ELBURN – Conley Outreach Community Services has been giving out the Angel Awards since 2008 to individuals and businesses that go above and beyond the volunteering call of duty for the organization.
“The awards started as individual awards [given] to the volunteers at Conley Farm who helped maintain the gardens and the farm,” Carol Alfrey, executive director of Conley Outreach, said. “But because the work of the organization eventually expanded to include help from other businesses, in 2010 we began including them as recipients of the award as well.”
This year there was no individual award given out, and the Angel Award recipients were two organizations: the Elburn Lions Club and Pat White Construction of Elburn.
The Elburn Lions Club has been a partner of Conley Outreach since the early '80s when Conley Outreach was created by founder Bruce Conley as an extension of the Conley Funeral Home in Elburn. At that time it specialized in only bereavement aftercare providing support groups, literature and counseling to those grieving after a loss. The Lions Club has been providing teddy bears to grieving children since those programs began.
“We wanted to make sure we recognized the Lions Club this year for their long-standing commitment to Conley Outreach,” said Carol Alfrey, executive director of Conley Outreach. “They have put many years of time, money and devotion into our mission, and it was a well-deserved recognition.”
The Lions Club also donates books and toys for the Holiday Spirit program every year as well as money throughout the year from fundraisers the club holds on its own. That money helps local community members with the necessities of life; bills; pays for the tuition to have someone attend grief camp during the summer; and helps pay for the counselors for grief therapy sessions.
Pat White Construction has been donating to Conley Outreach’s Holiday Spirit program for 10 years. Two years ago the company decided to "pay it forward" and host a golf outing with all proceeds going to Conley Outreach.
“We actually won a pig roast at a silent auction at another event and decided instead of just feeding our friends, we would pay it forward and hold a fundraiser for Conley and serve the pig there,” Michelle White, co-owner of Pat White Construction, said. “We appreciate that 100 percent of the money raised for Conley Outreach goes to help those in need, rather than paying for overhead.”
Pat White Construction's two golf outings raised $6,000 for Conley Outreach, and the company continues to support Holiday Spirit.
“Conley’s been such a good focal point in the community for so long just through the Holiday Spirit program,” White said.
Conley Outreach may be most well known for its Holiday Spirit program. Holiday Spirit is a joint program with the Kaneland School District that matches families in need with individuals or organizations willing to help fulfill the children’s holiday wishes. Potential recipients must fill out an application, proof of need must be established in order to be accepted into the program each year, and applicants need to live in the Kaneland community. The program provides assistance to approximately 130 children each year.
“Gifts are bought only for the children, not for the adults individually, but we do purchase [for] family needs as well, such as bedding or toilet paper,” Alfrey said. “We try to give every family a gas card, one year each family got a fleece blanket. But we are always accepting generic donations, such as new hats, mittens, Legos, boards games and nail polish.”
According to its website, Conley Outreach started more than 35 years ago by Bruce Conley and became a nonprofit organization in 1999. Conley Outreach offers grief support, which is why its founder started the organization.
“The West Towns Network includes an entire list of local resources spanning four counties,” Alfrey said. “This list includes resources for those who need help with substance abuse, grief, housing, mental health and more.”
The list of resources can be found on Conley Outreach’s website at www.conleyoutreach.org, but Conley Outreach can provide more information by calling 630-365-2880.
Alfrey wanted to make the community aware that Conley Outreach provides many other services to the community, such as the Good Samaritan Clothing Closet, which provides free clothes to anyone living in the Kaneland and Hinckley/Big Rock area; monthly meal programs where Conley Outreach partners with area churches to provide a warm meal to Elburn Food Pantry patrons; and the Holiday Spirit program.
For more information, visit www.conleyoutreach.org or call 630-365-2880.