We CU Community Partner Spotlight: HOYCE Youth Center

10/20/2022 12:26:22 PM

Welcome to the first edition of We CU’s new "Community Partner Spotlight!" For this series, our community partners tackle three questions about their organizations’ missions and community impact.  

We CU and the School of Social Work’s Community Learning Lab partner with approximately one hundred community organizations each year. Here, one of our partners answers three questions about their organizations’ missions and community impact. 

Our feature today is the H.O.Y.C.E. Center. Since 2009, the H.O.Y.C.E. Center has been working to enhance the lives of youth in Chicago and Urbana by helping them identify positive activities to promote learning, discover other options, and identify new talents. We CU Scholars have collaborated and helped the H.O.Y.C.E. Center with event planning, fundraising, donation drives, recruitment, website updates, and more. Follow the H.O.Y.C.E. Center on Instagram and Facebook

If you would like We CU to feature your organization in this series, contact the Community Learning Lab at SSW-CLL@mx.uillinois.edu 


What does a positive community impact look like in this organization? 

H.O.Y.C.E. stands for Helping Our Youth Change Everyday. Our positive community impact is giving more than is expected. We aim to help youth and their families in a variety of ways. Making a positive impact is about being methodical in what we do for our community and knowing the why. We collect resources just to share with others because nothing is more fulfilling than to see the smile on a child’s face or a family member's when we provide not only what they need, but give them more than they ever expected.  

We do our work because we want to help people understand that there are options for them to do things that will and can change their life. It could be a simple gesture or providing them with a donation.  

In the communities we serve, there is a great need for a multitude of services. Our positive impact assists in family development by providing resources that include food, clothing, toiletries, household items, toys, pajamas, and school supplies. We also connect families with appropriate programs and services such as mental health, daycare, or other face coverings that are strongly recommended but not required by state or federal resources. These resources are focused within their communities which affords them easy access to the needed services and helps families toward self-sufficiency and togetherness. Our work also lets families know that there is someone there during their ups and downs and they are not alone. 

We are more than just the resources. We are about knowing someone who cares. 


What advice do you have for University of Illinois students who are interested in getting involved in the community? 

 Here are some things to keep in mind when you want to get involved in the community: 

  1. Know what you are called to do. What does this mean? Oftentimes, we want to help others and make a great impact without thinking about how that is supposed to happen. 

  1. Feed into your curiosity. Volunteer for organizations so that you can learn something new. Don’t just be comfortable. You learn more when you are out of your comfort zone. 

  1. Seek to truly understand other cultures and/or populations of people. 

  1. Always give from the heart and be genuine in giving a helping hand. You never know someone else’s story. 

  1. Always be mindful of what you say. Words have power. They can hurt, help, or heal with or without you knowing. 

  1. Seek to truly understand the community you serve. Listen to the stories. Understand the need. Be a part of a solution. Show empathy for someone’s current place in their life.  

  1. Utilize the Civic Engagement programs that the university offers. 

  1. GET A MENTOR! The college years are the best time to start building your network. 


What do you want UIUC students to know about your organization? 

This is an organization based on love, hope, and faith. Love because we love others as God loves us. Hope, because we constantly strive to support our community and to promote positivity, growth, and positive well-being. Faith, because we believe that as long as our hands and hearts are outstretched, someone or many will grab hold and so on. If we could help others then they can possibly pay it forward. We also collaborate with Wal-Mart, which Wal-Mart that supports one of our programs, "The Blessing Bank.” We receive donations every two weeks to give away the items to the community. We are always seeking volunteers to help with various tasks, for example, picking up donations, sorting donations, website management, identifying information for social media posts, fundraising, etc. Currently, we are a volunteer organization and are always looking for other talented individuals. Please visit our website to support our donation drive for our Annual Season of Giving Event held in December. WE LOVE AND ENJOY WHAT WE DO FOR OTHERS!