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Civic leader and NCH Foundation Trustee Dede Wamberg refers to the Hospital's Youth Center for adolescent addiction treatment as a "one-of-a-kind" program. She says, "As Chicagoland's only private residential treatment program focused exclusively on adolescents, this center is a critical resource for families facing addiction."
Dede is so impressed by the program's comprehensive, family-oriented approach, that she's spearheading a new initiative to support it. Under her leadership, donors and ambassadors who share Dede's passion for The Youth Center as a philanthropic cause will be invited to join The Youth Center Support Council.
Council members will contribute to projects such as a financial assistance fund to extend care to families in need. Gifts will also strengthen the center's unusually rigorous educational program. The staff believes keeping up with schoolwork and preparing for college or a career are key to recovery, so residential patients are required to spend three to three-and-a-half hours each weekday in educational pursuits.
Northwest Community's Youth Center opened in May 2004 in response to an unprecedented number of local teen deaths from drug overdose and a growing epidemic of adolescent substance abuse in the northwest suburbs. Dede admires the Hospital's decision to create The Youth Center and believes it reflects a deep commitment to the community's needs.
"The program works because it addresses the physical, social and emotional aspects of addiction," says Dede, who is also an enthusiastic Youth Center donor. "It's not just a band-aid. It's major surgery."
Foundation Vice President David Ungurean notes that the center was a cooperative venture between NCH and the people it serves from the very beginning. Ungurean says, "The community responded generously to help Northwest Community offer this service to our youth. Area residents contributed $1.5 million in charitable gifts to renovate the building that houses the program."
Since the facility's opening, charitable gifts of more than $1 million have helped fund everything from team-building activities to research initiatives at The Youth Center. Most importantly, the community's support helps ensure that hundreds of young people have a second chance at life every year. As Dede says, "What better return could one possibly receive for a charitable investment?"