IOLS In the News

Huntley Patch Features IOLS’ 2nd Annual Toy Drive Efforts

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IOLS Seeks to Stamp Out Child Abuse

It’s Our Little Secret celebrates second year of helping children “Learn to Live, Not Just Survive”
By Claudia Lenart

November 14, 2011

It’s Our Little Secret (IOLS) celebrates two years, this month, of bringing hope and healthy recovery skills to children who are physically, emotionally and sexually abused.

Kristie Sams-Faulkner and Maebelle Obispo

Kristie and Maebelle taking time to speak during the 2011 Toy Drive

In the past two years, the non-profit organization has launched numerous successful initiatives and leaders continue to focus on ambitious goals.

“We have a lot of thing going on and we’ve been extremely successful. I think that is 100 percent because of the passion,” said Kristie Sams-Faulkner who founded IOLS with Maebelle Obispo-Emery. Both were abused as children.

Both founders live busy lives, yet find time and energy to devote to IOLS.

“ If you have the ability to change and to make change, that is something that takes over,” Sams-Faulkner said.

IOLS’ aims to stop the destructive cycle of abuse and to help abused children learn to love themselves and enjoy life. The organization’s motto is “Learn to Live, Not Just Survive.”

In the first year of existence, IOLS jumped right in to action with a book bag drive which donated 170 book bags to children. Two weeks later IOLS held a toy drive that provided three toys each to 360 kids, plus blankets for every child.

Sams-Faulkner said their toy drive was different from many other organizations in that the children got what was on their wish list, including big items, like bikes or MP3 players. The drive was for children up to 18, whereas many organizations stop at 15.

“Everything was 100 percent new, not used. If you don’t have anything and you’re given something new, that is huge for your self esteem,” Sams-Faulkner said.

This year, IOLS’s goal for the toy drive is to serve 600 kids. The organization continued its book bag drive in 2011, expanding it to provide books for libraries and supplies for students and teachers.

Sams-Faukner said journey packs have had a huge impact. Journey packs are provided to children going into the foster system.

One of the biggest challenges in the beginning was finding the victims.

“It was difficult in the beginning because a lot of people don’t like to talk about what they are suffering,” Sams-Faulkner said. “Sexual abuse is reported rarely. Physical abuse is easier to see,”

The organization worked with DCFS and also with teachers to determine who needed help.

IOLS started clinical programs including a teen support group, an art and music therapy group and an adult survivors support group.

IOLS leaders have big goals for the future. One of them is a residential facility that would provide a home for 36 children and provide arts program. Direct Design LTD in Prairie Grove donated an architectural rendering and IOLS is seeking a donation of land for the project.

IOLS hopes to have a stamp made from the United States Postal Service for abused children and created the Stamp Out Child Abuse Drawing Contest to submit artwork to the USPS that represents child abuse in the eyes of a child. IOLS is also working to get an Illinois license plate to raise awareness and funds.

Sams-Faulkner said she wants to see the Blue Ribbon Child Abuse Prevention Campaign become as well known as the pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness.

“I’d like to see the blue ribbons be as important as pink ribbons. I want to create an army of people who cared about what I care about,” she said.