Fox Valley Hands of Hope Recent News

Thank you for your interest in learning more about Fox Valley Hands of Hope.
For media inquiries, please contact Greg Weider, executive director, by phone at: 630-232-2233.

Geneva, Ill. – (June 10, 2018) – Fox Valley Hands of Hope is now seeking participants for Guiding Star, a new program supporting adults who have gone through the death of a parent or parental figure – their “Guiding Star”.

There is no cost to the program, which is completely funded by donations to the organization. Guiding Star will be held Tuesday evenings, July 10 to August 21, 2018 at Hands of Hope offices at 200 Whitfield Drive in Geneva. Participation is free, but registration is required.

“People play down the loss of a parent because it’s expected within the cycle of life, but parent loss can be difficult, due to feelings of your own mortality and loss of generational roots,” said Christy Pitol, LCSW, and manager of bereavement for Hands of Hope.

Pitol pointed to the changing historical nature of parent/child relationships as an additional challenge in the loss of parents.

“Younger generations are closer to their parents and they’re leaving their childhood homes later than Baby Boomers did, so parental loss is impacting younger adults in a different, more multilayered, fashion,” Pitol said. “Additionally, adults may be caring for their parents on a perpetual basis due to early-onset dementia and other conditions. When the death occurs, they’ve not only lost their parent, but they’ve also lost their own role as a caregiver.”

All these factors, and more will be addressed by the new Guiding Star group program. To register or for more information contact Pitol at 630-232-2233 x 230 or via email at

Since 1981, Fox Valley Hands of Hope has worked to enhance the quality of life and provide hope to those experiencing grief or life-threatening illnesses. The organization’s staff and trained volunteers offer support through dozens of unique programs to assist those in grief. Fox Valley Hands of Hope is supported entirely by the community, and all services are available free of charge.

For more info:
Susan Stoga

March 22, 2018 – Whether you’re mourning the loss of your mother, or you’re a parent reeling from the loss of an infant or child, new programs at Fox Valley Hands of Hope can help you get through the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day season.

All programs offered by Fox Valley Hands of Hope are free to the community, although advance registration may be required.

Special Program: ‘HONORING MY MOTHER’
This new support program from FVHH is for adults who have experienced the death of their mothers. Program facilitators will explore the many ways in which a mother’s influence contributes to who we are as adults. Coping with grief, changed roles within the family, regret, gratitude, forgiveness, and dreams lost and renewed are just some of the topics discussed. This special program provides a safe place to express grief — and to share your memories of Mom.
WHEN: Monday, May 7, 2018
Registration required; for more information, contact Christy Pitol or call her at 630-232-2233 x230.

Families grieving the death of a baby due to perinatal loss are invited to participate in FVHH’s annual Footprints Memorial Walk, to be held May 5 at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin IL. All family members and friends who have been affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or infant loss are invited to participate in this remembrance service.
WHEN: Saturday, May 5, 2018, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
WHERE: Bluff City Cemetery, 845 Bluff City Boulevard, Elgin IL (GOOGLE MAPS)

Registration recommended; contact FVHH at or call 630-232-2233 for more information.


For ongoing support, our six-week Footprints group program is for parents coping with a recent miscarriage ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or newborn death. Footprints provides small-group discussions where participants can find strength and comfort when sharing with other parents who are going through similar experiences — in turn, helping each other through the grief process. Footprints sessions include discussions on the stages of grief, how men and women grieve differently, managing special dates and holidays, and knowing when you’re ready to move on with your life. Short-term, individual counseling also is available, at no charge, when the Footprints group is not in session. Spanish-language interpretation is available upon request.
WHEN: For upcoming dates, contact Christy Pitol at or call her at 630-232-2233 x230

One of FVHH’s most popular and successful programs, Herbie’s Friends is designed to help grieving families cope with loss. Herbie’s Friends sessions treat families with children ages 5-18 to a meal and group activities led by trained facilitators. Youth participants are welcomed into small groups according to age range, while adults meet separately — at the same time and at the same location — to learn about their children’s grief and to receive their own support. Spanish-language interpretation is available upon request.
WHEN: The next Herbie’s Friends program starts May 15 and runs through June 12. All sessions are held on Tuesday evenings at FVHH offices in Geneva IL
Registration required; contact Jill Thorson at 630-232-2233 x225 for more information, or email Jill at

February 19, 2018 – Fox Valley Hands of Hope announces Gayle Deja-Schultz has joined the organization as its Director of Development. Previously, Deja-Schultz was Director of Special Events and Development at the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago.

“I am thrilled to be the newest member of the team at Fox Valley Hands of Hope,” Ms. Deja-Schultz said. “With my diverse background, I hope to implement my many years of business development and special event experience to assist FVHH in raising awareness to a new level throughout the communities it serves, and surpassing fundraising goals, event attendance and sponsorships beyond any previous years.”

At the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Ms. Deja-Schultz was responsible for the organization’s events and fundraising initiatives and for developing donor and sponsorship programs to achieve their financial goals. During her career she also worked with associations, corporations and not-for-profit organizations to help them build their business development, marketing, public relations and special events programs. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the International Live Events Association, and is a Certified Meeting Planner.

A strong community leader, Ms. Deja-Schultz (pictured) served as President of the Kaneland WINS group for women in business, and is a past board member with Kane County Senior Resources and DeKalb Women in Management. She volunteers with the Meals-On-Wheels Program and Senior Services Associates, and participates in Alzheimer’s Association events. In 2011, she assisted in amending Illinois state legislation that placed distance restrictions on protesters at funerals and memorial services, and she considers this one of her proudest accomplishments as a community activist and Illinois resident.

“I am truly excited to have Gayle on our team,” said FVHH Executive Director Greg Weider. “The experience she brings to our organization is going to help us reach new levels of success in our development and communications efforts.”

Ms. Deja-Schultz and her family reside in Sugar Grove, Ill.

Meet Gayle Deja-Schultz at the upcoming “Viva Villa Verone” fundraising dinner, March 4 in Geneva.

January 24, 2018 – There’s hope for spring! Fox Valley Hands of Hope announces that its annual Garden Party fundraising event – featuring silent and live auctions, a bevy of showcase raffles, a fashion show, and a full luncheon – will be held Friday, May 25, at the Q Center in St. Charles, Illinois.

The Garden Party will be emceed this year by St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina.

“We’re delighted and honored to have Mayor Rogina join us this year as our program emcee,” said Greg Weider, Executive Director of Fox Valley Hands of Hope. “Last year’s Garden Party treated hundreds of attendees to more than 130 silent auction items, breathtaking showcases for lucky raffle winners, a live auction and more – and we’re planning this year’s event to be even more spectacular.”

(Right: Attendees enjoying the festivities at the 2017 Garden Party. FVHH photo)

Fox Valley Hands of Hope provides critical support to adults, children and families experiencing grief and loss. In the last year alone, FVHH served nearly 1,400 men, women and children with volunteer-driven support services and more than a dozen support groups, including school-based programs. All services are provided free of charge.

The Garden Party is FVHH’s largest annual fundraising event. Tickets to attend the 2018 Garden Party go on sale April 18.

Area businesses and organizations are lining up to sponsor the 2018 Garden Party, and are led by the The Hoffer Foundation, EFS Foundation, Batavia Enterprises Inc. and Miscella Real Estate. A range of sponsorship packages and benefits are available; please contact Mary Green at 630-232-2233 or at for information and options.

January 16, 2018 – Fox Valley Hands of Hope (FVHH) announces James Diorio and Sherri Dublin have joined its 2017-18 Board of Directors.

Sherri Dublin is Vice President of Diversity Programs at Nielsen, where she manages the company’s nine global employee resources groups (ERGs) and its ERG leadership development program, and is accountable for the strategy and execution of Nielsen’s global diversity and inclusion training and development. Ms. Dublin lives in Carpentersville, Illinois.

James Diorio is President of Yurs Funeral Homes, with two locations serving Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles, Illinois. Mr. Diorio lives in St. Charles.

Mr. Diorio and Ms. Dublin join what is now a 12-member Board of Directors at Fox Valley Hands of Hope. Additional Board members include Gary Axen, Timberland Financial Group; Joseph Baron (Board President); Bev DeJovine, Strategic Frameworks; Brandon Hoeft, North Central College; Ed Hunter, Presence Health St. Joseph/Presence Mercy Center; Carolyn Jansons, Drendel & Jansons Law Group; Dr. John Mason, Dickens, Mason & Kissell DDS Ltd; Dr. Christine Mueller, High Touch Medicine; Jack Saylors (Board Vice President and Secretary); and David Weisman, The Partnering Group (Board Treasurer).

The community can meet the board members of Fox Valley Hands of Hope this spring at the organization’s largest annual fundraiser, the Garden Party, which will be held May 25 at the Q Center in St. Charles. The event features silent and live auctions, nearly 20 showcase raffles, and a full luncheon. Tickets to attend the 2018 Garden Party will go on sale in April. For area businesses and organizations, a range of sponsorship opportunities are available; please contact Mary Green at 620-232-2233 x 228 or at for information.

From our news archives:

October 29, 2015 – Fox Valley Hands of Hope is the new name for the volunteer-driven, nonprofit organization previously known as Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice. The name more closely aligns to the services the organization provides. It reflects a new strategic direction to expand services that provide hope for those experiencing grief while continuing to provide supportive care to those who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

Since 1981, the organization has served more than 22,000 clients and their families in the greater Fox Valley area. “While our name and vision are new, we are retaining our deep roots in the local communities we serve, and we will continue to provide the highest level of compassionate care to those in need, at no cost,” said Greg Weider, executive director of Fox Valley Hands of Hope.

“We are creating a better connection between our organization’s strengths and the needs of the local community. This connection allows Fox Valley Hands of Hope to expand and more effectively deliver its core services of bereavement support and volunteer-based supportive care to those needing hope. Fox Valley Hands of Hope will continue to play an important role in addressing the challenges of loss of life, providing the training, resources, support and best practices upon which our clients and their families have come to depend,” Weider said.

October 29, 2015 – Fox Valley Hands of Hope has received a capital improvements grant from The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley. The grant, in the amount of $9,600, is designated for a new medical equipment washer.

Fox Valley Hands of Hope has a lending closet where members of the community in need can borrow medical equipment free of charge.  This includes items such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, commodes and shower chairs.  The grant for the equipment washer will allow the agency to provide the essential service of effectively cleaning and sterilizing the equipment before it is loaned out.

The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley is a non-profit philanthropic organization that administers individual charitable funds from which grants and scholarships are distributed to benefit the citizens of the Greater Aurora Area, the Tri-Cities and Kendall County, Illinois. Further information about the Community Foundation is available at