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posted: 7/27/2013 8:00 AM

Barrington-area agency needs help helping others

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  • Vocalists from Chicago-based Harmony, Hope & Healing will perform at a fundraising concert for Family Service of the Barrington Area on Aug. 18.

      Vocalists from Chicago-based Harmony, Hope & Healing will perform at a fundraising concert for Family Service of the Barrington Area on Aug. 18.
    courtesy of Harmony, Hope & Healing

  • Harmony, Hope & Healing will perform at a fundraising concert for Family Service of the Barrington Area.

      Harmony, Hope & Healing will perform at a fundraising concert for Family Service of the Barrington Area.
    courtesy of Harmony, Hope & Healing


Every so often, a helper needs help.

For 47 years, Family Service of the Barrington Area has provided a comprehensive range of counseling and referral services for people living within Barrington Unit District 220.

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But due to its policy of charging only what its clients can afford, the agency receives only about 10 percent of its annual operating budget from those clients.

For the other 90 percent, fundraising and donations from those who recognize the agency's value are required.

But even then, Family Service officials want their donors to walk away as satisfied as their clients.

The agency will host a fundraising performance by the Chicago-based vocal ensemble Harmony, Hope & Healing at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, at Barrington United Methodist Church, 98 Algonquin Road in Barrington Hills.

Harmony, Hope & Healing has an inspiring story all its own. For more than a decade, the vocal group has been made up of women and men who are both present and past clients of homeless shelters and community outreach centers in Chicago.

The group performs about 30 outreach concerts each year, has recorded CDs and been featured on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight."

While Harmony, Hope & Healing will be paid a flat amount from the Aug. 18 performance, the rest of the money raised will be used to see Family Service of the Barrington Area through another year.

There's no set amount for donations, but longtime volunteer and supporter Dyllis Braithwaite said she hopes most attendees will be thinking in the range of $100 -- even more if they can afford it.

Though fundraising has successfully kept the agency alive for nearly half a century, there was a bleak period three or four years ago when it appeared the service would have to leave Barrington, President Karen Kabbes said.

The recession helped prove such a crisis could occur -- and when people needed help the most -- but Kabbes said she's hoping not to face such a dilemma again in the near future.

While some Barrington-area clients are able to be donors as well, other residents take advantage of their ability to afford private counselors which cuts them out of the agency's financial pool.

No one is turned away from Family Service, but clients' ability to pay is based on their employment status, salary and the number of people in their family, Social Worker Joyce Wisniewski said.

She described the agency as one able to help people from birth to death -- assisting with issues affecting children, teens, adults and seniors.

Such issues can involve traumas, addictions, mental health and much more hard to categorize problems like difficulty adjusting to parenthood, Wisniewski said.

Clients' stories are never shared without their permission, she stressed. But there are plenty of success stories that can be told -- like that of a young man just out of Barrington High School who was struggling with family issues that included a younger brother's suicide. He has since become a graduate student at Stanford University.

Each case contributes to a counselor's strengths and his or her ability to help the next client, Wisniewski said.

"As counselors, we're privileged to be allowed into people's lives and walk their journey with them," she said.

Family Service of the Barrington Area is officially a division of the more than 80-year-old Family Service based in Highland Park, but operates largely independently.

For more information about the agency, visit the website at

No reservations are required to attend the Aug. 18 performance of Harmony, Hope & Healing. Light refreshments and fellowship will follow the hourlong concert.

For more information about the concert, contact Barrington United Methodist Church at (847) 836-5540.

Help: Organization will host fundraiser on Aug. 18

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