Adopt-A-Night helps homeless in Libertyville shelters

  • From left, siblings Brady, Sophie and Ben Skinger of Barrington in 2016. Scott and Amy Skinger adopt Lake County Haven on Dec. 11, Sophie's birthday, to honor their daughter, who tragically lost her life in a car accident last September. Sophie cared about the homeless, Scott Skinger said, and had just bought breakfast for a homeless couple a few days before her accident.

    From left, siblings Brady, Sophie and Ben Skinger of Barrington in 2016. Scott and Amy Skinger adopt Lake County Haven on Dec. 11, Sophie's birthday, to honor their daughter, who tragically lost her life in a car accident last September. Sophie cared about the homeless, Scott Skinger said, and had just bought breakfast for a homeless couple a few days before her accident. Courtesy of the Skinger family

 
 
Updated 12/14/2021 3:31 PM

This holiday season, a Libertyville nonprofit agency has an idea for a gift that won't fit in any box and is priceless.

Lake County Haven is looking for "adopters" to help operate their two shelters for homeless women and children. The agency offers a unique giving opportunity called Adopt-A-Night to allow donors to help families 365 days a year.

 

Donors, either individually or as a group, club or business, can Adopt-A-Night for $250. The donations help pay for the daily costs of operating a homeless shelter, such as providing meals, keeping the lights on, and providing supportive services to residents.

More information can be found at lakecountyhaven.org.

Marybeth and Michael O'Shea of Lake Forest needed no convincing. The couple decided years ago to adopt two nights a year in honor of their daughters' birthdays. Their daughters, Caitlin, 14, and Phoebe, 8, love having Adopt-A-Night as part of their birthday celebrations, Marybeth O'Shea said, and she wants to keep the tradition going forever.

"I always heard a lot about how much good Lake County Haven was doing to assist women in need," O'Shea said. "When you see organizations that are supporting women to get back on their feet, that is an especially soft spot for our family. I have empathy for women who are working and just trying to do it all."

Donors can choose a special day, such as a favorite holiday, birthday or anniversary. Some adopt in honor or memory of a loved one. Donors even can choose to honor a celebrity figure. One donor this year adopted a night in honor of the Dalai Lama.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The adopter's name is displayed at one of Lake County Haven's two shelters on the date they adopted, as the patron. This lets the residents know that there are people in the community who care about them enough to really help. This means the world to homeless women, since they are so often isolated from others and feel that the world has forgotten them.

Adopters also are profiled on the agency social media and website, including a link to a business, personal or club website. The adopters also receive a Day-Of note explaining what happened at the shelter that day, such as a woman getting a job or a baby taking his or her first steps.

Scott Skinger and his wife, Amy, of Barrington began adopting to honor their daughter Sophie who tragically lost her life at age 16 in a traffic accident last September. They adopt her birthday, Dec. 11.

"My daughter felt compassion for the homeless," Scott Skinger said. "She was always the type to stick up for the underdog and those less fortunate."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Just days before her accident, Sophie was visiting her brother in Eugene, Oregon, where he went to college, and her family found out later that she had purchased breakfast at McDonald's for a homeless couple.

Skinger said Lake County Haven was a good fit, and seeing a homeless shelter operate in suburban Libertyville showed him that homelessness can and does affect all kinds of people.

"Everybody makes mistakes," he said. "It doesn't take much to become homeless."

Once Anthony Albano of Mundelein learned about Lake County Haven, it hit home for him. He began adopting to honor his mother, who raised him alone after a divorce. Some of the women residing at Haven also are raising children alone, and it's not an easy path.

"My dad was kind of an absentee father, and we had a pretty rough time," Albano said. "But I had a pretty good childhood. I think my mom did a good job of shielding me from it. But I reflect on that, and I don't see how she did it on the type of wages she was earning and the things she had to do to get by."

Adopting is as simple as going to Lake County Haven's website, lakecountyhaven.org, and providing a name and address, donation amount and date chosen to adopt.

Donors also can state how they would like their donation listing to read. If the gift is given in honor or memory of someone else, a donor can request a notification of the gift be sent to that person.

"It's a pretty nominal amount of money considering what it does," said O'Shea, who likes the idea of providing the meals and other necessities for a day. "This is special. You see wish lists and other things like that, but you don't see this kind of opportunity a lot."

Individual donations make up the majority of the support Lake County Haven receives, and such donations are needed now more than ever. In 2021, Lake County Haven opened a second shelter for women and children, which doubled the need for support.

"Those who adopt a night tell us that they get so much more in return," Executive Director Laura Sabino said. "It's a wonderful thing to do as a family. A lot of families have been fortunate, and they tell us that they want to give back."

O'Shea said she and her husband wanted to instill in their children the importance of giving back and being a contributing member of society. For the Skingers, adopting a night is a way to keep up with a cause that was dear to their daughter's heart.

For questions about Adopt-A-Night, email heidi@lakecountyhaven.org, call (224) 595-3921, or visit lakecountyhaven.org/get-involved/adopt-a-night.

• To submit Your news, go to dailyherald.com/share.