sponsors, donors and volunteers.

Thanks again to AEC Cares and all the volunteers who made project Chicago possible!

Young Fathers Initiative Supports Young Men’s Roles as Fathers


For young fathers who are unemployed, undereducated or have been incarcerated, getting their lives back on track can be extremely challenging. The Young Fathers Initiative is designed to give these dads the tools they need to become financially self-sufficient and raise healthy children. The program helps them:

  • Become better dads by learning new fathering skills
  • Gain financial literacy
  • Prepare for and find jobs
  • Get access to legal assistance, health care and counseling
  • Connect with a support network for young dads

Establishing a solid financial base is important to strengthening a father’s bonds with his children. According to the 2008 ChildTrend report by the Department of Health and Human Services, fathers who are employed may be more involved with their children because having a regular, reliable income helps them fulfill the role of provider.

InvestinDadsLast year, 98% of fathers in the Young Fathers Initiative improved their financial position by either increasing their net income/financial worth or showing an improved credit score. And, 70% increased their resources—monetary and other—to provide for their children.

With the parenting education, job training and placement, and financial education services offered through the Young Fathers Initiative, young dads gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to make a difference in the lives of their children. For more information about the Young Fathers Initiative, contact Nathan Wright, Case Manager, at

Click here to hear Bryant’s story on becoming a father and working with the Young Fathers program.

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Art Van Million Dollar Charity Challenge Competition Kicks Off!

Metropolitan Family Services DuPage has been chosen to participate in the Art Van Million Dollar Charity Challenge! The Art Van Million Dollar Charity Challenge is a fundraising competition where organizations supporting children, healthcare and human services compete to raise the most money with the top teams winning cash prizes from Art Van Furniture. Art Van Furniture, the Midwest’s #1 furniture retailer who is expanding into DuPage County, is donating more than $375,000 to not for profit organizations like ours that are focused on impacting children and families, human services and healthcare.  
Metropolitan is competing for one of the top 10 prizes that can earn between $7,500 to $75,000 for our Head Start Program. Metropolitan is guaranteed to win some amount and anything that is donated to Metropolitan is ours to keep. The Challenge started on Monday, May 19th at 12 Noon and runs through Monday, June 23rd. 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. 

Click here to donate & help us raise money for the challenge or view other ways you can help here

Cubs Care Batting a Million

It was a beautiful day at Wrigley Field for the annual Cubs Care Grant Luncheon May 6. Metropolitan Family Services is grateful to once again be included among about 40 nonprofits awarded grants from Cubs Care, a fund of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and Cubs Charities. Together, the grants totaled more than $1.1 million. This is the 4th consecutive year Metropolitan has received a Cubs Care grant.

Cubs Care donated $15,000 in support of our Community Schools program. Community Schools promote public schools as safe, violent-free hubs for the whole community. It’s where afterschool programs offer students homework help, life skills education, involvement in civic projects, and exposure to culture and the arts. Programs for parents and local residents open the experience up to the entire community.

As one of the first Community School providers in Chicago, Metropolitan Family Services knows how vital Community Schools programming is to youth and families in low-income neighborhoods. We currently serve 2,950 students from 27 elementary and five high schools.

We appreciate the continued, generous support of Cubs Care and value their passionate commitment to bettering communities throughout the Chicago area.


Pictured: Laura Ricketts, Co-owner, Chicago Cubs; Jed Hoyer, General Manager, Chicago Cubs; Justin Grimm, Pitcher, Chicago Cubs; Ric Estrada, President & CEO, Metropolitan Family Services; and Clark

Making A Difference by Volunteering One Lunch Hour, Once a Week


Just One Lunch Hour a Week Can Make a Difference
Spotlight on MetroMentors’ Volunteer John Perry

When John Perry originally set out to volunteer with the MetroMentors youth mentoring program, he thought he could help make a difference by tutoring kids. The impact John has had over his five years in the program has gone far beyond homework help. “You can see it in the eyes of a child, when he comes in with a big smile, has social skills and is doing well in school.”

MetroMentors offers professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships between caring adults and elementary or middle school children. The program offers positive adult role models to improve a child’s self-esteem, social skills, academic achievement and positive life choices.

According to John, a retired village administrator and father of two, now-grown sons, “MetroMentors offers kids the opportunity to see themselves and their future in a positive way. During my career in public service (and as a parent), I was regularly reminded of the importance of youth having opportunities to grow and develop into contributing community members. “

John spends one hour a week at Edgewood Elementary School in Woodridge with his mentee who just turned 12. The child’s mother works hard and felt her son could benefit from the extra support of a male mentor in his life. Each week, John and his mentee get together at the school to eat lunch, play games, work on homework, or just talk. “We talk about whatever,” John said.

He and his mentee have been matched for three years. “The experience has been rewarding for me,” said John. “I look forward to the time that I spend each week with my mentee. The experience has really driven home the importance of having a relationship in one’s life that is steady and caring.”

John’s contact with Metropolitan Family Services dates back to the 70s, when he was Village Administrator of Park Forest and Metropolitan provided human services there. Then, in the early 90s as Village Administrator of Woodridge, John reconnected with Metropolitan DuPage and helped start the Community Resource Center in Woodridge to provide after school activities for children.

John has been a mentor to four teens since he began volunteering with the program five years ago. Because there always is a need for more mentors—especially male mentors—at times John has had more than one mentee. He encourages other adults to get involved in MetroMentors: “If every adult could help one child, we could make a difference for children growing up today.”

Click here to volunteer with MetroMentors.

Didn’t Enroll?

Did you miss the deadline for health coverage? There are options for you, depending on your eligibility:

  • Low Income persons can enroll anytime under the expanded Illinois Medicaid Program. (Less than $1348 per month for an individual, more for multiple person households)
  • Private insurance will be available for all to purchase at the next open enrollment period which is November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015.
  • Experiencing a life change qualify for a special enrollment period. Marriage, divorce, losing a job, moving to a new area, having a child or losing other health coverage are life changes that qualify you to enroll within a 60 day period from the time of this life change.

Metropolitan Family Services Calumet staff if here to help! Stop by the office at 235 East 103rd Street, Chicago, IL 60628 for assistance on the following dates through June 30, 2014:

  • Tuesdays: 9:00 AM – Noon
  • Wednesdays: 2:00 PM – 8:00PM

You can also call 773-371-3642 or email for assistance or questions.



Need to Finish Enrolling?

You started the process, but didn’t complete enrollment – you still have time to enroll! Now until April 15th, uninsured Illinois residents who tried to apply for coverage,  but were unable to complete it for reasons beyond their control can complete the enrollment process. Whether you ran into issues applying online, on the phone, or with in-person assistance during the Marketplace Open Enrollment period that prevented you from meeting the March 31st enrollment deadline, you have until April 15th to enroll for health coverage. Make finishing enrollment a priority and complete the process as soon as possible.

All Get Covered Illinois resources available before March 31st are still
available – online, by telephone and in-person to help uninsured residents get covered. Metropolitan Family Services Calumet staff is here to help! Staff will be available:

  • Monday, April 14th: 9:00AM – 5:00PMApril15
  • Tuesday, April 15th: 9:00AM – 8:00PM

Metropolitan Family Services Calumet
235 East 103rd Street, Chicago, IL 60628

Call 773-371-3642 or email for assistance or questions.

Not sure if this applies to you? Residents can visit the website to see if they qualify for the extra time to complete their applications.

Valuable Lessons Shared in Early Education

In celebration of Week of the Young Child, we wanted to take the opportunity to also celebrate our early education center staff who make a difference in the lives of so many young children. Metropolitan’s early childhood education centers serve children of families meeting federal poverty guidelines. These children are reported to be within 92% to 99% of the national normative data for literacy, social/emotional, mathematics and cognitive development. As passionate advocates for early education, staff from our centers told us the valuable lessons they have shared with children as they learn and grow.

Staff were asked, “What is the most valuable lesson you’ve shared with a child?” 

“The most valuable lesson I’ve shared with a child is how to believe in themselves.  I have found that self-confidence will greatly influence one’s academic success, so having it will allow children to open up in class.  As educators, we must strive to make our classrooms a welcoming environment with ample encouragement to help them on their path.”
Adriana Kinsler, Pre-School Teacher | North Children’s Center      

“The most important lesson I can share with a child is that all children are capable and beautiful.”
Pamela Gabb, Infant/Toddler Teacher | Learning & Wellness Center     

“I believe the most valuable lesson one can share with a child is to do your best.  It’s all that you can do.  Do it because you can, not because someone is watching.”
Lanika Bates, Pre-School Teacher | Learning & Wellness Center

”I think that one major valuable lesson that I have shared is how to make sense of the world around them. There are so many questions to be answered, and I try very hard to find new ways for children to individually find answers to their questions through exploration. Through exploring the surroundings that are interactive to one’s own being on earth. So I try to guide a child’s life’s long learning process  through effective teaching that’s interesting, motivating and meaningful. There’s another lesson that I have shared and that is learning can be hard, learning new things can be hard to understand at first but if you let someone help you, guide you, learning becomes fun and enjoyable.”
Linda Schmidt, Pre-School Teacher | Midway Children’s Center

Did you benefit from early childhood education? What did you learn? Whether you were a child, parent or mentor, share your insights on the importance of educating children with us in the comments below.

DuPage Associate Board Meets

Members of the Metropolitan Family Services DuPage Associate Board met this morning at a breakfast hosted by the Board Development Committee. Attendees heard the latest updates on the programs and services offered at the DuPage Center.

Metropolitan Men 1

Highlights of the morning included a special presentation on the new BreakThrough Care Center Partnership with DuPage Medical Group, including an agency update and development report.

Image (l to r): Bob Hutchinson; John Stitzell, Chuck McKenna, Patrick Whiteside, Dan Schuchardt, Howard Goldstein, Matthew Allgood, Sandy Allison and Paul Pyrcik, Jr. 

Week of the Young Child


Metropolitan Family Services Children’s Centers are busying celebrating Week of the Young Child, April 6th-12th.

The Week of the Young Child™ is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This special week brings public attention to the needs of young children and their families and the importance of early childhood programs and services.

“Today, we know more than ever before that children in quality early learning programs do better in school, get into less trouble as adolescents, and even earn more money as adults,” said Jennifer Alexander, Program Director. “The Week of the Young Child is a time to recognize that creating learning opportunities for the youngest in our society is a responsibility we all share, just as all of society reaps the resulting rewards.”

At Metropolitan Family Services, we empower children to learn. Our programs promote academic achievement and social and emotional development among children. Our three early childhood education centers, which serve children of families meeting federal poverty guidelines, report they are within 92% to 99% of the national normative data for literacy, social/emotional, mathematics and cognitive development.