Why Hephzibah’s children want to live nearby
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:20AM
Belonging to a community like Elmwood Park or Franklin Park comes second for most of us, after belonging to a family. But when you don’t have a family to call your own, community goes to the top of the list. Especially when you’re a young child and the community you’ve come to live in is the first truly safe place you’ve ever known. You get to go to school every day, make friends and learn how to enjoy life.
Our children at Hephzibah Children’s Association develop very close, loving connections to their care-giving adults and their peers. So when it’s time to leave Hephzibah and move on, their first wish is to stay nearby and to live in a family that they can call their own.
Some people have never heard of Hephzibah. We’re the oldest charity in Oak Park, 115 years old this year. Our founding mother Mary Wessels named Hephzibah after her mother. For many generations we have maintained a leadership role in the assessment and comprehensive care of some of Illinois’ most vulnerable young children. Our goal is to secure a stable loving family for every child, if their own family has been ruled out. Our success rate, under the four decades of leadership by Executive Director Mary Anne Brown, is excellent! Some of our graduates return to mentor, encourage and support the frightened little ones whose trauma is fresh and whose stay at Hephzibah has just begun.
Maybe foster care or adoption has been something you have considered. A phone call to Hephzibah, at (708) 649-7140, would give you the information you need to make an informed decision about whether it is time to proceed. Your preparatory training sessions are located right here at Hephzibah as well, specifically designed to make the licensing process as easy as possible. Even if you are a single parent, this opportunity may be attainable for you.
Or if you’ve thought about fostering or adopting a child but it just isn’t possible right now, you can still help in critical ways by volunteering in our Homework Helpers Program or gathering donations at your church or at your work. You can help us make a child’s birthday special or come and do an art, cooking or garden project with the children.
Every child needs a caregiver; a mentor or a friend who can help them become whatever they want to be. One person who will stand with them to guide their way, offer a kind word, a gentle embrace and whatever encouragement they need to succeed. Every step, every breath we take, a child is watching, learning from and emulating us!
Take a moment to make that call and find out how you can help. And spread the word about our Hephzibah mission because it does take a village to raise a child.
Davida Ellen Williams, a licensed clinical social worker, member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and LPHA, is a Foster Care Specialist for Hephzibah Children’s Association in Oak Park.