LSSI Receives $15,000 in Grants from Community Foundation of Northern Illinois For RSVP Healthy Futures Program, Legacy Corps

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) recently received $15,000 in grant funding from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL). A $10,000 grant will support the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) serving Winnebago and Boone Counties, while a $5,000 grant will support Legacy Corps. LSSI, a social services agency headquartered in Des Plaines, offers programs and services throughout Illinois, including the greater Rockford area.

RSVP is part of Senior Corps, which is administered by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. It is the largest volunteer network for people age 55 and over with more than 500,000 volunteers across the country. LSSI manages the RSVP program of Winnebago and Boone counties, connecting volunteers with service opportunities in their communities. Currently, RSVP has approximately 1,200 volunteers working with 140 community non-profit organizations serving those counties.

The grant from the CFNIL’s Dr. Louis and Violet Rubin Fund will be used to support the Healthy Futures national initiative. As part of Healthy Futures, RSVP volunteers provide presentations on preventative healthcare services, health and wellness, and nutrition to vulnerable community residents—from children to seniors. In addition, volunteers partner with food pantries to deliver food to older adults and people with disabilities. As part of the initiative, RSVP volunteers established a community garden in Rockford. Last year, 500 pounds of food was harvested and distributed through the Belvidere Boone County Pantry and the Rock River Valley Pantry to people in need.

“RSVP’s Health Futures program strengthens partnerships with non-profit organizations, like LSSI, that assist vulnerable residents in our communities,” said Diana Burke, director of the RSVP program. “The grant from CFNIL will help us expand RSVP to engage more volunteers in conducting classes on fitness, food, and nutrition education, and to maintain and expand community garden projects.”

Legacy Corps is an AmeriCorps program facilitated by the University of Maryland and executed locally across the United States by 17 non-profit organizations like LSSI. Legacy Corps provides respite, education, and resources to veterans, military families, and their caregivers through volunteered hours of service by trained members. Legacy Corps received $5,000 from CNFIL’s Howard D. Coleman Memorial Fund.

Legacy Corps members provide time off for caregivers to run errands, see to other responsibilities, or just relax. Volunteers receive 20 hours of initial training, including CPR and respite care, and then have access to monthly training on topics ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to nutrition and exercise.

“Last year, LSSI’s Legacy Corps members provided 22,500 hours of support and respite, preventing the isolation, physical and mental stress, and exhaustion that can impair both a veteran and a caregiver,” said Donna Ballard, Legacy Corps coordinator. “Funding from CFNIL helps us to recruit volunteers, reach more veterans, and provide needed hours of service.”

About Community Foundation of Northern Illinois

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is the area’s largest provider of grants and scholarships. Celebrating 60 years of philanthropy, the Foundation’s mission is to attract, grow, and preserve an endowment for the needs of Northern Illinois.

About Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Founded in 1867, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) is a statewide, not-for-profit social service agency of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LSSI is the largest social service provider in the state, and last year served 73,000 people through 190 programs at 85 sites across Illinois. Services include counseling, mental health, alcohol and drug treatment, residential treatment for children and adolescents, Head Start, child care services, services for at-risk families, residential programs for adults and children with developmental disabilities, foster care and adoption, pregnancy counseling, housing and services for older adults and individuals with disabilities, and programs for people who are incarcerated and their families.


Diana Burke, RSVP Director

Donna Ballard, Legacy Corps Coordinator