Operation Snowball

Operation Snowball can best be described as summer packed into a weekend. It’s a trip planned and led by teens that provides an opportunity for students to meet and connect with peers from all over the Chicagoland area. With support from Response staff, our Teen Leaders run a weekend full of fun activities and discussions around topics especially relevant to teens, like substance abuse prevention, depression, diversity, stress management, sexuality, dating violence and many more.

Why Snowball is so Powerful

Operation Snowball is a substance free retreat for high school age youth.  It is a national organization that sponsors local chapters, which each run their own weekend retreats.  These retreats are led by Teen Leaders with assistance and support from adult volunteers.   Schools and community centers typically sponsor chapters and assist in developing their local Snowball.   

At first glance Snowball doesn’t appear to be much different than other high school trips.  But Snowball weekend is so much more than the sum of its parts.  First, and most importantly, it works because all of the education is done by teens, for teens.  This concept is central to the idea of Snowball and lends itself to teens being more willing to hear the messages presented.  Secondly, Snowball works because every youth present is equal and has a voice in discussions facilitated throughout the weekend.  Lastly, these youth-led discussions are created within “Safe Spaces”, where ideas can be debated and divergent views examined. 

Snowball 2016 planning has already begun!  Save the dates of April 15th - 17th , 2016.  The weekend promises to be fantastic, with opportunities to develop new friendships, engage in great discussions, ridiculous amounts of fun, and time to examine essential ideas.  Participants grapple with topics like identity, decision making, gender, sexuality, substance use, racism, politics, and poverty.  As is so often the case with Snowball….magic happens!  We hope to have 100 participants this next year, with students hailing from schools as far away as Urban Prep Academy , Highland Park and Deerfield High Schools and many more.

If you’re inspired, please join us next year as we take part in Snowball 2016.  We’re always on the lookout for great Teen Leaders (high school age), supportive Adult Leaders, and fantastic Partner Organizations.  Without all of you, none of this is possible!  

Operation Snowball is supported by the Highland Park Community Foundation (http://www.hpcommunityfoundation.com/), the Jewish United Fund (http://juf.org/), Jewish Child & Family Services (http://jcfs.org/), The Barbara and Frank Lieber Charitable Trust and individual charitable donations.


Youth For Change: Response’s Teen Advisory Board

Response’s first teen advisory board! YFC is committed to the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, or man’s shared responsibility to heal, repair, and transform the world. YFC leaders will have the opportunity to meet with Response’s Advisory Council (RAC) a non-profit board of community members working on behalf of teens, youth and families in your communities.  Youth leaders will learn more about non-profit operations, fundraising, social service protocols and procedures. Through partnerships with local organizations, paired with community service projects implemented by the youth themselves, YFC explores local issues effecting youth and the communities they live in. YFC promotes and encourages social responsibility and social activism as essential characteristics of youth leadership and development. For more information contact: sarahcasper@jcfs.org


Parent & Family Connection

Are you a Jewish parent of an LGBTQ youth or young adult who may be having difficulty with their child’s coming out process? Would you like to speak with another parent who has experienced everything you’re experiencing and can offer the kind of first-hand advice you’ve been seeking? If so, we’d like to connect you with a trained mentor through our Parent & Family Connection program! If interested, please email RachelMarro@jcfs.org for details.


Parent & Family Connection Meeting

Our monthly support and education group for Jewish parents of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning) youth and young adults. New members always welcome—contact RachelMarro@jcfs.org for more information.


Alliance - (summer program only)

Wednesdays 3:30-5:30, weekly starting June 19th


9304 N. Skokie Blvd, Skokie 60077

Alliance is Response’s summer Gay-Straight Alliance, for high schoolers from across the area. It’s the perfect program for anyone interested in engaging with LGBTQ issues and meeting new allies! We’ll be having discussions, watching movies, and going on trips. Program is free—Contact RachelMarro@jcfs.org for more information or to RSVP.