On December 5, we gathered at Drinker Biddle & Reath for our 2018 Annual Meeting to reflect on our accomplishments and celebrate how we as a community are building a legacy for children in foster care.
In the company of our Board of Directors, staff, corporate partners, and supporters, we gather together each year to celebrate the work we’ve done and the people who make all of our accomplishments and progress possible.
A few of those impactful individuals were recognized as our 2018 Annual Meeting honorees: Daughters of Charity accepted by Sister Mary Ellen Lacey, awarded the 2018 Distinguished Community Leadership Award; Margie Boenzi, awarded the 2018 Distinguished Volunteer Leadership Award; Micah Materre WGN News, awarded the 2018 Making a Difference Award; SOS Illinois Business Managers and Facilities Staff, awarded the 2018 Distinguished Staff Leadership Award; Frank Gurtz (Gurtz Electric Co.), 2018 Distinguished Corporate Leadership Award; and Don Biernacki, 2018 Excellence in Leadership Award.
SOS Illinois awarded Board President Don Biernacki at our Annual Meeting with the 2018 Excellence in Leadership Award, an award given to outgoing Presidents of the Board. Don also served as the keynote speaker for the evening. During his keynote address, Don referenced a quote by Daniel Burnham: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us.”
The last award of the evening was given to David Hoffman, the longest serving member on the SOS Illinois Board of Directors. With over twenty-five years of service to the organization, David has provided leadership during his tenure holding numerous officer positions; as chairman of several committees; and overseen the design and construction of all three Villages, as well as the community centers, including the yet-to-be-built community center at Roosevelt Square. David was given the Pillar of Excellence Award, which was the first time this award has been given. Additionally, Don Biernacki announced he and the board wanted to create something more permanent in recognition of David by naming the large multipurpose space in the new community center at Roosevelt Square in honor of David Hoffman and his wife Ruth Callaghan. David shared he was honored and humbled to receive this. He thanked Dirk Lohan, who was in attendance, for first getting him involved with SOS Illinois.
“In 1992, I was fortunate to be working on a project with Dirk, and he introduced me to this organization. He said I’m going to build a Village in Lockport, IL to take care of kids. Would you help me interview contractors and make a selection to build the Village? I agreed to do that, and Dirk continued to tell me more and more and more about the organization. Having been an orphan myself, it was an immediate connection for me, as you can understand. Now, I’ve been doing this for 26 years. Naturally, the question has come to me many times, what are you still doing here? There are a lot of answers to that. One is that is has been an absolute delight to work with Tim, the professional that he is, and the wonderful staff that you have heard a lot about tonight. They are just a delight to work with. I’ve also been fortunate over all these years to work with just excellent fellow board members, people who are as committed to this organization as you can imagine, and it’s just been a real pleasure; and it’s an inspiration to me. But the real reason, the big reason I guess is right here. Similar to what you heard from Don, all that has to happen to me if I start to think about its been long enough is to go the Village and listen to some of the stories. That’s all it takes, because it’s all about the kids. Thanks so much for this.”
2018 accomplishments celebrated, included: providing 283 children a safe and secure home; an additional 218 children receiving care through our family strengthening program at Casa Tepeyac for a total of 501 children who received care and support from SOS Illinois staff throughout the year. Also in 2018, we had 7 seniors graduate from high school. All have either secured full-time employment or are enrolled and attending college. Furthermore, we successfully achieved reaccreditation from COA, and had a landmark year for development and raising money for the organization through special events.
In addition to reflecting on the positive outcomes of 2018, it was also an occasion to educate supporters of the changing trends in foster care due to the Family First Prevention Services Act, passed in February 2018. Tim highlighted one story of our organization’s efforts to build permanency for the children in our care. As CEO Tim McCormick shared, “At SOS Illinois, the greatest legacy we can leave for any child is a safe, stable ‘forever home’.”
Our appreciation to all those in attendance at this year’s annual meeting, and each and every one of our supporters who contributed to our mission in 2018. We look forward to all that lies ahead for us as a community and organization in 2019.