In April, Children’s Home & Aid’s Deborah Whitted passed away suddenly. Staff who worked with Deborah gathered in May to dedicate a garden at the Marshfield office in her honor. Deborah had been working in foster care in Illinois since 2003 and came to Children’s Home & Aid in 2012 through the programs from Hull House that closed.

At the May dedication of the garden in Deborah’s name, staff spoke of their fondest memories, along with what they will miss most about Deborah.

Case manager Rebecca Powers describes Deborah as one of the first friendly faces she encountered when starting at this agency two years ago.

“Deborah was a constant in my employment as Marshfield. She went with me on my very first home visit and answered my many questions. No matter what we were going through or where we were, Deborah always had a reassuring look on her face and got us through it,” says Rebecca.

“We talked about so much, anything and everything. When I was excited about something, stressed, mad or overwhelmed – I turned to her. There have been so many car rides home where we would call each other just to vent about our days. Deborah inspired me to be a better person, more patient, more family-oriented, part of the team and part of the change for good. She will be so greatly missed,” Rebecca continued.

Deborah worked at Marshfield as a foster care licensing coordinator. For years Deborah developed and maintained training and support programs for foster parents, reviewed licensing applications for potential foster parents, checked in on foster children and much more. Beyond her work at Children’s Home & Aid, Deborah was a wonderful mother and worked in child welfare services for years even before moving to Illinois.

Vice President of Child Welfare Services Melissa Ludington spent years working alongside Deborah and says she was extremely dedicated to the children and families she served. “She spent days and sometimes nights visiting children’s homes – sometimes even visiting hospitals and accompanying youth to new foster homes. She provided comfort during many difficult transitions.”

Melissa continued, “She always brought a feeling of calmness regardless of the situation; she had so much passion for children and families and thought of them first.”

Children’s Home & Aid President and CEO Nancy Ronquillo said Deborah’s passion is the perfect example of what this agency strives for. “Her spirit, her caring, and her devotion mirrors and exemplifies Children’s Home & Aid’s mission and what we aim to be,” Nancy stated. “This garden will continue to grow and share beauty as a tribute to Deborah’s lasting impact.”