What does it mean to “love your neighbor”?

Categories: Events

Loving your neighbor.

What does that look like today and how do we even get started?

Photo credit: LeVern A. Danley III

With decades of work in the community, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago held its inaugural DuPage County Impact Breakfast in Glen Ellyn on May 16, 2023. The event was an opportunity to highlight collaborations across the organization and fundraise for the Strong Families program – which is experiencing a gap in planned funding for the fiscal year.

In DuPage County, the program addresses child abuse prevention by working one-on-one with families through:

  • free, in-home mentoring
  • parent education workshops
  • leadership programming
  • group connections
  • outreach

Need for these services was already high prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 really exacerbated the issue. In fact, Strong Families currently maintains a waitlist of roughly 70-100 parents, school districts, and other community partners asking for immediate help. We’ve witnessed firsthand how severely children and teens are experiencing decreased social and emotional development/skills.

Despite resource constraints, this critical work has continued. Throughout the pandemic, staff continued to address the fluctuating needs of families. From personally dropping off necessities like food and diapers to securing formal partnerships that got vaccinations to the neighborhoods most at-risk—staff pivoted as seamlessly as they could. It was beautiful to watch while simultaneously reminding all of us that those resources need to overlap to make sure we all can make it through. Imagine what could be done with consistent (and increased) financial support at all levels…

“We focus on the 5 protective factors that research resoundingly informs us that when these factors exist within a family it exponentially increases the success of family and reduces stress and abuse. 98% of our families report significant reduction in stress and increased abilities to be resilient. We need to support and love each other. It is why we are here.” – Peggy McGuire, Director of Child and Family Development

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, but we need your help to do more. Our waitlists can’t close without funders like you. This allows us to increase not only the number of staff members available, but also the systems in place to maintain our quality, human-centered approach.  It costs us approximately $2,000 to serve each family over the course of a year with our Parent Mentor program alone.

Why do systems matter?

The event’s keynote speaker, Chris Singleton, demonstrates it beautifully with his own life story. At the breakfast, he closed his discussion by asking attendees to stand up and tell someone else that doesn’t look like them “I love you.” While it made people smile, it also reinforced his message of unity through connection. So many times, the conflict we find ourselves in could be addressed by taking just a moment to step back and acknowledge our neighbor for the meaningful human being that they are. In doing so, we purposely expose ourselves to differences so that we don’t react based on prejudice or hate out of fear. These social-emotional skills are essential to have and retain for children and adults alike.

During this inaugural event, it was an honor to not only connect with current supporters, but also to share our work in DuPage County with more of our immediate neighbors. If you’d like to support our Strong Families program, there are two immediate ways: