Stories

A Safe Place for Kids to Talk, Learn and Grow
 

Fostering Knowledge for the Good of Kids
 

Full Circle
 

Lifebooks help Kids Heal, One Page at a Time
 

Protecting Seniors from Elder Abuse
 

Trinity Sets the Table for Teens
 

'We're here...to do anything that needs doing'
 The first-ever Youth Service Day put teens from the ELCA's Metro Chicago Synod to work cleaning and painting one of the LSSI's Head Start sites, while they learned about the importance and joys of serving people close to home.

A Great Home for Our Family
 Washington Place, a group home for Prader-Willi syndrome, helps residents with the genetic disorder lead independent, full lives.

Caregivers: In the Same Boat But Not Alone
 LSSI offers support groups for caregivers to help them deal with the problems and stress they face while caring for their loved ones. Through groups, caregivers share their experiences and get connected to community resources.

Head Start: Making a World of Difference
 At LSSI's Head Start sites, children from low-income families gain a critical leg up in preparing for the day they enter kindergarten. Emphasizing school readiness and a holistic approach, the program involves the whole family.

Love Gives the Power to Change a Child's Life
 Foster parents can make an amazing difference in children's lives, helping them grow and develop. In Illinois, there is an especially urgent need for individuals or couples who are willing to foster children with special needs.

‘Storybook’ Volunteers Help Send Voice of Love Home
 The first time she went to prison, Margaret Hawkins of Bloomington says she was nervous. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” she remembers.

Choices: Giving Kids with Addictions a Fighting Chance
 Tony* says he was just 12 years old when he first tried alcohol. By the time he reached 13, he was using cocaine. And he stole to support his habit.

Jovon’s Joyful Adoption Day
 While every adoption is special, the court proceeding at which Brad and Cindy Snoke of Groveland, Ill., became the legal parents of 11-year-old Jovon was particularly joyful and extraordinary by anyone’s standards.

Seniors Find Love, Care and Independence at Joshua Arms
 Sometimes love comes when it’s least expected. A case in point. When Mary Ann Bobak visited Joshua Arms, a senior housing program of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) in Joliet, four years ago, she was just looking for a change....

The Best Choice For Their Families
 No one suspected that Danielle*, a college student, was pregnant — at first, not even Danielle.

Making Life Easier for Caregivers
 When Marietta Hagewood, 88, had a stroke in 2010, her grandson, Thomas Stein, left a good job in Houston, packed up his apartment and moved back to Peoria to care for her.

Sprouting Hope at Buddy House
 Walking through rows of vegetables and fruits planted by residents of the Blackhawk Housing Complex, Ruth Fairchild can feel, breathe and see the magic two community gardens have created in the southeast Rockford neighborhood she serves.

Where the Church Meets the Public Square
 “Life is a series of choices and decisions, and our choices do shape how we feel about ourselves and where we’re headed in life. The choices are difficult, and we know that God does understand that.”

A Stabilizing Partnership: LSSI's Project IMPACT Helps People in Crisis
 At Swedish Covenant Hospital’s emergency room (ER) in Chicago, a mother comforts her sobbing teenage daughter.

Bullies, Divorce and Self-Esteem: Teaching Kids How to Cope
 One boy, a first-grader, is so anxious about school that he gets sick every night — and at school. And a girl has separation anxiety so severe that it prevents her from going to school.

Helping Returning Citizens Grow Beyond the Past
 Ernest Hale knows something about how things grow, perhaps because he was a late bloomer himself. Now a 49-year-old father of five, Hale leans back thoughtfully in his chair as he recounts his early days on Chicago’s West Side, where he failed to not

Marvin Sykes: Stepping Up For Kids
 “Head Start is the best start. It’s our chance to make a difference in our children’s lives,” says Marvin Sykes. And for the past year, he’s been working to reach out to Head Start parents with that message.

Rooted in Care: Volunteers find joy and purpose in Legacy Corps
 Legacy Corps volunteer Diane Blanks listens carefully as she helps Margaret, a resident, to gently transfer an African violet plant to a new container.

Shady Oaks: A Home and Much More
 Bathrooms often compete with kitchens when it comes to top priorities for home remodeling.

Support Along the Road to Self-Reliance
 Jackie and Rodney are both Peoria-area single parents with very different stories, but each credits the Single Parent Program offered by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) with helping them make life-altering changes on their path to a bette

Helping Seniors Live at Home
 Why should a person lose everything just because they are old?” asks Marva Stewart, 71, Chicago.

Haiti Relief Effort ‘a work of the heart’ for Members of LSSI’s Journey’s
 Members of the Journeys program, at LSSI's Portage Cragin Counseling Center on the northwest side of Chicago, took a journey of their own early in February when they organized a "Have a Heart" donation drive to benefit the earthquake victims in Haiti

Building A New Life After Prison
 A unique scholarship program links graduates of LSSI's Building Homes:Rebuilding Lives with Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

A New Playground for North Austin Head Start
 In September 2008, LSSI’s North Austin Head Start playground received a major facelift.

LSSI Employee Featured in Foster Kids Are Our Kids Campaign
 Chiketa Matthews, a licensing specialist with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), is one of three former foster children featured in the new, statewide Foster Kids Are Our Kids campaign, “I’m Doing Good.”

Preserving Adoptions One Family at a Time
 Twila and David Mustain of Galesburg didn’t expect to fill their two-bedroom bungalow-style house with five adopted children.

One Mother’s Determination
 Hard work, persistence and help from LSSI enable a woman struggling with domestic violence and drug abuse issues to reunite with her daughter, who was placed in foster care.

‘… Find Me a Place to Volunteer’
 As part of her participation in D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) at Gemini Junior High School, 12-year-old Patricia Schwed of Niles had to earn community service hours. A friend suggested volunteering at a nursing home, but Patricia – and h

Hello, I love you
 The last time 9-year-old Najee saw his father, Dustin, snow blanketed just about everything in Rockford.

Living at Joshua Arms: The Best of Both Worlds
 Living at Joshua Arms Senior Residence in Joliet “is like Christmas,” says 79-year-old Tina Fabine. “I never had it so good.

LSSI's 2008 Foster Parent Law Implementation Plan Earns Award
 On May 16, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) presented LSSI with an award for its plan.

An Adoption Journey Home
 Jody and Rose Baker decided to go home, to Rose's village in the Philippines, to expand their family.

Keeping Families Intact
 In the midst of turmoil, one southern Illinois family finds help through Intact Family Services. The program works with families in their homes, keeping children out of the child welfare system.

Linking Seniors to Resources
 Social service coordinators link residents of LSSI’s senior housing programs to services and benefits to help them live fully and independently.

LSSI Group Homes: A Place to Develop
 The goal of LSSI's group homes for people with developmental disabilities is to provide a living environment that is structured caring and also nurtures residents' independence.

Building Homes: Rebuilding Lives
 Building Homes:Rebuilding Lives, a partnership between LSSI, the Illinois Department of Corrections, Habitat for Humanity and School District 428, offers inmates the opportunity to give back to the community.

In the Comfort of Home
 Intouch Services in Peoria, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, makes home care services affordable, enabling seniors to stay in their homes.

Keeping Adults at Home
 Intouch Adult Day Services provides older adults with the opportunity to maintain their residences in the community while providing peace of mind for their loved ones.

Making Their Own Wings
 Collaboration between staff members and clients enhances LSSI's innovative and effective mental health programs.

Ms. Shelby Gives Up on No Child
 Champaign foster mother opens her home to give help and hope to many children, including hard-to-place teenage boys.

Peterson Meadows Retirement Community Grows Friendships
 Peterson Meadows offers residents comfortable, maintenance-free housing, built-in companionship and lots of ways to keep active.

Putting the Pieces Together
 Lifebooks helps children in foster care preserve their life stories, embrace their strengths and make sense of loss, trauma and change.

Second Family: A Legacy of Hope
 For 12 years, Second Family helped HIV-infected women make permanency plans for their children and find support and a sense of community.

Telepsychiatry: Picture to Picture, Face to Face
 In its Telepsychiatry Program, LSSI uses technology to connect adolescents served by Nachusa Lutheran Home with a psychiatrist 90 miles away at its Des Plaines office.

The Dream of Family Adopting From Around the World
 For people who dream of having a family, international adoption offers a compelling way to bring that dream to life and give a child a loving home.

The Hands of Head Start
 At LSSI's six Head Start sites in Chicago, parent volunteers help out, providing invaluable support to teachers and staff and enriching students' Head Start experience.

A Positive Influence
 LSSI’s School-Based Program, offered at 15 public schools in north central Illinois, provides a variety of education and support services to students, freeing them to focus their energy on schoolwork.

A Spirit of Caring
 New awards highlight special volunteers throughout the state for their unique contributions to LSSI's work.

Adoption Day: Sharing The Joy
 In the late August, when Chris and Sophie officially became members of Shaun and Kim Bill's family, their loved ones and friends were there to celebrate.

All About Gratitude
 Graduates of the Men's Residence West, an LSSI substance abuse program, give back and help others nurture their sobriety.

Churches Reach Out With Ministry Of Hope
 Three churches receive the 2005 Ministry of Hope Award for their efforts in extending social ministry to their communities.

Connecting With a New Life
 Incarcerated women frequently lack access to services that allow them to successfully re-enter the community, but LSSI’s Connections program is there to support and empower them and their families.

Corporate Lawyer to Cruise Director
 After taking early retirement last year, Scott Gierke began work as a volunteer activity coordinator with Journeys, a community-based program for adults with mental illness in Chicago.

Detox Opens the Door
 Sometimes the first opportunity to engage people in treatment, LSSI’s Detox program brings hope to those struggling with alcoholism and other drug addictions.

Dreams Do Come True
 In May, people gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the culmination of a dream called Shady Oaks, a program for adults with developmental disabilities.

Faithful Servants: Long-Term LSSI Employees Reflect On Their Work
 LSSI’s veteran employees bring a variety of rich resources to the agency — including a dedication to LSSI clients and a sense of institutional history.

Finding Support Strength and New Possibilities
 LSSI's Single Parent Program helps participants find support and develop skills that lead to greater independence and self-empowerment.

Foster Parenting
 There's nothing better than to be a foster parent, says a southern Illinois woman who adopted a special needs foster child.

Healing Families: A Community Effort
 Family to Family works to keep children in their neighborhoods whenever possible and to speed reunification of families separated by abuse and neglect.

Home Is Where Your Heart Is
 The P.A. Peterson Center for Health offers a wide range of living options for seniors, as well as services to the greater Rockford community.

Internships at LSSI
 Eager to learn and contribute, students benefit from serving LSSI clients through the agency's numerous internships. And LSSI programs benefit, too.

The Womens Network
 The Women's Network, founded 25 years ago, has grown to be a group of more than 80 women who pool their collective skills and enthusiasm to make a difference in the lives of the people served by the agency.

What You Give From the Heart
 LSSI clients, volunteers and staff from around the state reflect on what Christmas means to them.

When I Was In Prison
 Thursday Ministry volunteers reach out to Dixon Correctional Center inmates, bringing love and spiritual inspiration.

When You Need Extra Help
 In Rockford, LSSI offers a variety of living and care options for seniors. Jeannette Muehlemeyer and Shirley Lundgren, who live full lives at Peterson Meadows and P.A. Peterson Center for Health, receive daily assistance tailored to their needs.

A Refugee's Story
 A Vietnamese refugee finds a connection with other people in recovery at LSSI's Intensive Outpatient Group in Chicago.

Barnabas Ministers: A Heart Connection
 Volunteers provide a listening ear and friendship to “special people” — the residents at P.A. Peterson Center for Health in Rockford.