Throughout 2018, we are celebrating 135 years of meeting every child, every family, where their need is greatest. Doing whatever it takes so children and families can thrive. We are proud of our legacy of meeting the changing needs of vulnerable families throughout Illinois and inspired by the children and families we serve and their stories of resilience. The stories of our staff, volunteers and supporters are building bright futures and crafting new stories for those we serve. Their passion and dedication act as a springboard to new opportunities, new connections and new successes for every child and family.

Sharon, clinical case manager in Granite City, Illinois has been working at Children’s Home & Aid for nearly 20 years. She started working with us as a volunteer secretary while pursuing a Master of Art Therapy and Counseling at McKendree University. Sharon later secured a practicum with the Adoption & Guardianship Preservation program.

After graduation, we were excited to hire Sharon to work in adoption preservation and she has been part of our team ever since. Building a family through adoption can present many unique challenges. Adoptive families may experience issues that differ from biologically created families in significant ways. Sharon and the adoption preservation team help families whose adopted children are experiencing adjustment issues. “Using tools like art therapy, we build relationships with our clients to help them understand that behaviors like stealing or lying are common reactions to trauma. Our team is well-equipped to help parents understand their child’s attachment or trust issues, what those behaviors are an expression of and where they’re coming from.”

Sharon has a unique way of remembering and preserving her journey of helping families. She keeps every appointment book she’s had since she started working here in 1999. The books keep records of every part of Sharon’s life at Children’s Home & Aid, from client appointments to graduate school classes to deadlines and meetings.

Over the years, the books began to pile up in Sharon’s office as each appointment book was filled. “If you ask me a therapeutic reason for why I’ve done this, I’m not sure I can give you an answer, but it’s fascinating to go back and look.” Sharon’s appointment books are filled with creativity—drawing from her art background.

The books remind Sharon of clients she might’ve otherwise forgotten. “The truth is that you sometimes forget how many clients and families you’ve worked with over the years. These books provide me with something tangible to look back on and say ‘wow I did all of that!’”

Looking back at the appointment books—filled with years of meetings with clients and coworkers—gives Sharon more than a sense of accomplishment. They remind her of the time, hope, and energy she’s spent to help clients and families take a step forward in their lives. For now, Sharon plans to keep the books in a safe place, but one day hopes to use her art background to do something more creative with them.