BECOME A FOLLOWER of Leyden Family Services

| April 4, 2013
Donna Chiariello Santoro, Chief Executive Officer of Leyden Family Services along with Maria Panno, Fundraising Committee Chairperson (on right)

Donna Chiariello Santoro, Chief Executive Officer of Leyden Family Services along with Maria Panno, Fundraising Committee Chairperson (on right)

BECOME A FOLLOWER of Leyden Family Services

If you want to come face to face with true dedication, look no further than Donna Chiariello Santoro, Chief Executive Officer of Leyden Family Services. I met with Donna on a brisk, sunny day at her office on Grand Avenue, so it was not only sunny outside, but Donna’s welcoming smile lit up the room inside too. Accompanying her was Maria Panno who Donna described as her fundraising person. Maria liked what she saw in Leyden Family Services and decided to volunteer her time to help.  I got the distinct impression that they work well together (and they take a nice picture too) and will do great things for Leyden Family Services.

Donna explained that in the past fundraising wasn’t all that necessary as funding came from sources such as the township and the state. Unfortunately, with budget cuts, the budget has dwindled from $7.8 million to $6.5 million; a huge gap to make up. For instance, Donna said, “We used to receive $600,000 from United Way, we now receive $460,000.” Donna explained that different grants are found to help support programs, but those grants run out and then they are faced with, “what now?”

Consequently, they have been forced to not only conduct their annual major fundraiser but plan three more fundraisers during the year. So far, they are hosting a fashion show in April, which has already sold out, a 5k walk and are currently selling World’s Finest Chocolate.  Proceeds from that fundraiser will help update the website.   On a side note, their food pantry accepts donations all year.

Although fundraising is important, Donna pointed out that their main goal is to bring awareness to the surrounding communities about the programs they offer.  “Not many families are aware of the services we have,” explained Donna. And unfortunately, as she continued, the economy has many people turning to substance abuse. “The times make the need greater and we simply can’t turn people down,” Donna commented. “Our services are beneficial and cost effective. Treatment works.” There is a large number of “working poor” but as Donna said they have a limited pool of funds to service them.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, Donna’s true dedication to Leyden Family Services spans 29 years. She’s a licensed clinical social worker with an extensive business background. Although her career started out in sales and software, she decided to go back to school for her degree, as her original job with National Cash Register was not satisfying or fulfilling. She started out with Leyden Family Services in their Norwood Park location; a small one room office. As Leyden Family Services grew, so did Donna’s position in the organization gradually working up from supervisor to manager, all the way up to Chief Executive Officer. She has definitely found her calling, as her pride and enthusiasm for Leyden Family Services flowed out with every sentence. You couldn’t help but want to get involved.

Leyden Family Services covers ten different towns of Leyden Township and some adjacent areas. Services include mental health programs, alcohol rehabilitation, after-care programs, social services and senior services. Donna is passionate about her work at Leyden Family Services and as she explained, “someone has to do it.” She continued saying, “From birth to death, we provide services for everyone and for just about everything.”

To volunteer, donate or for information on their services, contact them at 847-451-0330. They are located at 10001 W. Grand Avenue, Franklin Park, IL 60131. 

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