Agency Stories

Knox County Child Adovacy Center
After several presentations for Internet safety, many adults have commented that they are unaware of the dangers on the Internet such as not even having virus software or understanding how children/teens can circumvent control programs.  Many older adults serve as caregivers for grandchildren and other people’s children and their lack of knowledge could lead to abuse for children. Teaching them provides much needed information in preventing issues for children in their care.
 
A mother contacted Knox County Child Advocacy after an Internet Safety program to say she found her teenage daughter was sending inappropriate types of texts.  The mother was able to install an app on her phone to monitor her daughter’s phone usage.  The mother was grateful for the knowledge she learned in the KCCAC session
Girl Scouts
Girl Scout troops were busy planting this spring! They planted the Girl Scout Flower Garden next to the depot parking lot and included monarch attracting perennial native plants to make it a Monarch Way Station this year. Girls have planted this garden for 31 years.
 
45 girls visited Blackthorn Hill for Camp Snoopy Day Camp from June 6 to 10, 2016. Girls participated in archery, crafts, hikes, swimming and made tons of new friends.
Camp Kidz

There were two new campers this year that are siblings and have been diagnosed with severe autism. Both campers really struggled learning the routine and boundaries. They required intensive 1:1 supervision. This is also required at school on a daily basis. After week two of camp staff were able to fade the 1:1 supervision and they only required monitoring at certain times of the day. Both of these campers have made such great gains this summer at camp.

Alternatives

     Recently, one of our participants received a $154.00 dollar phone bill. This participant knew that they did not owe this amount, but after two phone calls they were unable to resolve the issue on their own. This participant was in tears saying “They won’t listen to me.”
     The participant contacted the local Money Management Coordinator, Lori Link, and related the problem to her. Lori met with the participant the next day and spent two and a half hours on the phone with the telephone company. Once the situation was resolved it was determined that the participant’s correct bill was actually $28.78. The amount that this participant was originally billed and told that they owed to the phone company would have created a great financial hardship for this person for the month, impacting their ability to afford groceries, medicine, and other essentials.
     Navigating automated phone systems is frustrating for all of us. However, it is beyond frustrating for seniors, with hearing, vision, cognitive or other impairments. This story serves as a reminder that occasionally this frustration can result in more than a simple inconvenience and without an advocate like the Money Management program, this person may not have had this issue resolved in their favor.

Recently, the local Money Management Coordinator had a program participant who had to provide additional documentation to the Department of Human Services and the Inspector General’s Office to prove her eligibility for Medicaid. This has been an increasing occurrence recently as Illinois is scrutinizing benefit applications very closely. This participant is legally blind and would have had great difficulty locating the required documents for the history of her pension payments and an annual annuity payment on their own. With the help of the Money Management Coordinator, they were able to secure all of the necessary documents and paperwork. Without this assistance this participant may have very well ended up losing Medicaid benefits that they depend on. We often provide stories here of Money Management participants who are in financial crisis. However, one of the very important things that our program also does is to help seniors and disabled adults to navigate complicated benefit programs and to help them access crucial benefits that improve their quality of life.

Red Cross

Engaging young volunteers is a universal challenge for non-profits, especially college students who are typically very busy and often have erratic schedules. However, in Knox County, the Knox College Red Cross Club has proven to be an exception. The club formed in late January and immediately demonstrated that it was going to make itself an asset to the Red Cross mission in and around it’s community. Under the leadership of club president, Jasmine Artis, the club grew in size and began seeking out opportunities for service. In the short time that the Knox College Red Cross Club has been in existence, they have sought out numerous certifications and trainings that will help them assist in the event of disaster and even more importantly have played a vital role in the success of the Home Fire Campaign in the region. Knox College students were staffing leads at the Davenport location for our region’s largest HFC event and flawlessly managed every volunteer team in the field, keeping track of large amounts of information  and helping to ensure the success and safety every volunteer that worked on their site. Currently the club is actively promoting the upcoming HFC event in Knox County. They are working hard to engage their entire campus in this life-saving campaign and have committed themselves, and the level of professionalism that they have demonstrated they are capable of, to yet another successful event in their home town.

This quarter, we helped military member’s mother from Knox County get in touch with her son.  The soldier’s grandfather had an illness, and it had become critical and the outcome was not looking good.  The Red Cross was able to work with the family and the military to get the message delivered.  The son was able to get emergency leave from his commanding officer and made it home to be able to visit his grandfather.

YMCA Before and After School Program

Throughout the past few years we have had a family that has come in and out of our Before and After School Program. Unfortunately these boys have been subjected to their parents' toxic relationship.  The boys bounce from being with both parents to being with just the grandparents. The thing that hasn't changed is that they are always in our programs. We are able to provide a stable environment for the kids.

CASA
In the second quarter of 2016 we have exemplified our mission advocating in the best interest of the children we serve by: providing 33 reports to the court, attending 74 hearings and receiving 3 case closures achieving permanency for 3 children. 
 
The following are direct quotes from a few of our advocates highlighting the advocacy they provided for “their” minors: 
“The minor is in a loving home. I think it’s a positive for him to have contact with me as another person who cares about him.”
“I was present for the minor when placement changed.”
“I diligently researched and conferred to reach the conclusion that the minors needed to be removed from their current family foster care due to safety concerns, in spite of the [agency]‘s decision to leave the kids in that home.”
“In my court report, I included documents that were not previously submitted and asked Judge to rule on the foster home placement change. I spoke assertively in Chambers meeting and testified accordingly.”
“I made sure they were safe and happy! ?”
“I made sure the kids still want and enjoy parent visits and that they’re comfortable with Dad’s girlfriend, who was approved to supervise his visits.”
“I took my child a card and a little cake for her birthday.”
“I do my best to support the relative caregiver in making a home environment for my kid.”
YMCA Early Learning Center

During the month of April a parent stopped in the office of the Early Learning Center. This parent is an expecting mother who is in the middle of toilet training her 3 year old daughter. This frustrated mom needed time to get her thoughts together and someone to lend a listening ear. Toilet training is a real and can be a stressful experience for families. After the mother shared her frustrations she stated that she was glad she had this time to refocus. The Early Learning Center team works hard to connect and support families. Taking the time to listen and to build a strong relationship with families helps relieve some of the stress families go through. The Early Learning Center team, meeting the needs of those they serve.

A single mom was beginning the nursing program at Carl Sandburg College. Nikki has a two year old son that had been in a child care home but the care had not been consistent and reliable. She expressed an anxiety about missing classes.  She stated that if he was at the Early Learning Center she would be able to confidently and securely concentrate on her classes. Nikki’s son has transitioned well into the Early Learning Center and Nikki has expressed her happiness with his progress.  The teachers at the Early Learning Center feel honored to be a part of Nikki’s journey to create a better life for her and her family. Programs of the Knox County YMCA partnering with families to improve their lives, social responsibility
Red Cross

Red Cross Volunteers Marty and Komi have come to perfectly reflect the dedication and commitment that defines the Red Cross in the communities that it serves. While both of these men have had very busy lives outside of volunteering, they are often the first to sign up to help. Whether it is responding to DAT calls in the middle of the night, or helping with successful Home Fire Campaigns throughout the chapter, these two incredible volunteers are never too busy to help.

Marty was back in the field responding to disaster calls and installing smoke detectors as soon as his doctor gave him the go ahead. When others would have been resting, Marty was out serving his community. And Komi has dedicated countless hours to the same pursuits despite having the remarkably busy schedule that comes with finishing school and opening his own business.

Two very different men, from very different worlds who have become close friends and perfectly demonstrate the compassion, commitment and diversity that make the Red Cross the amazing organization that it is.

Prairie State Legal Services

A young mother of three children contacted our office after her husband became mentally, physically, and verbally abusive towards her. Her husband had pending criminal charges for domestic battery and had an outstanding warrant for breaking into her home.  With our assistance, this woman was able to obtain a divorce, custody of the minor child, and $554.24 per month in child support.

An elderly man was denied Medicaid coverage after submitting all requested paperwork. DHS claimed that our client was unwilling to provide the required information. When our client's nursing home received a letter from DHS, they were going to charge our client for his stay at the nursing home, however our client did not have enough money to pay the total cost.
Our office communicated with DHS to determine which documents were needed to re-evaluate the client's case and where they should be sent. DHS then determined the client eligible for Medicaid coverage and his benefits were continued which allowed him to stay in the nursing home.

A man contacted our office requesting help with a Power of Attorney for Healthcare. He had just been diagnosed with brain cancer and the prognosis was not good. The man was preparing to start chemotherapy the next day and wanted to be sure his sister could make decisions for him if necessary. With our assistance, the man was able to execute a Power of Attorney naming his sister his agent before any major medical treatments were started.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Wesley and Wayne are matched in our Lunch Buddy program and have been matched since 2012. Wayne visits Wesley at his school about once a week during Wesley’s lunch time. This first year or so was a lot of Wayne asking questions and trying to get to know Wesley. Wesley was a pretty shy and reserved child but recently, he’s started really opening up and trusting Wayne. He’s begun sharing stories about his family and details about school and also asks Wayne how his family is and is curious to learn about his life. Wesley works hard in school and has made great improvements since being matched with Wayne. Wayne has been someone that has been a positive, consistent role model that he can count on and trust to talk to about topics he wouldn’t normally share with other people.

This school year, we had two of our matches close because both of the “Littles” in the program graduated from High School. This is a big success for our program as we hope that the mentor would stay paired with the child through High School.