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

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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.

Midway Mural Comes to Life

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After School Matters Summer 2013 Interns are working hard on the mural for Metropolitan Family Services Head Start facility. Artist Rahmaan Statik instructed the young artists in mural painting techniques to develop the newest addition to our early learning center set for unveil on August 8th!

Celebrating Cathy

A Featured Volunteer with In-Home Senior Respite in DuPage County

Cathy has been a volunteer with Metropolitan’s In-Home Senior Respite since 2008. Cathy is one of our go-to volunteers who has helped many, many families. View our interview with this special volunteer highlighted during Volunteer Week below. Thank you Cathy!!

Poinsettia delivery

How did you begin volunteering with Metropolitan?
A friend, no longer with respite service, had casually asked me if I had ever considered volunteering for In-Home Senior Respite. First she had to explain what it was, “Three hours of relief each week for the care giver of a senior…”. After giving her request some thought, I contacted her and the ball was rolling. My interview was scheduled, vetting completed, began training and then assigned to a family. In-Home Senior Respite has been one of the most rewarding experiences to me, and I am pleased to be of service.

What do you do as an In-Home Senior Respite Volunteer?
My particular job is to cover for other respite volunteers who may become ill, as you know we do not attend to our clients if we are sick with a cold, flu or other contagious illness, and clients too should cancel appointments if they have such illnesses. My coverage can also take place when a regularly assigned volunteer goes on vacation or is unable (for many reason) to make the regularly scheduled appointment. I am also assigned to a new client until a permanent volunteer is located and suitable to the family to be served.

Why do you volunteer?

  • The sharing of knowledge of days gone by
  • Giving care givers a much needed break
  • Witnessing the joy elders relate to in their daily life
  • Appreciating the foundations laid by those whom I currently serve
  • Observing the devotion and love that our care givers show our senior clients, is most rewarding.

In-Home Senior Respite is a hidden resource within our communities. Our service enables clients to keep loved ones in their home and in familiar surroundings, while they tend to the seniors every need. This leaves little time for the clients own needs, three hours is brief but can offer a much appreciated rest.

How has volunteering impacted you?
I have served fifteen families in Du Page County, in my close to five years of service. Several of these families, (I have found through our conversations) knew many of my Great Aunts and Uncles, the stories my clients share with me are most delightful. They connect me to my very own past.

Our clients backgrounds are from many different belief systems, ethnicities and careers, it is awesome to hear the adventures they have lived through and the struggles of life they look so fondly upon. One can see how our world has changed and developed by the foundations they have laid for us.

Seniors have always been inspiring to me, the vast knowledge they hold and the experiences they lived are a part of history. Having the opportunity to share in their life story is to me a great honor.

It is an honor to serve those who have come before me and I hold them as true treasures. Many of our clients and care givers have become an extension of our very own families. On occasion we lose them and it feels as if we have lost one of our own family members. What they impart is special and most memorable, and I would not want to have missed the opportunity of having met or serving them.

To learn about Metropolitan’s In-Home Senior Respite volunteer opportunities, click here.

Pi Beta Phi Visits DuPage Head Start

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DuPage Head Start celebrated Dr Seuss’ birthday earlier this month with members of the alumnae chapter of Pi Beta Phi. This interactive literacy event included story time with the children, playing games and decorating a book plate. Pi Beta Phi gave each child a Dr. Seuss book where they inserted their newly decorated book plates. All 68 Head Start children were given books! One child asked when he should return the book. The sorority members answered, “That’s your book to take home and keep!” The child asked, “Forever and ever?” The Pi Beta Phi members were visibly touched as they answered, “Yes, you can keep the book forever and ever.”

Thank you, Pi Beta Phi! 

Friday Fax: Metropolitan’s Legal Aid Bureau Celebrates 125 Years!

Yes, you read that correctly.  We are very proud to celebrate our 125th anniversary this year.  Watch our Face Book page for events throughout the year that will call attention to the work of our agency and the great cause of equal access to justice. To get your appetite whetted, here are some of the notable names associated with the work of the Legal Aid Bureau:

  • Clarence Darrow (founding member, Bureau of Justice)
  • Jane Addams (Counselor, helped found Northwestern Law School’s legal clinic)
  • Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft (Honorary Vice-Presidents, Legal Aid Society, 1915)
  • May Buckingham,  Mrs. Marshall Field,  John G. Shedd (Counselors, 1905)

And the Winner is…
You may have noticed the new spelling of this communication’s name. Some time ago we asked for suggestions to replace the original name “Friday Fax” which had become outdated. Many of you responded with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. Our thanks to Lisa Colpoys, Director of Illinois Legal Aid Online, who came up with a creative way to update, yet keep, a familiar name.

Congratulations
To Board member Scott Solberg, Eimer Stahl Kleivorn & Solberg LLP, who was chosen “Pro Bono Volunteer of the Month” by Illinois Legal Aid Online. Click here or check out their website at http://www.llinoisprobono.org to view the short video highlighting Scott’s commitment to pro bono work and access to justice.

www.metrofamily.org/lab

Decrease Holiday Stress… Increase Jo

This year, decrease holiday stress…and increase holiday joy

The holidays are here. And along with the joys of the season, often come seasonal stressors — lack of time, financial strain and pressure to complete holiday chores on top of our everyday responsibilities. Introduce the complexities of family relationships and the prevailing economic woes, and we really can feel overwhelmed.

According to a national survey by the American Psychological Association, holiday stress can mean some of us are more likely to experience sadness, sleep problems and lack of energy. If you are prone to experiencing greater stress during the holiday season, consider these suggestions to lessen the pressure this year:

  1. Keep realistic expectations. It’s easy to expect too much of the holidays and then feel disappointed when things don’t work out as we imagined.  The truth is there is no “perfect” holiday celebration.
  2. Do more of what you enjoy. Which parts of the holiday season do you want in your life?  Which parts would you prefer to do without?
  3. Budget your time. Be realistic about what you actually have time to accomplish and prioritize your activities accordingly.
  4. Don’t overspend. Create a holiday budget and stick to it. Be sure to include all costs, besides presents, such as big family dinners, wrapping paper, decorations, parties, etc.
  5. Remain flexible. Over-planning tends to create too much tension.
  6. Accept known problems and prepare to deal with them. If your brother and brother-in-law frequently argue at family gatherings, plan ahead how you will handle this situation.
  7. Don’t forget to breathe. Pencil in some down time to alleviate stress.  Be sure to get outside for some fresh air and sunlight to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that is common in the darker, winter months.

Happy Holidays from Metropolitan Family Services!

Friday Fax: Saving a Family’s Home

“Hi attorney Mullens – I want to thank you for being there for me and taking my case. Without you appearing in court and answering my response forms, I don’t think I would be in my home today. You are the best!   Keep up the good work.”

“Tina” and her husband were doing well, raising their family and meeting their bills. Things got tight when her husband lost his job. Then Tina lost hers. By the time both found new jobs, their home was in foreclosure. They approached their lender to see if they could work out an agreement to catch up but the lender wouldn’t talk to them.  When Tina met with LAB paralegal Laura Allen at our Midway Community Center, the family had been served with a motion for summary judgment. They were at imminent risk of losing their house and not being able to purchase another one because of the effect this would have on their credit. LAB did not have anyone available to make the next court date but attorney Timothy Mullens helped Tina prepare a response to file on her own until he could appear in court.  Tina went to court and the Judge continued the case based on her allegation that she had not received proper notice and to give her time to get an attorney. After several court appearances by LAB, the Judge denied the lenders request for a Judgment against Tina. His ruling in Tina’s favor was based on their listing an incorrect amount owed in the complaint, improper notice, and the lender’s refusal to discuss a modification of the loan. The Judge then granted several long continuances to allow Tina’s family to successfully negotiate a loan modification that would allow them to catch up and continue to make payments going forward.

“Hi Laura, I want to thank you for being there whenever I called with updated information regarding my home and court dates. A special thanks for referring me to one of the best attorneys – what a wonderful team!  Many thanks for your kindness, ‘Tina”
Thanks To:

  • Ferlillia Roberson and Jennifer Cowen – each designated a $500 gift to LAB from Kirkland & Ellis LLP to honor their donation of more than 200 pro bono hours last year
  • Illinois Bar Foundation – $5,000 for the Poverty Law Project
  • Square D- $30, 000 to support our child support work
  • Illinois Attorney General’s Office – $35,152.00 for the Domestic Violence Team

Congratulations To:

  • Newly elected Legal Aid Society Board members Douglas Stevens, Aon Corporation and Gregory Bailey, Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP

To learn more about the Legal Aid Bureau of Metorpolitan Family Services, click here.