Two Baby Fold/Festival of Trees Interns Graduate!
June 2nd, 2011

ISU’s Brittany Trussell and IWU’s Amber Spiewak graduated this May!  These special ladies were both volunteer Interns within the Development and Public Relations department, coming to us with a specific desire to serve in the “events planning” realm. For the grand finale of their interning - each Intern served in a leadership role for Festival of Trees and as a liaison to another specialty area or event.  They more than fulfilled their roles at The Baby Fold!  These ladies each served over an extended time, not just one semester!  They loved their roles at work -that business of making a difference and not standing idle is important to volunteers/interns.  We instill a work ownership ethic too:  they need to work around their needs as students…that education comes first and keeping open communication on what’s happening - with commitments and deadlines.  Lastly and more importantly – our interns tell us they love the “why” they do this: they take it upon their hearts and work for the outcome - for our children and families!    We are so proud of these ladies and miss them tremendously!  We wish them well as they have started their “after school” lives and moved on out into the “real” world!

TBF Intern for D&PR, ISU Grad after tonight!
May 6th, 2011

Brittany Trussell graduates tonight, Friday, May 6, 2011 from the College of Communication with ISU - with a Bachelor of Science degree – majoring in Public Relations.  Her bright smile and all of her enthusiastiasm will be tremendously missed at The Baby Fold.  She started out as the Events Coordinator’s intern mainly for Festival of Trees, but soon became a friend and someone the whole department of Development and Public Relations could depend upon.  Thank you Tom Lamonica from ISU for recommending Brittany!  Congratulations and best wishes go out to Brittany as she starts a new journey!!

Getting involved with Festival of Trees
May 2nd, 2011

I love The Baby Fold’s Festival of Trees and the community it celebrates.  How do I get involved?

Each and every year, we hear someone say “I would love to be a part of Festival, but I’ve  never been asked to help.”  Consider this your official call to action!  Festival is successful because of the hundreds of dedicated volunteers, designers, and sponsors just like you.  An event as large as Festival takes year-round planning and we could sure use your help!

Your gifts of varied talents, personalities, skills and creative abilities pull together for our mission statement to ring true: to create awareness of the needs of our most vulnerable children and their families, to raise funding for their needs and to create a wonderful holiday event for our community.

We can use your help for one hour a day, one hour a week, or one hour a year. We are also always looking for volunteers, for Leaders and for new Steering Committee members to bring new ideas to our event to keep it fresh and new. If you are interested in joining our Festival family – please connect by phone: 309.451.7206 or check us out online at www.festoftrees.org or www.Facebook.com/festoftrees.

Festival of Trees Designer/Volunteer Recruitment Party (April 16)
March 30th, 2011


What:  The Festival of Trees Designer/Volunteer Recruitment Party

Hosted by: The Baby Fold and Jeffrey Alans

When: Saturday, April 16th with 2 Sessions: 9:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Where: The Baby Fold’s Training Center @ 612 Oglesby Avenue, Normal, IL 61761
(with optional tour of The Baby Fold to follow each segment)

Ever wondered how you can get involved with the Festival of Trees? This recruitment event is the perfect chance to learn more about the festival and get ideas on how you can participate.

We will be hosting two sessions: one for those who like to sleep in on Saturday and one for those who can’t wait to get the day started!  You’ll enjoy festive non-alcoholic drinks, door prize drawings, teaching segments, folks on hand to assist… and great fun! You’ll also have a chance to sign up for decorating that tree you’ve had in the back of your mind – or maybe a showcase, wreath, centerpiece or Gingerbread creation.   You can learn how to lend your talents as a volunteer for Festival in a number of ways - become a leader by taking on a project, sign on as a committee member, special event’s chair or dress up in costume and help out in our special area just for kids!

Now is the time. It takes many volunteers to make this holiday event happen and we are looking for you!  Call or email your RSVP today:

Call Di @ 309.451.7206 or email her @ dshepherd@thebabyfold.org

Festival looking for volunteers of all kinds
March 10th, 2011

Festival of Trees (FOT) –  We Need You:

Volunteering: Need Volunteer Leaders.
We seek enthusiastic Leaders to recruit volunteers who will staff Festival of Trees in a variety of ways.  There is a “legacy” to follow so nothing need be recreated and returning committee members.  Although contacts are provided, we ask that you continue to develop and expand our partnerships and seek new opportunities.
Seeking additional committee members to form fun, creative subcommittees – for exple: a committee to seek sponsorships for snacks/light refreshments for our volunteers during Festival.
This is a win-win for many organizations looking to provide service work.

Presentation: Looking for leaders AND followers!!
The Baby Fold is in need of volunteers to lead and/or sit on a committee for the Presentation area of The Festival of Trees.  Your task is to “help” create the overall look and feel of the Festival of Trees – from the moment you walk in the door, until the moment you have to leave. You help to create the experience for our guests!

Operations – Need the worker bees:
Work closely with Operations Manager and Events Person(s).  Will  partner in overseeing all operations of venue as well as move in/load out dates.   Works closely with each area to see that their needs are addressed

For more information, please contact Di Shepherd at (309) 451-7206 or e-mail dshepherd //at// thebabyfold.org.

How I Spent My Summer: a Baby Fold intern
September 7th, 2010

The following was written by Josh Rohlfs, Senior Psychology major at Illinois State university and summer 2010 Honors Service Learning Colloquium participant:

During the summer, I had the opportunity to enroll in the Honors Service Learning course in coincidence with a volunteer internship position at The Baby Fold located in Normal, IL. I began the application and interviewing process for the internship at the end of the spring semester and was offered the position in time to enroll in this summer course. I attended the new employee orientation on May 10th and May 11th and worked from the following week to the middle of August.

For my job as a Human Resources Intern, I had daily tasks to complete for the department along with a special project. The daily tasks included processing and routing applications, responding to inquiries via e-mail or phone, scheduling interviews, checking references, organizing workers’ compensation, benefits, and affirmative action plan files, and any miscellaneous task asked of me. The special project involved researching to understand the laws regarding maintaining active and inactive employee files in order to develop and implement a plan to legally purge old files. I researched heavily in this area and presented my preliminary findings to the HR team. Next, I developed a policy of retaining each type of record, ranging from applications to Family and Medical Leave Act documents to medical files. I wrote the formal policy, which included how long each type of unique file must be retained until they can be properly destroyed, how often the HR members should go through old files, and how to document the destruction of the files. I presented this policy to the HR team, a couple executives from other departments, and even the CEO. Next, I implemented this plan by going through mounds of files and throwing the confidential documents away in a locked shred bin. Thus, I was able to see my individual project from the very beginning to the very end.

In addition to my work, I was fortunate enough to attend several meetings. This included an all staff meeting with a presentation given by the CEO to discuss the organization and its employees, a benefits fair, an employment law seminar, Bloomington Normal Human Resources Committee meetings, and various team meetings with other Baby Fold staff. Also, I attended the Honors Service Learning Colloquium which included small group discussions about topics such as developing workable goals, volunteerism, time management, and effective use of supervision. We also discussed any problems that we had been experiencing in order for the group to help come up with solutions.

While I was able to volunteer my work to assist a not-for-profit organization, I was able to gain so much knowledge about the field of HR and working together with teams and other co-workers. I gained a much better idea of figuring out which areas of human resources are the best fit for me. In addition, I was able to develop skills and abilities in areas such as assertiveness, technological competence, and human relations through work and the colloquium. I was also able to develop quality, professional relationships with my co-workers.

In conclusion, I  realize the profound impact of this mutually beneficial experience and am proud to have volunteered my time at The Baby Fold.


Interested in an internship with The Baby Fold? Visit our employment & internships page for additional information.

Families say ‘thank you’ at 2010 Founder’s Day
April 11th, 2010

Approximately 300 attendees celebrated the service and support of The Baby Fold during the 7th Annual Founder’s Day event at The Doubletree Hotel in Bloomington on Thursday night. The event, which ran from 6-8:30 p.m., was an opportunity to recognize the many volunteers and donors of the child and family welfare agency.

Two clients of The Baby Fold, Cathy Chaplin and Danielle Dowell, were featured speakers at the event, discussing their successful experiences within the Horizons Counseling and Healthy Start programs, respectively.

Read the rest of this entry »

Walmart volunteers produce grant for The Baby Fold
February 8th, 2010

The Bloomington Walmart has donated $500 to The Baby Fold through their “Volunteerism Always Pays Grant” program. 

The Bloomington, Illinois, Walmart associates applied for this grant from the Walmart Corporate offices for providing 40 total hours of volunteerism by 8 Walmart associates in the design and decorating of a 7 ½’-tree, featuring handmade felt ornaments, for the 2009 Festival of Trees.

“This gift is just one more way that Walmart helps to support the most vulnerable children in our community,” said Dale Strassheim, President and CEO of The Baby Fold. “We’re grateful to have corporations enabling their employees in meaningful ways when they choose to volunteer for agencies like ours. It makes a big difference.”

Programs, Obama lead more local college students to volunteering
March 30th, 2009

By: Michele Steinbacher – The Pantagraph
Reprinted with permission

More than 200 students walked into Illinois State University’s volunteer center just this year, inquiring how they might help in the Twin Cities. Hundreds more have joined organized group efforts there, including about 175 who took spring break service trips.

While college students long have been a staple in Central Illinois volunteering circles, leaders at ISU and other area campuses report an upward trend.

College volunteers from Illinois Wesleyan's Kappa Delta sorority make volunteering at The Baby Fold and annual event.

College volunteers from Illinois Wesleyan's Kappa Delta sorority make volunteering at The Baby Fold and annual event.

“We certainly haven’t struggled getting people interested,” said Harriet Steinbach, who heads the university’s Student Volunteer Center.

But, what accounts for the growing interest, that’s a mystery, say Steinbach and others. Some attribute the jump to President Obama’s push for public service — and the support he found among college voters. Some credit college-based programs promoting civic engagement and still others believe the trend simply reflects a generational value.

“One thought is this is a characteristic of the millennials. They tend to be optimistic and care about community,” said Steinbach. “They’ve grown up involved and active,” added Sarah Diel-Hunt, a Heartland Community College associate dean.

The growth also may come from service-learning in the college curriculum, she said. “(Instructors) here have seen a shift in this generation, in terms of their desire to have engaged learning be a part of their curriculum,” she said.

Pete Moore, a spokesman for The Baby Fold, agrees the classroom component has helped add volunteers. That Normal agency, which serves children and families, has more than a dozen ISU class groups volunteering on projects at its four sites.

The campus youth bring a certain energy and tech-savvy knowledge that is a great boost to his agency, he said.

Moore and staff at other area agencies have noticed this growing volunteer pool, partly based on college interest. “About two weeks ago, we just had a meeting about that. We’ve had a huge influx of students who want to volunteer,” he said. This month, the United Way unveiled a new database intended to help with the boost in help — matching area organizations and volunteers.

Stacey Rosenbaum, who is part of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, an ISU service sorority, said her group now has 200 members, up from 150 last year. Each student promises to volunteer about 25 hours per semester, she said.

Kevin Clark, associate dean of students at Illinois Wesleyan University, said an interesting trend he’s noticed on that campus is an increase of service-based student groups. Typically, registered student groups include a variety of hobbies or social interests, he said. But new this year is a student group to help Make-A-Wish Foundation, one that addresses AIDS in Africa, and another focusing on using music for charities.

Also notable, he said, is that freshmen start many of these service-based groups.

To Clark, that indicates a new batch of arriving teenagers already plugged in to service mentality, and the ability to sustain the groups past a one- or two-year gig.

At Heartland Community College, in-district high school graduates who land one of 15 possible spots in its community scholars program earn tuition waivers in exchange for community service and leadership training.

College volunteers elsewhere

College volunteers aren’t just helping the Twin Cities — as part of its spring internship fair, Eureka College included a volunteer fair component that allowed students and area businesses and nonprofits to make matches in one setting.

And the Eureka campus also has a community service day for April 25, where community residents are invited to request assistance during the day for home and yard projects, among others. Lincoln College offers a similar community day in the fall, when students help with leaf-raking and other projects, said Danielle Stanley, 20, of Dolton, who attends the college.

She’s noticed more people volunteering, and more projects getting started on her campus. In December, for example, she and others in the Black Student Union babysat so parents could get some holiday shopping done.

For ISU’s alternative spring break program, Steinbach enrolled more than 175 participants; up from 110 in 2007. Groups went to Florida Everglades for environmental work, to southern Mississippi to help with post-Hurricane Katrina projects; to Oklahoma to help the Cherokee nation, and to Boston, to assist at homeless shelters.

A variety of smaller trips were planned as well. For example, the Bloomington-based Our Chinese Daughters Foundation sent five ISU students to Beijing, where they helped special-needs orphans.

Eureka College took a student group to Denver to help build a home; and Illinois Wesleyan University sent 60 students to sites in Tennessee and Texas.

“I’ve been trying to get into volunteering more,” said Amy Grigoletti, 21, of Shorewood, who traveled last week with fellow IWU students to the Cumberland Trail near Chattanooga, Tenn. All week, they used environmentally friendly methods to build walking paths. This isn’t the first year Grigoletti, an accounting major, took part in the so-called alternative break. Last spring, she and classmates worked on New Orleans-area renovations.

She’s also spent three semesters volunteering weekly at District 87’s Bent Elementary School in Bloomington. “I guess it’s because I’ve had a really great experience at Illinois Wesleyan. I feel grateful, and feel like I should give back,” she said.

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