United Way contributions aid local agencies
Foster homes are found for children, shelter is provided for troubled teens, and adults of all ages find the help they need through local agencies supported by the United Way/Crusade of Mercy.
Many social-service agencies in Hyde Park-South Kenwood and nearby neighborhoods receive support through the University's Campaign for the United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities. This year, the University hopes to raise $240,000 for charitable organizations.
United Way contributions are directed to the Chicago United Way/Crusade of Mercy, an independent organization governed by local volunteers. More than 90 percent of the organization's funds go directly to agencies that assist the poor, the homeless and the ill and provide such services as day-care programs and alcohol- and drug-abuse counseling.
One local beneficiary of the Campaign for the United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities is the Chicago Child Care Society, which offers a wide range of assistance to children and families. The society finds adoptive homes for children and offers counseling for pregnant adolescents. It also arranges foster care, provides child-care services and family and individual counseling, and helps address parenting problems.
"One of our success stories is a single mother who was working as a waitress when she came to us," said Rochelle Friedman, director of the society's Child and Family Development Center. "A young child in the family was withdrawn, depressed and had separation problems. We were able to work through the child's withdrawn behavior in the classroom and her rage as expressed in therapy. We also supported the mother in returning to school. When the family left us, the mother was finishing her master's degree and the child's depression had lifted."
Like the Chicago Child Care Society, the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club depends substantially on funding generated through the United Way's annual campaign, including the University's Campaign for the United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities.
"United Way funding is crucial for our operation," said Kathy Kloppenburg, executive director of the Neighborhood Club. "It provides a solid base of support, with just under 20 percent of our budget coming from the annual campaign."
Among the services offered by the Neighborhood Club are Headstart, a program for preschoolers from economically disadvantaged families; an after-school day-care program for children ages 5 through 12; and a drop-in program for teen-agers. The club also has programs for senior citizens, including noon meals, social activities, employment assistance and an adult day-care program.
Another Hyde Park agency that benefits greatly from United Way/Crusade of Mercy is the Blue Gargoyle, where funds from the United Way support a volunteer tutoring program staffed by University students.
"We have between 400 and 500 students from the University who volunteer as tutors each year," said Barbara Cramer, executive director of the Blue Gargoyle. The volunteers work with about 500 students, most of whom are between the ages of 6 and 12. They tutor at Hyde Park neighborhood schools and at Chicago Public Housing projects. The University volunteers help the students with their homework and also provide the companionship many students need."
Area young people also benefit from the Chicago Home & Aid Society, which operates a group home in Hyde Park for troubled teen-age boys. The home serves boys between the ages of 12 and 18 and provides individual, group and family therapy. The majority of the boys have experienced multiple traumas, and such experiences may interfere with their functioning at home, in school and in the community.
Chicago Home & Aid Society works with local schools on educational programs for the boys, and it provides a safe and supportive environment in the group home. The agency works to reunite families when possible.
Through the University's United Way/Crusade of Mercy and Other Charities Campaign, faculty and staff may support any charity they choose, including the more than 400 United Way agencies and any other established charity.
Details on how to contribute to the campaign have been mailed to University employees. Options include lump-sum donations and payroll deductions. With the Trendsetter plan, designed for first-time donors, individuals contribute $1 per week. With the Leadership and Leadership Plus plans, individuals can contribute a specific percentage of their monthly income.