After sponsoring our Winter Gala in Chicago, One Hope United spoke with us about the life-changing work they do to provide families and children in states across America a better future and a life without limits. Read more to learn about this amazing organization and how you can volunteer to help out!

Across America, there are children and families struggling to get the resources they need to live better and more fulfilling lives. From better education, mental healthcare, to foster care, One Hope United has been working for over 120-years to help provide every child and family a life without limits. I sat down with Jenaeth Markaj from One Hope United, to learn more about her journey with this amazing organization and the work that they do to better the lives of families in Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Florida.

Jenaeth Markaj, Donor Relations Officer at One Hope United

“There are many aspects of our work that are personally important to me: early education, child abuse prevention, and more. I was inspired to work for an organization that allowed me to address multiple issues that are integral to living a full and productive life, rather than concentrate on a single focus area.” Jenaeth explained that her loyalty and dedication to One Hope United is due to the staff’s commitment to their vision — “For every child and family, life without limits.” That commitment is prevalent in the differences they’ve made in people’s lives.


One Hope United began Pathfinders as a unique program that combines both the features of their family counseling programs with early childhood centers to provide support for both parents and their children. The program was specifically designed for children who come from struggling homes to teach healthy behaviors and provide therapy for those suffering with emotional stress, depression, and more.

At 2-3 years old, Lucy (her name has been changed for privacy) frequently witnessed her father physically abusing her mother. Although her father never hurt Lucy physically, he would rush towards her angrily and threateningly whenever she threw a tantrum —  a normal occurrence for a two-year-old. By age 5, Lucy had developed unhealthy behaviors from her trauma that would have debilitated her opportunities for a stable education.

From these instances of emotional abuse, she developed extreme anxiety and a paralyzing fear of loud noises. This caused major issues at her child care center, as Lucy was prone to outbursts and terrified screaming whenever she was overwhelmed by other children crying. As education is a major stepping stone to a bright future, this was an extreme concern for her mother and is the reason One Hope United places such a large focus on early childhood education. 

After joining Pathfinders, Lucy made huge strides towards normalcy and healthier behaviors. She now can be seen laughing, making friends, and being extremely talkative, a complete 180-degree turnaround. 

How can you make an impact?

Lucy is just one of the many lives that One Hope United has changed for the better, thanks to their numerous inspiring programs, dedicated employees, and amazing volunteers! Speaking of volunteers, here’s how YOU can make a difference with One Hope United.

One Hope United can arrange volunteer outings for groups at one of their sites in Chicago or the surrounding communities. Programs may include both site improvement projects and opportunities to engage with the children and families they serve.

The One Hope United Wishbook is a storybook with a call to action and a tool that offers the chance to support kids in your community by providing items and experiences that help change their lives for the better. You can partner with One Hope United all year long by giving back through our dedicated IVY Wishbook site.

Employee Giving & Matching Gifts
Most companies offer employee giving and/or matching gift programs for charitable donations. You can ask your employer to add One Hope United to its list of approved non-profit organizations, which significantly increases the impact of your support.

Board Recruitment
One Hope United also offers a range of Board service opportunities for individuals at different stages in their careers, from young and mid-career professionals to seasoned executives.

Into the future

One Hope United started as a children’s home in Chicago in 1895. Since then they have greatly expanded the scope of their services. Today they provide high-quality early childhood education, foster care, youth anti-violence initiatives, support for teen parents, and much much more.

But One Hope United isn’t stopping there, one of their goals for the future is to increase access to mental health services for residents of the South Side of Chicago. Their vision lays the foundation for all of the work that they do.

And with that vision, they’re also hosting a plethora of incredible events to promote their work and services that IVY members are welcomed to join. Check them out below:

Hope in Action (Friday, May 3rd, Hilton Chicago, 7PM)
This One Hope United signature fundraising gala, hosted in Chicago this spring, offers a range of opportunities for IVY members to support their mission, including sponsorship at various levels, table and ticket purchases, and event attendance. Celebrity guest Mario Bonds, live and silent auctions, a cocktail reception, and a seated dinner will make this an unforgettable evening! A meaningful program and awards ceremony will provide a chance for guests to learn more about their work and vision. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit the One Hope United website.

Hope After Dark (Friday, May 3rd, Hilton Chicago, 10PM)
Join the One Hope United Chicago Ambassador Board for a lively cocktail reception and dancing with music by legendary Chicago house-music DJ, Lady D. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit their website.

The White Party presented by Marco Foster (Friday, July 26th, Location TBA)
Now entering its ninth year, Marco Foster’s White Party is one of the most spectacular parties of the summer! It’s located at a premier Chicago nightlife venue benefiting One Hope United’s Cook County foster care programs. Guests can purchase tables or tickets to enjoy a great evening out with celebrity hosts; sponsorship opportunities are also available. Keep an eye out on One Hope’s Facebook page for further details.

Go Blue 4 OHU: Dine Out and Do Good (Month of April)
Throughout April, local Chicago restaurants are offering specialty items for diners to sip and feast on in support of One Hope United and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Go Blue restaurants will donate a portion of the proceeds from select menu items to benefit One Hope’s programs to prevent child abuse. One Hope United Chicago Ambassador Board members, donors, and staff will be gathering at different partner restaurant locations throughout the month. Follow them on Facebook to see where they’ll be in April! For more information on their Go Blue campaign, check out the website.

Independent Special Events
Just as One Hope United partnered with IVY to bring you Chicago’s glamorous Winter Gala, they’re also open to serve as your charity partner for your event or special occasion. Their staff will support you by attending your event, speaking about their work, and providing marketing materials to get your guests excited about giving back to the community.

IVY is so proud to have partnered with One Hope United in support of their amazing cause. We hope to provide our members with a channel to give back to their communities and become leaders in causes they’re passionate about.

Thank you One Hope United!