Each year, SOS Illinois looks forward to the opportunity the new year brings to reflect on the events that took place during the last twelve months. Once again, we are graciously overwhelmed by the successes of the youth in our care, all of which were made possible by the dedication and support of our friends, donors, and partners. Your help ensures that every challenge is met with optimism, every barrier overcome with determination, and every milestone celebrated with love.
2019 proved to be eventful and inspiring in so many ways. As the New Year continues to unfold, we invite you to look back on ten of these highlights that celebrate the diversity of accomplishments, emboldened by you. Each highlight emphasizes the pivotal ways we are working together to break new ground in foster care – one landmark moment at a time. We thank you for generously giving of your time, love, talents, and resources in 2019. We cannot wait to celebrate our 30 years of transforming lives of children in foster care in 2020 — together!
#10: Empowering Creativity
SOS Illinois Board Members, Corporate Partners, and friends helped spark creativity through interactive projects with our children and families. This included creating “heart art” with Radisson Hotels, designing floral arrangements with Board Member Laurie Holmes, creating “on-hold” music for telephone systems with PHMG, sailing Lake Michigan with the Chicago Yacht Club, paddling a canoe at summer camp, cultivating culinarians with Swissôtel Chicago, discovering painting with Nancy Wolfe (wife of SOS Illinois Board President), and much more. Thank you for enriching our Villages in so many ways!
#9: Vines to Villages Sets the Table for Dining & Conversation
In September, SOS Illinois joined Chris Benziger of Benziger Family Winery for “Vines to Villages.” Hosted by Snaidero at 210 Design House, a stunning luxury kitchen cabinet showroom in River North, Vines to Villages invited the evening’s guests to learn more about SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, and enjoy an exclusive reception and premier wine showing, an educational and engaging presentation of vintage wines by Chris Benziger, as well as hearing about Dining & Conversation, sponsored by Sodexo, taking place in spring 2020.
#8: SOS Illinois Youth and Alumni Shine
Once again, SOS Illinois celebrated a 100% high school graduation rate compared to the national average of 50% of youth in foster care. In July, we celebrated our kindergartners, 8th grade graduates and those completing high school at our 3rd All-Village Graduation Ceremony. Additionally, SOS Illinois alumni offered their voices, encouragement, and wisdom back to our community throughout 2019. Whether speaking at fundraising events, attending press interviews, or being honored as a community hero, SOS Illinois alumni made our community proud in 2019. We happily shine a spotlight on our graduates and two young men, Tevin and Juan, who are generous, hard-working, and caring individuals always willing to support our mission.
#7: Major Foster Parenting Milestones Achieved
Throughout 2019, Foster Parents at SOS Illinois celebrated tremendous milestones in offering loving care to sibling groups at our three Villages. Sandra Marbeth celebrated fostering her 50th child, Minnie Reed retired after 24 years of service, Jenny Wray shared her first-hand account of reunification, Greg Harris revealed why he chose to serve his country and his community, Elizabeth Hope gave thanks to our amazing donors and corporate partners, and our Foster Moms made history in March. Their legacies and influence inspire our community.
#6: Record-breaking Fundraising
As the result of the year’s successful special events and generous corporate partners, SOS Illinois celebrated record-breaking fundraising in 2019. In particular, Dining & Conversation, Evening of Hope, the Related Lendlease Golf Classic, and the Chicago Regatta brought in transformational financial support for our programs and services. We are happy to report we were given Charity Navigator’s highest rating of 4 Stars and GuideStar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency. We are truly grateful for the support of partners who help us make lasting change in our homes, Villages, and throughout the Chicagoland communities that surround our sites.
#5: New Website Launched
Through a partnership with world-renowned design firm, ArtVersion, SOS Illinois launched a fully optimized, updated website in summer 2019. This new website makes it easier than ever to learn about our mission, get involved with our community, and lend your voice to our cause. With our new site, SOS Illinois has been able to share engaging stories about the successes of our community and highlight the incredible work of our children, Foster Parents, staff, donors, and much more.
#4: Three Cheers for the Chicago Bears
SOS Illinois celebrated the Chicago Bears 100 Years with three cheers. Children and families were treated to on-site visits from Akiem Hicks and Deon Bush, and a Bears Care Holiday Party. The players enjoyed activities with the children and offered wisdom on being empowered, staying strong, and working hard.
#3: OneRepublic Promotes the “Good Life” for SOS Illinois
This November, Enterprise and OneRepublic put on an epic, one-night-only show benefiting three select charities, including SOS Illinois. The audience was made up of all specially-selected guests invited to celebrate the ways they inspire and uplift others, including SOS Illinois Alum, Tevin Marbeth. The band created a special video launched for the world to see, and shared how Tevin’s commitment to children in foster care has made him someone who promotes the “Good Life.”
#2 Ground Breaks at Roosevelt Square Community Center
SOS Illinois hit a major milestone in the Roosevelt Square Community Center Project when staff, Board Members, partners, and project supporters gathered to break ground in June. In addition to the families cared for at the Roosevelt Square Village, more than 5,000 people from the surrounding neighborhoods will be served by the center. Construction began in early September, and significant work has been done to lay the foundation for a center that will transform lives and the communities surrounding it. Enjoy learning about the project as the building takes shape with our monthly construction updates, where we highlight the architect, construction work, donors, and more.
#1: “Voices 4 Foster Care” Amplifies our Mission
The #Voices4FosterCare Campaign, kicked off by Academy Award winning actor Christian Bale, invited Dining & Conversation participants to join us in raising a collective voice for foster care. Celebrity and esteemed guests joined the conversation during afternoon and evening events, and helped us share our mission with over a half million people through social media, news coverage, and more. The day’s events included a special luncheon at Snaidero – 210 Design House, a media event at Cinespace Chicago, a meet and greet with Foster Parents, a VIP Reception, a visit from Mayor Lightfoot, and the main event, Dining & Conversation.
Immense Gratitude for a Successful 2019
Thank you to all of our sponsors, corporate partners, Board Members, staff, and individual supporters and friends for all that you contributed in 2019. We cannot fulfill our mission without you. We look forward to having you join us in 2020 for continued hard work and successes.