$14,000 in Grants from Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Yields Healthy Results for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) in Winnebago Boone Counties in 2013


$14,000 in Grants from Community Foundation of Northern Illinois Yields Healthy Results for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) Programs in Winnebago Boone Counties in 2013

March 12, 2014. Winnebago, IL - Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) yielded healthy results in 2013 from two grants, totaling $14,000, from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, which supported several programs, including one benefiting veterans, in the Winnebago Boone Counties. LSSI, a statewide social services agency based in Des Plaines, offers programs and services throughout Illinois, including the Rockford area. The programs supported by the grants are the Retired & Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP) and Legacy Corps.

RSVP is part of Senior Corps, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a U.S. federal government agency. Senior Corps is the largest volunteer network for people age 55 and older, with more than 500,000 volunteers across the country. LSSI manages the RSVP program of Winnebago and Boone counties, connecting volunteers 55 years and older with service opportunities in their communities that match their skills and availability. Currently, RSVP has approximately 1,200 volunteers working with 140 community non-profit organizations in the Rockford area.

A $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois supported the “Healthy Futures’” program focus. As part of “Healthy Futures,” RSVP volunteers provided presentations throughout the area to nearly 4,000 people, from children to seniors, which helped individuals increase their knowledge of preventive healthcare, wellness, and improving nutrition.

The grant also supported creation of a community garden and partnerships with food pantries to deliver food to older adults and people with disabilities. RSVP volunteers established the garden at Peterson Meadows Retirement Community, 6401 Newberry Street, Rockford. Senior RSVP volunteers led the garden’s establishment, which included building and maintaining the garden beds, weighing the produce, and delivering it to Belvidere Boone County Pantry and the Rock River Valley Pantry. In its first year, 500 pounds of produce was harvested in the summer and fall of 2013. Of the food harvested, 10 percent was given to Lifescape Community Services, and the remainder was given to the area pantries that distributed it to needy residents.

"RSVP's ‘Healthy Future's’ program focus has helped LSSI to strengthen and expand partnerships with community organizations, resulting in a multitude of benefits for area residents in need," said Diana Burke, director of the RSVP program. "For example, by working with local food pantries, we were able to have our community garden produce distributed to people in need.”

In addition to the RSVP’s ’Healthy Future’s” program, a $4,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, supported Legacy Corps, part of the federal AmeriCorps program. Facilitated by the University of Maryland, and executed locally in 15 sites by non-profit organizations such as LSSI, Legacy Corps provides respite, education, and resources to veterans, military families, and their caregivers through volunteered hours of trained members. Each member commits to 450 or more hours of volunteer service in one year. Services range from in-home assistance to public education, which are provided at no cost to recipients. The grant helped support the costs of training and implementation of services.

“In addition to the services our Legacy Corps members provide to veterans and their families, LSSI has established several veteran-based social groups throughout northern Illinois," said Donna Ballard, Legacy Corps Coordinator.

RSVP has two offices—the office in Rockford handles Winnebago County requests, while the office in Belvidere handles Boone County requests. LSSI’s role is to connect non-profit organizations or “work stations”—churches, schools, colleges, retirement communities, hospitals, and agencies—with volunteers; LSSI’s role is also to recruit volunteers. For more information on RSVP, contact Diana Burke, Director of RSVP, at 815.397.7103. For more information on Legacy Corps, contact Donna Ballard, RSVP Coordinator, at 815.988.3593.

About Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
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 endowments for the needs of Northern Illinois.

About Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI)
Founded in 1867, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois is a statewide not-for-profit social service agency of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). LSSI is committed to caring for all people in need, regardless of religion, age or national origin, helping them to make essential changes, leading to better lives and communities.


Barb Hailey