Winter 2018 Newsletter
Rainbows for All Children 
35th Anniversary
** IMPORTANT Reminders**
  1. A short survey questionnaire will be sent to facilitators in March. It will only be 3-4 questions and should take <5 minutes to complete. Please be sure to respond so we can have accurate information to pass on to families searching for groups.
  2. Remember, facilitators are required to maintain their certification with an annual re-certification online training. This is to build on your existing knowledge and skills, and provide additional pertinent and timely information for supporting children. It should take under one hour to complete, and costs $25. Beginning March 15th, facilitators who are up for the renewal will receive an email prompting them to re-certify. 
  3. We have three sites in the Chicagoland area currently searching for facilitators: North Riverside, Oak Park and Wilmette libraries all are eager and ready to start hosting groups, and have children waiting to participate. We just need volunteers willing to facilitate those groups! Please let us know if you, or someone you know, is interested.
  4. Please remember: the Rainbows program is secular. If you are a religious site and choose to add any type of religious component to the program, please be sure you are making families aware of exactly what that includes PRIOR to them registering for a group (i.e. prayer, religious program supplement, faith-based gifts, etc.). 
  5. We need alumni stories, quotes, pictures, testimonials, etc. Please consider asking former or current participants if they would be willing to share their experience. They can remain anonymous, if they prefer, and should only share what they are comfortable with. But it is very helpful to other children to hear those success stories, and we would greatly appreciate your help in gathering them. Stories/photos can be emailed to or mailed to our headquarters at 614 Dempster St., Ste. C, Evanston IL 60202.
Additional questions or concerns? 
Please contact Paula Carter at or 847-952-1770, Ext. 310.
The team of young girls from She Is CODE who designed and created the App, 
presenting at the Rainbows App Launch party on February 21, 2018

The Rainbows for All Children App is LIVE!!

Android users, search for "Rainbows for All Children" in Google Playstore* on your mobile device and add the Rainbows App. 

Highlighted features include

MOOD BOOSTERS: activities to help boost a negative mood 

JOURNALATE: a password-protected place to journal online
This is a work-in-progress that will continue to grow as we develop new and improved features. Please test it out with children and teens, and let us know what they think. Rainbows facilitators, this can be a great resource for participants in between their weekly meetings. We would love to hear your feedback!

*Apple/iPhone users will be able to access the App very soon; there is a launch delay with iTunes.

by   Anya Yurchyshyn (Goodreads Author) 
Release date: Mar 27, 2018

A young woman uncovers letters that make her reevaluate the story of her immigrant parents' romance and marriage under the long-reaching shadow of the USSR, leading her to the dark truth behind her father's death.

Part literary thriller, part detective story, My Dead Parents is the account of one woman's relentless quest to solve the tragic and complex mysteries of her past, and in so doing, to come more fully to terms with her life today.

Click here for more information.
Spotlight on Our Fantastic Featured Facilitators 
Bill Ovca
In 1997, Bill's daughters needed some support during a tough time and fortunately he heard about Rainbows for All Children. Sadly however, as it happens all too often, at the time there was not a site in available in downtown Chicago. Instead of just accepting that fact, Bill acted. He became a trained facilitator and started his own Rainbows site together with another single parent. As a result of his effort, not only did his daughters and his co-facilitator's son receive support, but many other children did too.

His favorite part of this Rainbows journey has been to witness the growth and changes of the families who have been a part of the group. From that very first meeting, Bill could see the difference that the Rainbows program had on children. Not only did they walk away feeling supported, but the children were able to express their emotions more easily and it was obvious they felt empowered by the knowledge and skills they had gained from the group.

The Rainbows site at Holy Name Cathedral continues to be the largest and longest-surviving open group in the Chicago "Loop." They run the program in a unique way, allowing children to enter at any point and running continuously throughout the year with no definitive start or end dates. While there are advantages and disadvantages to operating the program in this manner, by all accounts from the families they have served it seems to be working well.

Bill firmly believes in giving back and says, "I would encourage anyone who has experienced a family transition to consider becoming a trained facilitator. It is a huge opportunity for a caring adult to show up for children who are grieving in a way that makes a world of a difference."

Thank you Bill for stepping up and being such an inspiring leader!

Willie Elliott
Willie Elliott was initially drawn to Rainbows for All Children because of the program's acknowledgement that loss can happen in so many ways. He particularly appreciates that Rainbows is one of the only programs that does not limit loss to solely bereavement. Because of that, Willie knew it would be a great fit for many of the children with whom he works in his role as the Communications and Training Coordinator at Onondaga County's System of Care Juvenile Justice Mental Health Program in West Syracuse, NY.

Being a single father of four boys certainly prepared Willie to facilitate a Rainbows group, but his list of qualifications doesn't end there. On top of obtaining a degree in Criminal Justice, Willie also expanded his knowledge and understanding of mental health and grief by becoming a certified mediator, a National Coalition Building Institute Facilitator, and a Mental Health First Aid trainer, just to name a few.

He boasts that the best part of being a Rainbows for All Children facilitator is knowing with absolute certainty he is helping to instill a positive effect on the lives of the participants and their families. Going forward, Willie is excited about being able to take more of a back seat role so his well-trained volunteers can continue to expand the program to other areas, especially in "hard to reach" places. It has taken a lot of time and demanding work on his part but, thanks to his resolve, Willie has also been able to identify PEACE Southside Family Resource Center as a partner to help coordinate the Rainbows program. He is excited about the growth that will continue to expand even further within his community and his Rainbows for All Children group.

Thank you, Willie Elliott, for all of your determination and dedication!
Do you know an OUTSTANDING facilitator who deserves to be recognized?
If you would like to nominate a Rainbows Facilitator to be our next "Featured Facilitator" please complete this form.
Celebrating the Season by Giving to Rainbows

Rainbows' Board Chair, Anjum Abbasi-Voight, lives in a small, close-knit community on the Northshore of Chicago. Every winter they gather together to line the streets with luminaries for the holiday season. This year they set a record with over 160 houses participating, lighting  700 luminaries. Even better, the neighbors also made donations and raised $405 for Rainbows! What a beautiful way to celebrate and recognize the spirit of the season. 
"What I like best about Rainbows is they help me get anger and sadness out of me."
--8 year old, female participant
You Are Not Alone: Guiding Youth Through the Storms
Last quarter, we featured an article introducing the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) or traumatic events occurring in childhood that can result in lifelong poor health outcomes. In response to the recent incident at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a 19-year-old former student shot and killed 17 people and injured 26 others, we feel it is important to address this issue again.
Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, witnessed the trauma of his father's death when he was only 6 years old. It appears he had developmental delays as early as the age of 3, and many experts in the mental health field feel he suffers from depression and possibly other mental illness. Regardless of the specific cause of his poor mental health, it is apparent that Nikolas Cruz experienced adversity during his childhood. In cases like his, where the damage is severe enough to affect normal development, the results can be toxic. 

When the stress response system is constantly activated, it results in poor impulse control, inability to self-regulate and other behaviors as a result of toxic stress. This type of chronic stress is toxic to our systems, affecting the development of the brain, hormonal systems, immune systems, and even the way DNA is read and transcribed. Because toxic stress can affect DNA, the results can even be intergenerational, meaning we can inherit the effects of ACEs our parents and even grandparents experienced if they were never properly addressed. Research has indicated as much as 64% of adults have experienced at least one ACE in childhood, and 12.6% have experienced four or more.
As Jane Ellen Stevens explains in ACE Science, "ACEs affects us all....either personally, in our family members, our friends, or people in our immediate or extended community (i.e., our nation and world). Most of our nation's burden of chronic disease is ACE-related, as are most of our social and mental health issues. Much of the toxicity in our systems reside in the roots of our history of slavery, racial discrimination and genocide, and we are just beginning to comprehend its reach and effects."
Preventing and addressing ACEs is what Rainbows for All Children facilitators are doing every day with children. While not every child who experiences significant adversity will be helped solely by enrolling in a Rainbows group, strong research indicates having the support of at least one stable, nurturing parent or adult caregiver in a child's life can significantly decrease the negative effects of ACEs. The key is that the child is supported, the "bad behaviors" are recognized as a symptom of an underlying problem, those issues are addressed, and trauma-informed care is provided. Unfortunately, as we now learn from the reports coming out about Nikolas Cruz, too many warning signs were ignored and he never received the help he so desperately needed.
As Stevens states, "The resilience research part of ACEs science research focuses on what happens when individuals, organizations and systems integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices. And when they do, the results are remarkable, astounding, so mind-blowing that they finally provide some hope that we can solve our most intractable problems." Tragedies, like what happened in Parkland, can be prevented.
For more on this topic:

Executive Function and Self-Regulation , by The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
Articles We Love This Quarter
How Lives are Being Shattered by Forced Deportation

Any changes in a family dynamic can cause immense distress. Dropping children off at school doesn't usually put a parent in danger, but for these two fathers, it led to an opportunity to be arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A third father sought sanctuary at a church and has been since helped by a judge who blocked deportation. Due to the current stance against immigration, led by President Trump, more and more families are being torn apart:

Many families are facing trauma from being ripped apart due to deportation. In this article, a father of three whom was widely loved and respected in his community and as a professor, was taken by ICE outside of his home. His wife was then threatened after trying to hug him that she could be arrested too for interfering. The Jamal's community is fighting back and have raised over $70,000 to help with legal expenses.

The FreeForm TV channel has never shied away from tough topics. Recently, they've been highlighting a storyline that addresses immigration and a character's DACA status. While the series The Fosters (TV-14) may not be appropriate for all audiences, it gives a good depiction of how immigration issues can be very traumatizing for families.

Song We Love This Quarter:
The Good Old Days by Macklemore
"You don't know, what you've got
Till it goes, till it's gone
You don't know, what you've got
Till it goes, till it's gone..."
Feature Activity: What Do You Bring to Your Rainbows Group?

Knowing How Much You are Worth*

Purpose: To help participants by hearing positive feedback about who they are and what specific contribution(s) they each bring to the group.

Materials: Enough small scrapes of paper so that everyone will get as many as there are number of people in the group. A small bowl/basket/box for each person at the front of the room. Writing utensils.

  • Give each participant as many scraps of paper as there are people in the group.
  • Open with discussing that everyone has brought something to the group. Some of us are better at listening, while others of us are better at sharing, but we have all met together each week in hopes of helping one another through the struggles we are facing. Instruct each person to write a compliment for each participant in the group, and one compliment for themselves as well. These compliments can be something nice that the person did, something they like about the person, or a way in which they saw the other person improve or grow over the course of the group.
  • After the participants have written messages for each of the people in the group, instruct them to put the notes into the appropriate bowl/basket/box for that person.
  • Once all messages are put into the containers, have each person get his or her container and return to their seat.
  • Once seated, going around the circle and have each person read the compliments he or she received. Optionally, they can read them to themselves if they don't feel comfortable sharing aloud. (Facilitators may participate in this as well!)
This is a great way to reflect on the personal growth, strengths and unique gifts that each of us brings to a shared space. End the meeting by reminding the participants that they are worthy of celebrating; each and every one of them deserves love and compassion. Remind them to practice self-love whenever they feel low. They might even wish to keep the notes handy to look at and remind them there are others who feel they are valuable and important!

*This activity was originally intended as an alternate activity for Meeting 12: Reaching Out of Rainbows Level 3. However, it can be used with other levels and at other meetings, as facilitators see fit. It is particularly good for one of the final meetings, though, since participants need to know each other fairly well and have bonded well. This, and other alternate activities, can be found in the Resource Center of the online training ( ).
Meet the Newest Member  of the Rainbows for All Children Headquarters Team: Paula Carter

If you ever call Rainbows' headquarters in Evanston, IL, you'll likely speak with our friendly, new Administrative Assistant, Paula. She is often the first person to connect families and caregivers with available Rainbows' resources, and she assists facilitators when they have questions or concerns about the program or need help with logistics. To Paula, this is more than a typical "9 to 5" position, and she says, "I feel like I finally found my dream job."

Paula first became aware of Rainbows for All Children in 2015, after her husband passed away. She was searching for resources for her then six-year-old daughter and thought a Rainbows group might be just what she needed. Paula was already friends with Laura Lindroth, Rainbows' Director of Programming and Community Engagement, who gave her information to get her daughter some help. This summer, when an opportunity to work with the Rainbows team presented itself, Paula felt it was meant to be. "I was so excited. Not only is helping children who are grieving something I am passionate about, but being able to actually call this my job is extraordinary!"

Her first official appearance as part of the Rainbows team was at the Rainbows' Umbrella Brunch at the Chicago Yacht Club, in October. There, Paula especially loved meeting the Rainbows' board members, who are so passionately involved, and hearing Rainbows' Executive Director, Stephanie Garrity, speak. "Working with fabulous coworkers and interns" is Paula's favorite part of her "dream job," but she also enjoys developing relationships with the facilitators. The only downside to working in the Rainbows' office, she says, is "there are way too many office goodies!" Candy and cookie temptations aside, Paula Carter loves being a part of Rainbows for All Children and doesn't even feel as though she's going to work every day.

Thank you, Paula, for everything that you do!

Please help us welcome the nine
new sites that have joined the Rainbows family since November!
  • Bosqueville- Waco, TX
  • McPherson Elementary School- Chicago, IL
  • Glidden Ralston Community School District- Glidden, IA
  • St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School- Tucson, AZ
  • St. John Vianney Catholic School- Orlando, FL
  • St. Patrick Academy- Sacramento, CA
  • Winthrop Harbor School District #1- Winthrop Harbor, IL
  • Forest Park School District 91- Forest Park, IL
  • Westview Hills Middle School- Willowbrook, IL
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