Children and families in need on the North Shore have found support through the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston since the early 1900’s when volunteers began attending to needs in the community before the organization formally became established in 1946. Now, deeply rooted in the community, the organization and its volunteers continue to provide urgent assistance and ongoing support to those in the community who are working toward independence.
As Kenilworth Union Church liaisons to the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston, Maria Fowkes and Jeannie Miles are champions for the well-being of children and families served by the agency. For Maria, the connection first came as her children moved on from elementary school, and she knew she had more to give back to younger families in the area. For Jeannie, it was at the invitation of another Church member, Susan Resko, that she became aware of the need.
After becoming a liaison, Maria found an open door for further engagement with the Society as a volunteer. She has since gone in weekly to hold and care for babies of local single mothers and a few high school-aged mothers who rely on the organization’s day care service. “Prior to this I didn’t have a handle on what the liaison did,” she explained. “I didn’t understand the deep connection that the liaison provides. It was through being a liaison that I decided I wanted to volunteer at Infant Welfare.”
Jeannie is looking into avenues to bring her expertise as a Duke Integrative Health Coach to the Society, and encourages others with special talents or gifts to consider sharing them as well—either with this agency or with other agencies support by Kenilworth Union. “I had no idea before how many worthy agencies throughout Chicago and the suburbs count on our support so they can provide outstanding services to their constituents,” she said. “I think the important thing for our members to know is how broad and deep a reach our Church has in the philanthropic community in Chicago and how appreciative these organizations are for our support.”
Volunteer needs at the Infant Welfare Society are continuously evolving, and anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to contact Maria or Jeannie who can put them in touch with the agency.
Volunteers are needed to bring a talent to the classrooms, whether a puppet show, musical performance, or similar throughout the year. Volunteers may serve food or do an activity with families at monthly evening group sessions through the Family Support Program, serve on the events committee, provide office support with twice-yearly mailings, assist with media production and communications, or coordinate drives for diapers and children’s books, among other opportunities. In addition, summer classroom assistants may be needed in coming months.