SOS Emergency Fund fosters resilience.
Celina and her five children lived with her mother in a small house. By working 30 hours a week, Celina was able to maintain the family. Her mother’s social security paid for the rent.
When her mother died, Celina talked to her school social worker about options for housing. She could remain at her mother’s home for two more weeks. The social worker was successful in getting her on a waiting list for a shelter, but not within the two week time period. When Celina asked, “Where can I go?” the SOS Fund housed her family for three days at Eastland Suites and arranged a meeting with Restoration Urban Ministries where she later moved.
According to Barb Daly, Assistant Superintendent at Regional Office of Education (ROE) #9, “Homelessness does not exist just in the grown-up world of streets and shelters.” During the 2016-2017 school years, 630 students were documented as homeless in Champaign County. Daly says, “Homelessness is lived in lunchroom and libraries, in science labs and math classes, or while perched at a tiny desk trying to learn to read.”
When school personnel learn a family is homeless they fill out a homeless referral and share it with the appropriate school district staff and the ROE. Once the family is documented as homeless using federal guidelines, the SOS Fund can provide immediate assistance in the form of 3-7 hotel nights and basic clothing. Daly adds, “The SOS Fund changes the path for homeless families. If the SOS Fund did not exist, many homeless families would have no relief from extremely stressful situations and unsafe conditions.”
Over the last eight years, our SOS fund has provided assistance to more than 1,100 homeless students in Champaign-Urbana. Through a joint application, the Regional Office of Education and the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation receive funds to support these students from the United Way of Champaign County. We have also received generous support from Carle Foundation, PNC, Bank of Rantoul and Kiwanis, along with individual donations.
This program is generously supported by the United Way of Champaign County.
Additional support provided by: