During Foster Care Awareness month we recognize the commitment our Foster Parents make to the children in their care and to the SOS Illinois difference.
This year we were fortunate to have the support of Swissôtel Chicago, who hosted the event, and to be in company of Foster Parents and support staff from all of our Villages.
Here are reflections of our appreciation from our CEO, Tim McCormick, and Board President, Don Biernacki, on the amazing sacrifice our Foster Parents show and the marked impact they make.
The Gift and Power of Love: Reflections from our CEO Tim McCormick
During Foster Care Awareness month we appreciate our Foster Parents and the complexities of the work that everyone [on our staff] does. It is really very challenging, hard work, and it makes a such a difference in our world and in our society.
Earlier this week I met with a man who went through Chicago Village. He’s now 24 years old. He came to us when he was 12 years old and has broken the negative pathways of his older bothers and family members. He has become a model for his younger siblings who were adopted by one of our moms.
Here I am with this 24 year old who is still very grateful for SOS. I thought about that in two ways: One, the ability to constantly be grateful and have that appreciation and [two] how often we forget that amongst ourselves and specifically within our organization. This is a moment of pause for the beauty and grace of how much we are all gifts to each other.
More importantly, the story of this 24 year old started with you folks and with every child who comes in: a child who is lost or forgotten, a child who has been dealing with the police and oftentimes the State and often coming out of a shelter, and a child whose life is in chaos. The first set of eyes that they see on this road to something new, this road that says that there IS hope, is the love in your eyes. In each of your eyes what you do and say begins to build over time. That [child’s] fear begins to transform into love. So this person who at one point in this child’s life looked like a stranger is soon called “Mom” and soon belongs to something more important. For that we truly have to be appreciative of what we do.
Making Hope Happen: Reflections from Board President Don Biernacki
I want to thank all of you, the parents who work so hard throughout the year who bring that hope to kids who come to you sometimes with no hope at all and no ability to dream or to trust that their dreams can come true. You help make that [hope] happen. It is not easy. It is hard, and you are making a difference every day.
My job outside of SOS takes me to the West Side and South Side where we are very much in the middle of a lot of the violence that’s going on and flooding our city today. When I go into those situations where there isn’t the ability for kids to hope and dream, so what happens is that they turn to violence for a lot of reasons, I think about what’s happening at SOS and the care and love that our kids are receiving from you. You are doing a marvelous thing. The Board truly appreciates it. We recognize you all the time and we’re always talking about you in amazement of what you do. Thank you for all you do.