Supporting a safe haven for kids

Pictured (left to right): Diana Koziol. Sarah Bell and Marj Hubert were part of the group of nurses in northern Illinois who held a stocking stuffer drive in November 2023 that resulted in more than 100 items being donated to the children at Rock House Kids.

UW Health nurses are our unsung heroes, not only tending to the medical needs of our patients, but also actively building an environment of safety and comfort for those in need.

The UW Health Shared Governance Professional Development Council in northern Illinois participates in a variety of fundraising drives in the community. One program very close to their hearts for several years now is Rock House Kids.

An evening shelter for youth, located in downtown Rockford, Rock House Kids began in 1999 with a 9-year-old boy who was running away from a dangerous home situation. The founder of Rock House assisted him with food, clothing, school support and other items, and soon after, his friends joined him. Over the years, Rock House Kids has grown to become a safe haven for children in Rockford, providing a safe space for them to get off the streets, have an evening meal and be mentored by loving staff and volunteers.

Several of our UW Health nurses frequently volunteer as mentors, provide food and decorate the building. In November 2023, the council held a stocking stuffer drive that resulted in more than 100 items donated for the kids at Rock House.

“Having a safe space for children in our community to go is so important, and as caregivers, we recognize how Rock House not only addresses immediate health concerns but also contributes to the long-term well-being and happiness of these children,” said Ashley Ponder, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, manager, nursing professional development.

Another local organization that’s near and dear to the UW Health Northern Illinois Professional Development Council is the Rockford Boys & Girls Club. In 2023, nurses (left to right), Marla Maurici, BS, RCS, Heather Danuk, BSN, RN, CV-BC, Sabrina Barnas, BSN, RN, CGRN, Paige Glendenning, MSN, RN-BC and Santa Romero-Arvidson, BSN, RN, CV-BC, were among the council members who held a drive to further support youth who rely on the invaluable services this organization provides.

Check out more stories featuring the great work of our nurses in the Nursing Year in Review 2023 (pdf).