Mom dedicated to making life better for all kids
Last updated 1/17/2024 at 3:39pm | View PDF
As a child, Jeanne Hendrie remembers seeing her mother, a teacher, pack up food to bring to students in her classroom who didn't have access to breakfast. Hendrie said she's not sure if that experience sparked her own commitment to helping children, but the Hinsdale mom is dedicated professionally and personally to making life better for kids.
Not long after moving to Hinsdale from Chicago in 2019, Hendrie discovered The Community House. Along with the many benefits the facility offered to her own family, she learned of the organization's efforts to support residents of Willowbrook Corner. When schools went to a remote schedule due to COVID-19, Hendrie volunteered to help keep kids safe and engaged in learning. She continued helping with the after-school program at Willowbrook Corner on Monday afternoons once classes returned to normal.
"I still pop in occasionally," she said, but these days, Hendrie's job with CASA of DuPage County takes up much of her time. CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate, is a network of volunteers who are partnered with children in the foster care system. Volunteer advocates meet regularly with their assigned child and serve as a liaisons to the court system, advocating for that child's best interests.
"There are a lot of CASA volunteer advocates in Hinsdale," and there is a need for even more, Hendrie said, citing a specific need for individuals who speak Spanish.
"It's a commitment," Hendrie said, but one that is flexible and rewarding.
Prior to taking the job of advocate supervisor, Hendrie was a volunteer advocate herself, doing her part to protect children and reunite them with their families if possible.
That's also the goal of Safe Families for Children, with which the Hendries - Jeanne, husband Andrew, and their three children - participate as a host family. The nonprofit's mission is to keep children safe and to keep families together by providing temporary care for children who need a place to go but who don't require placement in foster care. Hendrie said the program can offer respite to parents in a time of crisis, giving them peace of mind that their children are cared for.
"That really speaks to me," Hendrie said.
Hendrie remains involved with The Community House, as well as a member of its board and advancement committee. One of her main goals as a board member is to educate the community about the need for funding. Many incorrectly assume that The Community House is a public facility, Hendrie said.
"We're working on new and creative ways to let people know that The Community House is privately funded," she said.
Meanwhile, Hendrie is reaching beyond her own three children to help develop a giving spirit in a new generation. She and several other moms relaunched Madison School's Kids Care Club in 2022. It gives Madison students the opportunity to participate in charitable endeavors such as collecting summer camp supplies for kids in need and packing lunches for a Chicago ministry that helps people who are homeless.
"It's a really good opportunity for kids to think beyond themselves," she said.
- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff