Helping the Helpers: Shelter, Inc. continues to help kids and families in need during pandemic
The pandemic added additional challenges to the important work done by Shelter, Inc., an Arlington Heights-based child welfare agency. Among other services, it provides emergency and longer-term housing for children and adolescents who are abused, neglected, dependent or in need of supervision.
Since 1975, Shelter, Inc. has worked to end the cycle of child abuse by providing a comprehensive network of support.
The Daily Herald checked in with Patricia Cinquini, the agency's communications and grants manager, to learn more.
Q. Who does your agency serve, and how do you serve them?
A. We serve children and families in need in the Chicago metropolitan area. We have two emergency homes for children ages 11-17 who are homeless due to abuse or neglect or those who need supervision. Our foster care programs include emergency, traditional, and home-of-relative. The Transitional Living Program is a two-year residential program for males 17-21 who are aging out of the child welfare system. Healthy Families is an abuse prevention home visitation program for first-time and at-risk families. Our newest program is Youth Experiencing Homelessness for youths ages 14-24. Shelter also has a community referral service and hotline.
Q. From where do the majority of your donations come?
A. Government funding, corporate and foundation grants, and individual contributions from the community.
Q. Is there an annual fundraising event?
A. There is an annual Golf Outing (set for) Sept. 23, an annual Gala Nov. 20, a 5K Run/Walk 4 Kidz, and more.
Q. About how many people per year does your agency help?
A. Over 1,500.
Q. How has the COVID-19 crisis affected Shelter, Inc. and its ability to help those in need?
A. Thanks to our courageous essential workers, all of our programs have remained open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The majority of those we serve are low-income and have been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to our caring community, Shelter has been able to provide critical items and assistance to those in need. Our greatest challenges are ahead. Once the schools reopen, the veil will be lifted from child abuse that dramatically increased since the stay-at-home isolation was first implemented. The need for foster families will significantly increase. As all social service agencies, Shelter is closely monitoring Illinois' application for federal grant funding. Without it, there will be no room in the state budget for social services.
Q. How can readers help?
A. There are many ways readers can help children and families in need, including making monetary and in-kind donations, participating in events, volunteering, and following us on social media. Readers who are interested in becoming a foster family are encouraged to learn more. Those 18 and older can have a tremendous impact by voting in November for federal, state, and local representatives who advocate for children. All information can be found on our website at www.shelter-inc.org, or by calling (847) 255-8060.
Q. If someone is in need of your organization's help or has questions, what should they do?
A. Shelter staff can be reached 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (847) 255-8060 for those seeking housing, supportive services, or other community resources. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Anything else you'd like readers to know about Shelter, Inc.?
A. Shelter remains the only agency in Illinois to provide fully comprehensive and community-based services for children and their families at risk and in need. Our vision is that all children will grow up in safe and loving homes, and when we all work together, we can make this a reality.
About this series: Helping the Helpers
"Helping the Helpers" is a series of short stories on how you can support suburban social service agencies impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Know of a nonprofit or agency we should feature? Email email@example.com.