All roads lead to home.
We’re excited to feature SOS Children’s Villages Illinois on our mural. This nonprofit, child-welfare agency provides a stable home in a supportive, community environment designed to help children in need grow into caring, productive, and self-reliant adults. You can find SOS Children’s Villages across the world, as the organization was founded in Austria in response to the displacement of children after World War II.
The inspiration for this mural is based on a shared story that, for many, begins with young, vulnerable lives that have endured abuse or abandonment. The “All Roads Lead to Home” theme of the mural focuses on bringing much-needed awareness to the nearly 500,000 children in foster care in the U.S. We wanted to highlight SOS Illinois’ Village model of care, an innovative approach to traditional foster care. The model keeps brothers and sisters together in the care of a full-time, professional foster parent, living as a family in a single-family home and surrounded with an intentional community of support that includes onsite case management, and therapeutic, academic, and recreational services. The Village lays the foundation for rebuilding trust, confidence, and hope for each child.
Through imagery that spans across multiple mural panels, we highlight children growing up and the journey of a family coming together. We include a car traveling down a road against the Chicago skyline and next to the SOS Children’s Villages buildings. Currently, the organization operates four sites: three Villages providing sibling group foster care at an 18-home Village in Lockport, Illinois; a 19-home Village in the Auburn Gresham, Englewood neighborhood of Chicago; a 14-home Village in the Roosevelt Square Community of Chicago; as well as Casa Tepeyac, a facility that offers preventative and in-home services in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago.
The bright colors in the artwork show the happy family dynamic the Villages foster and the opportunity for kids to be engaged in the world around them, while still maintaining the support of a stable family unit. In addition to providing safe, loving homes, SOS Children’s Villages also provide the resources needed to help children heal and achieve their permanency goals. Whether brothers and sisters are living in our Villages, or moving to their forever homes, SOS Illinois is there for every milestone.
Wintrust is proud to be a long-time supporter of SOS Children’s Villages, and our CEO & Founder Ed Wehmer explains, “SOS (Illinois) is a light under a bushel basket. My personal philosophy is you have to give kids a leg up. If you can give someone a leg up, you can change just one life . . . you can’t get a better feeling than that.” Together we are working to strengthen families, stabilize communities, and build the future of foster care.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and May is Foster Care Awareness Month, so we hope to build awareness of these initiatives with SOS Children’s Villages Illinois’ #Voices4FosterCare campaign. One of the ways to get involved is by being a social ambassador and influencer. You can download their 2020 Social Influencer Tool Kit that includes 10 different opportunities to get involved, key dates, and plenty of information to share with your networks. These opportunities offer different levels of commitment, which allows you to support in a way that works with your schedule.
The results of this model are so impactful. SOS Children’s Villages Illinois celebrates a 100% high school graduation rate, compared to a national average of 50% for children in foster care. In November 2015, Chicago Magazine named SOS Children’s Villages Illinois one of the “Best Charities in Chicago.”
We hope this mural helps raise awareness about the organizations dedicated to building the future of foster care in our communities. It follows SOS Children’s Villages’ evolving story: one of hope, persistence, and safety. We aim to show that regardless of the road traveled, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois will continue to advocate for and support children and families in pursuit of a forever home. “All roads lead to home” is not just a catchphrase, but a promise they have been keeping for 30 years.
For more information on SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, please visit sosillinois.org.