SOS – In Other Words We Would Like Your Help
Each year, six out of ten U.S. households donate to charity in a given year. However, individuals do not give to the most urgent needs, but rather they support causes that mean something to them. Charity Navigator suggests that individuals looking to support a cause should focus on the mission of the nonprofit and get the facts. In an effort to foster connections to our kind supporters in the 2021 new year, we thought the best way to share our incredible mission each month is through a “Did You Know” blog series. Our first blog in this series sheds light on the meaning of our name, and here is a hint: it doesn’t have anything to do with morse code.
SOS Illinois’ Programming Based on Proven Village Model of Care from International Organization
SOS Children’s Villages International, is the parent organization to SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. For over seven decades, SOS International has provided crucial programs and services for children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected in over 550 Villages in more than 130 countries across the globe.
In 1949, a young Austrian named Hermann Gmeiner founded the organization in the years following World War II, and the original mission was to care for children who lost family members during the war. Today, SOS Children’s Villages International cares for more than 87,000 children who are in out of home care for a variety of reasons. Natural disasters, war, disease, and children’s rights make the mission of SOS International crucial to achieving a sense of social justice in every part of the world today.
Having experienced the horrors of war himself as a soldier in Russia, Hermann was then confronted with the isolation and suffering of the many homeless children as a child welfare worker after the end of the Second World War. In his unswerving conviction that help can never be effective as long as children have to grow up without a home of their own, he set about implementing his idea for SOS Children’s Villages.
The Village Model of Care includes four core principles of Gmeiner’s vision: ‘Having a caring mother, siblings, a home and a supportive community give a child a place to belong, where one feels safe and wanted. It is this very foundation that enables children to become successful adults.’ This vision continues to impact the foundation of each Village.
The Meaning of “SOS”
Upon its inception, SOS Children’s Villages International was originally called “Societas Socialis”. Societas Socialis, which is Latin for a “Socially Responsible Society”, or literally translated as “Social Society”, reflected the poor economic and social situation in Tyrol after the Second World War. During this time, child protection services and welfare agencies were being fully utilized to accommodate to the high needs of children and sibling groups who lost their parents.
Hermann Gmeiner understood that in order for true change to take place in the world, individuals would have to be socially responsible. Gmeiner was a perfect example of one man acting on principles for the betterment of society. His actions are responsible for having started a worldwide movement that is still living and breathing today – over 70 years later. From this original name – “Societas Socialis” – the “SOS” in our modern name was born.
Those meeting SOS Children’s Villages across the world for the first time often think our name holds other origins. New friends assume our “SOS” is Morse Code, “save our ship”, “save our souls”, “send out succor”, or “service over self.” It is important for us to share the historical information about our name, as it reinforces our mission and identity as we continue to serve children and families of greatest need through Villages and community-based programs.
SOS Children’s Villages Illinois Joins the SOS Children’s Villages Family
SOS Illinois, founded over 30 years ago, is an individual 501(c)3 child welfare agency that serves over 500 at-risk youth and children and families of Illinois each year by providing a stable home in a supportive, community environment designed to help children in need grow into caring, productive, and self-reliant adults.
Following Hermann Gmeiner’s vision, SOS Illinois emphasizes uniting siblings in foster care who then receive care and support from a full-time, professionally trained Foster Parent, grow up in one of our private, single-family homes, and are supported by the Village, designed as an intentional community of care. At SOS Illinois, we also include our family strengthening services as a cornerstone to the important work we do with regards to reunifying families.
SOS Illinois is proud to be a part of an organization that stands for the rights and dignity of each child. We, as an organization, will continue to ensure that as long as a child is in need of safety, security, and community, SOS Illinois will encourage them on their journey toward healing and reaching their fullest potential. We will work to make a difference because see each child as our responsibility, as did Hermann Gmeiner: “All the children of the world are our children.”
Support the SOS Children’s Villages Illinois Legacy
Consider making a contribution to ensuring the programs and services at SOS Illinois continue to strengthen families and transform lives for years to come as well. Click here to donate today. Remember, one small action can start a worldwide movement.