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Palatine's WINGS Program Provides Safety and Security to Women and Children in Need

By Elisha Neubauer

Beginning with a story that brings tears to one's eyes, Wings is an incredible organization that helps to put a silver lining on the misfortune of families having to face domestic violence. Launched in 1985, Wings is now the largest domestic violence service in the state of Illinois, aiding single women and women with children in finding safe shelter and future life planning.

So how did this amazing organization get its start? We sat down with Jill Sterling, Manager of Communications for Wings, to find out.

"In 1985, Father Louis Tosto teamed up with Ed Boggio (Deacon at St. Marceline Church), Ed Geiss (retired Human Services Coordinator in Arlington Heights), Edith Hovius, a local social worker, to address the needs of the homeless in the suburbs of Chicago," she explained. "The group learned that there were very few services available for the homeless and that women and their children were the most in need."

From there, the group decided they would remedy the situation on their own- determined to be the help the community so badly needed. They partnered with organizations such as the Northwest Suburban Council for Community Service and the Alexian Brothers Medical Center to create a Housing and Shelter program which later became entitled Wings.

While the company has no plans to expand nationally, it has become the largest domestic violence housing agency in the state of Illinois. In fact, on Valentine's Day, WINGS opened its second shelter on the south-side of Chicago. "The new facility increased the number of shelter beds in the city by thirty-six percent," states Sterling. The company operates under the mission to provide housing, integrated services, education and advocacy to end domestic violence; and so far, seem to be chipping away at this goal a little more each and every year.

The company believes that "Everyone has the potential and strength to overcome difficult life circumstances and to accomplish goals that will lead to an enhanced quality of life," as their website states, and aims to help break the cycle of domestic violence one family at a time.

The company offers several unique, tailored programs to aid families with readjusting and restarting their lives after domestic abuse. These programs include a safe house, transitional living, children and family services, extended services, career services, and outreach services.

Other programs include Project Lifeline, in which community members (Mentors) are linked with women who are homeless or victims of abuse; and Alas, or Advocating for Latinas Achieving Self-Sufficiency, which supports Latina women in self-development and self-sufficiency. The company also provides the state-mandated 40-hour domestic violence training required for all volunteers and staff members of Wings, as well as other members of the community serving the domestic abuse victims.

Those who work or volunteer in the program are all exceptionally dedicated to their work, really going above and beyond in every way possible to help provide services, and a new start, to women and children facing domestic abuse situations. Whether they were once victims themselves, knew someone who was, or are just looking to contribute to the cause, they all do it because the need is there. As Sterling says, "The most fulfilling aspect of working with WINGS is to assist women and children in moving away from violence and on to self-sufficient lives free from abuse and fear."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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