April is National Volunteer Month

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We are thankful for all of our outstanding volunteers! Metropolitan Family Services relies on hundreds of dedicated volunteers to help us serve our clients and support our programs. With seven centers throughout the city and suburbs, volunteers help us in many ways, such as serving on our community and governing boards, and donating professional services for special projects.

Looking for an opportunity to get involved? Click here to view our volunteer opportunities.

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The Cat in the Hat Visits DuPage Head Start

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The Cat in the Hat recently paid a visit to our DuPage Head Start students thanks to the volunteers of Pi Beta Phi. As part of their “Day of Service in honor of Dr. Seuss,” sorority volunteers read, enjoyed crafts and donated books for each student to bring home!

“Please pass on our thanks to the wonderful Head Start classroom teachers we met at the Cat in the Hat event. Their warm welcome was so appreciated and felt instantly upon entering the room. The Head Start students in each of the classrooms were respectful and attentive to us. The Head Start teachers have created a safe and fun learning environment. It was a privilege to have been a part of it!” said Pi Beta Phi sorority volunteers.

Thanks for your kindness and volunteerism Pi Beta Phi!! We enjoyed having you at DuPage Head Start!

A Touch of Spring At Last!

This year’s Spring Fever event, held at Northwestern’s Parkes Hall on March 22nd, raised over $15,000 through sponsorships, donations, raffle purchases and more.

Over 70 guests attended the event, hosted by Metropolitan’s Evanston/Skokie Community Board. Village Treasure House in Northbrook was honored at this year’s event for their outstanding contributions benefitting children and youth in north shore communities. Guests enjoyed the musical entertainment provided by Stuart Rosenberg and friends.  Shrieks of delight were heard from winners of the “Chicago-style Raffle” featuring favorite local restaurants, home and garden retailers, hair and nail salons, spas, and theaters. Proceeds from the event will support children at risk of family and community violence, older adults experiencing abuse and youth with mental illness.

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Sandy Van Epps, President of Village Treasure House accepted the award with Board member, Catherine Etsey and Grant Committee Chair, Kathryn Hall.  In accepting the award, Kathryn cited the many youth programs the Treasure House has supported over the years including Project Roots, and group for African American Boys participating in exploring their identities and discussing alternatives to violence, teasing and bullying prevention groups in area schools and groups for girls exploring team dating violence and healthy choices.

Village Treasure House is a unique, not-for-profit consignment shop with over 100 dedicated volunteers. Located in Northbrook on the border of Glenview, they are a furniture consignment and home furnishings consignment warehouse in Chicago’s North Shore area. Proceeds fund programs of 17 local agencies Since 1998, Village Treasure House have given away $1,560,000. They have given over $65,000 to Metropolitan Family Services Evanston/Skokie Valley since 2004 in support of programs for children and youth and their families.

We urge our friends to check out Village Treasure House with their great offerings as well as being a place to “downsize” for a good cause!

Those attending the event enjoyed the casual, party like atmosphere and creative musicianship of Stuart Rosenberg and his friends. Stuart is one of the founders of SPACE a popular performance venue in Evanston. Judith Greifer, chair of the Evanston/Skokie Valley Community board commented, “It’s great to gather so many of our personal friends and friends of Metropolitan together to talk, share our stories of how we’ve helped our neighbors and finally welcome spring!”

Cast Your Vote Today!

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Metropolitan Family Services’ Upward Bound program has been chosen as a finalist for the 4th Annual Ikea Life Improvement Challenge. This program awards $8,000 in IKEA products, services and in-kind donations to the charitable organization with the most votes. Our local Schaumburg Ikea selected us as one of 3 organizations to participate in this year’s challenge! Click here to cast your vote.

Upward Bound students have a college lab that is in need of IKEA design expertise.  IKEA products would also be used for their “Going Away Trunks”  – a collection of items each college-bound student receives to help make their transition easier. Cast your vote today! You can vote once daily from March 17-28th.

Mayors Attends Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended the ribbon cutting for our new Learning and Wellness Center on Friday, April 7th. The center will benefit families in Chicago’s New City, Englewood and Back of the Yards communities with full day early learning and pre-kindergarten. Click here to view the Mayor’s press release. For more photos of this event, visit our Flickr page.

Additional media coverage: WGN9 | DNA Info

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Celebrating & Supporting Veterans

Happy Veteran’s Day to all who have/are serving in the armed forces! We appreciate all you do for our country. Metropolitan’s Veterans Individual and Family Program offers support to the veterans in our community. The group is a joint effort between Olive Harvey College and Metropolitan Family Services to provide a bi-monthly support group for veterans to discuss ways to manage symptoms, stress and challenges related to military service. Run by ToiJuana Murray, LCSW, a 10 year Navy Veteran who served in the Navy and Army Reserves, veterans are offered a safe and supportive environment to connect with other veterans who may be experiencing some of the same challenges.

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“Clinical and support services are needed to promote the recovery and resiliency of veterans who have dedicated their lives in service to our country, and who may be facing significant mental health and emotional challenges as a result of their service. Multiple deployments and prolonged separations from friends and family are more and more commonplace, and these factors put a lot of stress on veterans as they navigate the transition from military life to civilian life. The number of veterans who will require mental health counseling and supportive services continues to grow at a faster rate than the capacity most communities have to address the needs of these veterans. We created this veterans support group to offer support to veterans in the community – meeting the need where the need is at,” said MaLinda Lee, Supervisor of the Veterans Individual and Family Program.

Utilizing a recovery and resiliency model, the support group assists veterans to understand and cope with the unique challenges they faced. The group addresses issues that relate to:

  • Parenting
  • Relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Problems in school
  • Barriers to employment
  • The impact of military service on families and children
  • Stress and other challenges related to military service
  • Readjustment to civilian life
  • Reunion related stress
  • Learning to manage physical disabilities
  • And other changes having major impacts on life.

The Veterans Individual and Family Program offers a sense of community and knowledge that these veterans are not alone in their struggles and Metropolitan is there is help and support them. For more information please contact MaLinda Lee at 773-291-6190 or leem@metrofamily.org

Populus Returns for A Fun Day at Camp!

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Populus Group, a staffing services company located in Lisle, Illinois, paid a return visit to Metropolitan’s camp held at Reinberg school in Chicago. Populus Staff provided five hours of fun, inspirational talks and a delicious pizza lunch for more than 25 campers. Each camper also received a bag of school supplies and the program received two tubs of much needed art supplies. The kids truly had a great time & exclaimed, “We can’t wait until you come back next year!”  Thank you Populus Group!

Midway’s Back To School Event

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On Friday, August 16th, Metropolitan staff & clients gathered to celebrate the Midway center’s 25th Anniversary with their Back To School Event. Over 240 people attended the event which included games, raffles, food and lots of fun! Each student in attendance was given a back to school bag which included a folder, ruled paper, notebook, pencil holder, pencils & pens, ruler, eraser, pencil sharpener, crayons and a water bottle, to assist during this time of back to school preparations.

Metropolitan would like to thank: Greater Southwest Development, First American Bank, Holy Cross hospital, Chicago Family Health Center, Buena Vista Optical, Montclare Dental, Good 360, Chicago Children’s Museum and Walgreens for donating their time and items to complete our back to school bags for the students.

LAS Pro Bono Volunteers Recognized

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On Thursday, August 8th, the law firm of Eimer Stahl and board member, Scott Solberg, hosted the Legal Aid Society’s pro bono reception where LAS recognized volunteers from twelve different pro bono programs.  Christopher Johnson from the Dailey Law Firm, Dan Birk from Eimer Stahl, and Steve Mahieu from Dykema Gossett shared their experiences of their extraordinary pro bono contributions.

For more information on Metropolitan Family Services Legal Aid Society pro bono programs, please contact Grace Newgard, Pro Bono Director at newgardg@metrofamily.org.

Midway Mural Revealed!

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On Thursday, August 8th, after more than 90 hours of work, a team of After School Matters 2013 Summer Interns led by artist Rahmaan Statik unveiled their mural for the exterior of the Midway Head Start facility.  A group gathered to view the piece which is prominently featured on the building facing Kedzie Street. Many stayed to enjoy refreshments and speak with the artists.

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Rahmann began the project by creating a composition with photos compiled by staff. The After School Matters interns, Kaylynn, Mylaun and Omar created the foundation of the mural by redrawing the images with a projector and tracing paper. Students had specific roles in creating the mural which kept a similar style for faces and props within the composition. The students learned about the components of a good painting and how to make different textures and brushstrokes. Through Rahmann’s guidance, they also learned how to mix colors and give the piece character. The end result is a mural that Metropolitan is thankful for and excited about having as a part of the facility.  Rahmann is happy that the outside of the space now reflects the inside, and that those driving by the mural will be able to recognize that the building is a children’s center.

This was the first time artist Rahmaan Statik has worked with Metropolitan Family Services and he has enjoyed the time spent with staff and the students. Rahmann has worked with After School Matters since 2003, first as an artist, and then as a project lead after 2005. With a smaller group of just three students for this project Rahmann was able to have a more intimate experience and able to give them one-on-one attention and really get to know the skills and personalities of Kaylynn, Omar and Mylaun. Rahmaan enjoys working within the community and creating pieces with students. He seeks to keep students safe through creativity and hopes that students will find creativity within themselves.

The team worked for a total of six weeks to complete the mural, meeting four times a week for four hours each day. The students enjoyed working on the piece. Kaylynn, who worked on the drawing and background coloring said, “It was fun and challenging. We learned a lot of different strategies and techniques of painting. I liked the critiques and experimenting while working together on the piece.”

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Mylaun enjoyed the fun, peaceful and comfortable environment. “It was relaxing to paint and make art. Everyone did good – it was a nice experience.”

“I’ve never done something like this before, the whole experience was great! Working with different people, an artist, it gives you a better sense of how to work in a group and is something I can use in school,” stated Omar.

A big thank-you to Rahmann, Kaylynn, Omar, Mylaun and Midway staff for all the time, hard work and talent that was put into the creation of the mural! Click to learn more about Metropolitan Family Services Midway, Artist Rahmann Statik or After School Matters.