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ILYA (Independent Living for Young Adults) is a social action program that helps the Delaware Division of Family Services support young adults aging out of foster care. ILYA offers nine projects that provide assistance and encouragement in ways that State funding and personnel are unable to do. A program first initiated at First U in 2005, ILYA enters its nineteenth year engaging members of UUSMC (Unitarian Universalist Society of Millcreek) and UUFN (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark) to join their fellow UUs at First U in these efforts.

At a January 8th service at UUFN before a Share-the-Plate collection there, Stephanie Cloud and Barbara Crowell gave a brief overview of ILYA, leading a number of members to request more information about the program.

The next week, on January 15th, Rev. Greg Pelley, minister at UUSMC, inspired by Rev. Larry last year, dedicated his sermon to interviewing two ILYA graduates about their experiences transitioning to adulthood and how ILYA projects helped them. Kathie Stamm, a member of both First U and UUSMC, served as Worship Associate for the service. Charlotte Grabau, Stephanie Cloud, and Barbara Crowell also attended and, with Kathie, talked with UUSMC members about ILYA after the service. The collection taken that day was donated to ILYA.

Members of both congregations who had expressed an interest in learning more about ILYA were invited to one of two follow-up “Learn About ILYA” Zoom sessions in February and March, leading some attendees to commit their services to ILYA projects. UUFN’s Social Justice Committee has designated Daniel Kwasnieski to serve as UUFN’s representative on the ILYA Leadership Team. Welcome, Daniel!

Not to go unnoticed, UUCD (Unitarian Universalists of Central Delaware) in Dover also took a Share-the-Plate collection for ILYA, recognizing the services ILYA has been offering the past two years to young adults in Kent County.

The generous and caring members of First U who have supported ILYA all these years should take pride that this program is expanding to our sister congregations and bringing our fellow UUs to together in furtherance of our shared social justice values.

This link will lead you to the ILYA graduates’ conversation with Rev. Greg Pelley at UUSMC on January 15th. We find it an informative and moving conversation.