E-news from The Baby Fold

Growing Our Own Amazing Educators

Justin Kinder

Justin Kinder is a very busy man. He works full-time at Hammitt Schools during the day and he’s a pastor at a Baptist church on evenings and weekends. Justin and his wife also have two children and a dog. Add in a two-hour daily commute to Bloomington-Normal, and you’ll begin to wonder when he even has time to sleep.

With all the busyness of life, however, Justin also recently earned his Special Education Learning Behavior Specialist certification (LBS1) in The Baby Fold's Grow Your Own teacher program through TeacherReady.

Earning his teaching certificate had been a goal of Justin’s for quite some time. 

“I had always wanted to go back and get my licensure for teaching,” Justin said, “but every program that I looked at would take 2–3 years and I did not want to invest that much time since I was also busy with church ministry. When I saw that I could obtain my licensure in a year or less, I knew that this was something that the Lord had placed in my lap to help me finally achieve my goal.”

The flexibility of the Grow Your Own program allows employees to complete coursework in under a year while still working in Hammitt Schools, and their work experience fulfills the fieldwork requirements for the program. Additionally, tuition reimbursement and scholarship opportunities can cover all costs, making the program even more appealing to employees interested in becoming licensed educators.

By investing in the education and growth of our staff, The Baby Fold can provide the very best care for local children and families.

Emily Manley

Emily Manley also completed the Grow Your Own program. Emily knew in 7th grade that she wanted to be a teacher. During her senior year in high school, she decided to focus on special education because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of children.

In college, however, a professor suggested she change her major. Even though she made the change, her dream to teach special education still lingered. So after Emily joined the staff at Hammitt School, assisting in a classroom, she also began the Grow Your Own program. She earned her LBS1 teaching license last fall.

"Here I am, living out my dream," Emily said. "Don't let anyone tear down what God built up. My journey was lengthy and difficult but I wouldn't trade this moment for the world."

With nearly one full year of teaching special education at Hammitt School now complete, Emily is thriving right along with her students.

Fueling Our Young Learners

Food Service Department

It’s barely light out at 6:30 a.m. when the Food Services Department at The Baby Fold begins their day. What gets them out of bed so early is that they have hungry students heading their way, and breakfast needs to be ready when the busses arrive.

Together, this mighty team of four prepares roughly 550 breakfasts, 1,000 lunches, and 750 classroom snacks each week for Hammitt Schools. They make sure bellies are full so that students can focus on learning.

According to Shelby McNeely, Support Services Supervisor, the most popular lunches served at Hammitt Schools are popcorn chicken with mashed potatoes and, of course, pizza. Our students’ favorite breakfasts are breakfast sandwiches and biscuits and gravy (yum!).

But don’t be fooled by the allure of breaded chicken, pizza, and gravy. All meals served at Hammitt Schools follow strict Illinois State Board of Education nutritional guidelines. The menus are also all certified by a licensed nutritionist at OSF. The Food Services team makes sure we’re always properly feeding students’ bodies as well as their minds.

It’s a labor of love for them, too. When bell pepper sticks are on the menu, the team hand-cuts around 130 fresh peppers. When they serve orange slices, they prepare about 1,200. Milk is another staple for lunches, of course, with Food Services passing out approximately 4,000 cartons per month.

Shelby says the early mornings are worth it, though: “We love interacting and building lasting relationships with the students and staff of The Baby Fold!”

Enjoying the Fruits of Gardening Labor

student with his pizza

A student in Hammitt Elementary School’s Garden Club recently got to enjoy the fruits of his labor!

The boy helped plant and tend to the club’s garden over the summer. With tomatoes ripe for the picking, he asked if he could take some home. 

He then made himself a pizza with the tomatoes from the garden. His face shows how proud he is!

Sharing Expertise in Trauma-Informed Care

Lori Bultemeier

The Baby Fold’s vision of transforming children’s lives through strong family and community partnerships extends beyond our schools and programs. We’re also sharing our expertise on trauma-informed care with communities of faith.

Rev. Lori Bultemeier, who provides pastoral care at The Baby Fold, was recently invited to speak at a local church about the principles of trauma-informed care to help their Sunday school and youth programming staff offer the best care for all children. Children of all abilities are part of this church, and educating the ministry staff moves them foward in their goal to make sure all kids feel safe, accepted, and loved.

By sharing this proficiency, Rev. Lori is caring for children in the faith community and fulfilling The Baby Fold's mission of building positive futures with children and families while reflecting the Christian principles of love, hope, and healing.

Recommending Grants from Donor-Advised Funds

student with a heart-shaped banana

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are considered one of the fastest-growing charitable giving vehicles in the United States, providing an easy and tax-saving way to support your favorite causes.

A DAF is an investment account held at an organization, such as a community foundation, that is used for charitable giving. DAFs provide an immediate tax benefit to you and allow you to recommend grants to your favorite charities.

When you recommend a grant from your DAF to The Baby Fold, you provide healing-centered care directly to children who need it most through programs like foster care, adoption support, autism programs, special education, early intervention, and more.

To maximize your impact, you may also elect to set up recurring grants or name The Baby Fold as a beneficiary of your DAF. To recommend a grant to The Baby Fold, please contact your fund administrator or visit our website.

Distributing funds that already exist in your donor-advised fund won't affect your personal financial security, either—what a smart way to support children!

Volunteering at the Festival of Trees!

The Baby Fold's Festival of Trees volunteer sign-up is officially open! Last year, over 450 volunteers stepped up to help. If you're 21 or older and want to help kids by bringing this cherished community event to life, you can visit the sign-up form to browse volunteer opportunities.

volunteers at Festival of Trees
volunteers sell cookies at Festival of Trees

The Baby Fold builds positive futures with children and families while reflecting the Christian principles of love, hope, and healing.

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