WHO WE ARE
Hope, Help and Healing for a Brighter Tomorrow
Q: What does Spero mean?
A: Pronounced \\spā-rō\\ – Spero is Italian for “I hope.” It is part of the Latin proverb “As I breath, I hope.”
Q: What has changed?
A: Our name is all that has changed. Our mission, vision and values remain the same. We still provide the same quality programs and services to the children and families we serve.
Q: Why did your name change?
A: To better reflect the nature of the work we do and those we serve. We have ten programs throughout the area that serve children and families in many Southern Illinois communities. We believe Spero Family Services better reflects this.
Q: Do you still have a connection to the Methodist Church?
A: Yes! Our affiliation with the United Methodist Church and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference is not changing. Our commitment to being a faith-based, Christ-centered organization is not changing.
Q: What does the new name and logo mean?
A: “Spero” is the Latin word for “I hope”. The new name speaks to our most core value of providing hope, and is pronounced like the English word sparrow, and ties us specifically to our faith, as shown by this scripture verse – “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19. The top of the anchor is a cross; at the bottom a sparrow’s head –its wings intertwined with the anchor. This represents the very heart of what we believe, and who we are today. The rising anchor is a symbol for Hope.
The original children’s home was first opened for the reception of children on February 1, 1913, with its first location in Creal Springs, IL. On February 18, 1920, one of the main buildings was destroyed by fire, and a decision was made to relocate.
The Orphan’s & Children’s Home of the Southern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was then relocated from Creal Springs, IL to its present location in Mt. Vernon, IL in October of 1921. The Jefferson County location consisted of 25 acres of land and a large two story home known as the Tanner House. The home was built in 1866 and at the time of relocation, housed all of the children and the superintendent.
In 1923, a dormitory was built providing ward-type sleeping arrangements. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, many of the children served were orphans. By the 1960’s both the youth in residence and the facilities changed as society changed. The reduction in the number of true orphans was the most significant difference in the children referred for care. In their place, an even more tragic type of referral, became prevalent treatment for young victims of physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Housing was constructed to provide “family” type living to replace the institution setting. Through the 1970’s and 1980’s, new concepts were introduced that emphasized the need for teaching social skills and appropriate actions administered by family teachers and assistants.
With the introduction of federal assistance into the child welfare system in the early 1990’s, the focus moved from family teaching to a mental health treatment perspective. While the child welfare system reached all time high case load numbers in the mid 1990’s, the late 1990’s saw the beginning of a drastic reduction in the number of children in care throughout the State of Illinois. We responded to this trend by focusing more programming toward community needs to fulfill our mission.
In 1996 the United Methodist Children’s Home Foundation was formed to both oversee the endowment fund and assist with fund raising to supplement the Home’s revenue. A capital campaign was undertaken by the Foundation in 1998 for a two phase building project. Phase one consisting of an activity room which also served as a Chapel and office space was completed in 1999. The William H. Dennison Chapel Complex, phase two, was completed in 2003 providing a beautiful Chapel and a versatile conference room.
UMCH has continued to address the needs of children, youth and families in our communities in Southern Illinois. During the Fiscal Year of 2015-2016, services were provided to 850 youth, individuals, and families.
Spero Family Services offers hope, help, and healing by providing Christ-centered human services to meet the ever-changing needs of individuals, families, and communities.
Honoring God, we envision communities where people are physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.
OUR CORE VALUES
We serve others following the example of Christ Jesus.
We are ethical, honest, transparent and accountable.
With an open mind, we value and honor everyone as a unique child of God.
We are committed to lasting, life improving outcomes.
We believe the center of a healthy life is a rich network of love and support.
Click the button below to view our Annual and Financial Reports.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
* Ex-Officio Members with vote
** Ex-Officio Members without vote
Ms. Lisa Price, Board Chairperson
Mr. Tony Wielt, Vice Chairperson
Ms. Carol Hamerski, Treasurer
Rev. Victor Long, Secretary
Ms. Julie Webb
Dr. Steven Scott
Mr. Gail White
Dr. John Hatton
Rev. Mark Minor
Mr. Bruce Stennis
Mr. Dick Deitz
Ms. Jamie Armstrong
Ms. Brooke Guthman
Ms. Rose Straeter
Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin *
Mr. Mike Morris
Mr. Brett Hall
Ms. Jeannie Mitchell
Ms. Cheryl Settle
Ms. Rae DeLao
Ms. Bunny Wolfe *
John Shadowens **
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