GO GREEN in Summer '17 Teen Program



Staying Centered While The World is Spinning: Personal Leadership Seminar on Wednesday, June 7th at Response Center!

JOIN US for a Personal Leadership Seminar at Response Center on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 from 12:00-3:00pm at Response Center.



Please join Response and other community organizations on Sunday, February 26th from 9:30 a - 12:30 p at this incredible book fair!  At 11 a.m. there will be readings by Jessica Herthel, author of “I am Jazz” and Ami Polonsky, author of “Gracefully Grayson.



Response's 10th Annual Benefit: Tuned Up, Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Event

Tenth Annual Benefit for Response


Honoring Donna Field, Past Response Council Chairperson

Tickets: $90 Adults, $25 Students

Register here:

Proceeds support the counseling, prevention programs, leadership activities and sexual health services Response provides to over 12,000 adolescents and their families each year. Response empowers 12-to 24-year-olds to make healthy life choices.


This annual event pays lasting tribute to our friend Larry Dobkin, a long-time advocate and supporter of Response and the teens we serve.


Chicago Harley Davidson

2929 Patriot Blvd

Glenview, IL 60026



Sunday, March 19th, 2017


5:30pm Hors d’oeuvres Reception

6:30pm Program


Questions? Call 773-467-3896




We have three groups going on at Response, and we would love for you to join us! Check out the info and posters below!


Check out our Gimmie A Mindful Minute group for teens/ young adults looking to learn about mindfulness to lower anxiety and live in the present. Contact Eshley at for information and to sign up!

Our Gendernauts group is an 8 week group for trans and gender exploring youth, looking for a safe supportive environment! Contact Deb at to get started and hear more!


We have an amazing group called You Are Not The Worst for parents looking for support and to connect with other parents raising adolescents. Contact Liz at







Response’s annual Snowball Retreat Weekend was held this past weekend, May 12-14, 2017 at Camp Chi, WI. 

By all accounts, it was AMAZING!  Here are a few pictures of the event so you can share in the fun.  Whether we were enjoying outdoor activities, art creation or expressing ourselves with group cheers, everyone had a great time and the weather was incredible! 

Hope to see you there next year! We’ll be posting information about Snowball 2018 as soon as it is available. 




We have moved to our brand new, awesome space! Come see us!

3033 West Touhy 

Chicago, IL 60645




Please save the date of March 19, 2017. Response will be holding our Annual benefit, Tuned Up, Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Event, featuring an hors d’ oeuvres reception, entertainment and of course… motorcycles! 




Suicide Prevention Month

In the past few months, Response staffs have heard numerous stories related to an increase of suicides among youth and young adults in the communities we serve, as well as across the U.S. The issue has seemed to reach epidemic proportions with devastating trails of loss and heartache for those left behind. While we don’t have any quick solutions, if each of us learn more about what we can do to increase our own awareness, that is certainly a beginning.

Here is a link to NAMI’s information for learning the warning signs and risk factors:



Be the Voice to #StopSuicide

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. 

Be that person.  Follow the link below to take the pledge to let others know you are a safe person to talk with about mental health!


Hello Response Alumni - 

My name is Heather Markey, and I am a Response alumna (Alum? Alumni? Shockingly, my Latin is rusty/robiginosus).   Some of you might remember me as a teen leader in TYDE- Today’s Youth for Drug Education; others might recall that I was a staff member of the Outreach team stationed in Prairie View.  That’s right- I had the fortune of being both a Response teen and staff.  I think of time there as formative and meaningful; Response helped me to grow as a professional but more importantly, as a person.

I remember one of my best friends Mike telling me about this cool teen place that came to his high school to talk about real issues. He also mentioned it was above a bagel place as an additional selling point.  Mike insisted that I would love it and dragged me to a meeting. I agreed under the condition he would buy me a poppy seed bagel.  I was nervous walking up those stairs into Response, not knowing what to expect, but as soon as I entered, I felt so welcome and supported.  The meeting was interesting and fun, and teens and staff made decisions about programming together.  I thought, here is a place that is actually for teens where teens had a chance to be leaders.  I thought, here is a place where I can make a difference. I thought, here is a place that feels like where I belong.

My time as a Response leader guided my professional goals and my college education.  I knew I wanted to help people and create a safe, supportive community that empowers.  When I graduated from college and was looking for a full time job, I saw an opening for an Outreach Prevention Specialist at Response.  I knew I had to get that job; it felt like fate.  I stayed on as staff for over 3 years, and I can tell you without a doubt, my experience at Response helped me discover who I was and what I was passionate about.  I would not be me if not for Response.

I believe most alumni might feel similarly about the formative experience they had at Response.  So when it comes time to make my annual donations, I think of Response. I think that my donation can help a teen go to Snowball, get needed sexual health care, or receive therapeutic services.  Any donation helps!  Skip your Starbucks coffee or that 80th Transformer  sequel.  Donate what it costs for a  Netflix subscription because, let’s be real, we’re borrowing somone else’s password anyway.  If I learned anything from my time at Response, one little thing can make a big difference.

Carpe Diem,


Heather Markey

National Manager of Program Support

Health Leads


2016 Accomplishments and Achievements!  

Fiscal year 16 which ended June 30th, 2016, was a year of connection and service provision for Response.  During the year, we touched the lives of 10,825 individuals via our outreach and prevention programs, counseling and sexual health services.  Outreach staff traveled to 56 different organizations in the community impacting 10,586 students, educators and family members through experiential education topics.  Staff provided 10 sessions for 380 adults related to creating inclusive spaces for LGBTQ youth.  Operation Snowball proved to be our largest retreat ever, with 93 youth in attendance, including 25 teen leaders!  Our counselors provided 111 clients with individual or family therapy and 65 additional clients participated in 8 clinical groups.  The Center for Sexual Health provided comprehensive services to 172 clients over 806 sessions.  Last but not least, thanks to generous funding from Voices, the Chicago Jewish Teen Foundation, Response was able to successfully implement our first Gendernauts support group for gender non-conforming youth. 
Stay connected to see how we’ll be serving in 2017! 

Expanded Community Partnerships

Response is so excited to be partnering with two Jewish day schools to embed a social worker into the community!  Working collaboratively with Chicagoland Jewish High School and Chicago Jewish Day School, as well as REACH (Resources for Educational Achievement, Collaboration and Health, we are currently engaged in interviewing and selecting a candidate that will meet the diverse needs of both schools.  The individual will be providing social work services, consultation, training and support to students, educators and faculty throughout the academic year. Along with the clinical services, both schools will continue to have access to an array of psycho-educational programs that Response offers, including:  bullying prevention, healthy relationships, internet safety, stress management, leadership development programs, individual and family counseling as well as on-site student support groups. Beyond Response’s walls, Jewish Child & Family Services also stands ready to support students, faculty and parents in offering a continuum of services that include psychological testing, early intervention, divorce support services and substance abuse prevention. This new partnership expands the reach of JCFS’s Community Services programs, replicating the successful synagogue/community partnership model.  


From Facebook to Austria!  

Who knew that looking on Facebook one Sunday afternoon would lead me to the opportunity of a lifetime and the ability to have Response/JCFS’s work be part of the next chapter of LGBTQ Jewish life! 

There, on social media, was a posting about an upcoming global summit called Eighteeen22 (  The summary indicated that for three days, 60 young adult Jewish LGBTQ influencers and allies from all over the world would get a chance to come together in Salzburg, Austria to engage in creating positive change and strengthening LGBTQ communities around the world.  

So, 60 people; that didn’t seem like a big group, how were they going to choose? The application process was engaging, and well thought out with questions such as: Tell us about your vision/goals for your work in the LGBTQ world and Give a concrete example of a way you have brought innovation, energy, or creativity to impact your community? The application also required us to make a 1 one minute video of ourselves.  Hello…..  anxiety!    

I was excited and intrigued around this opportunity and thought, “I want to apply!” Three long weeks later, I opened up an email that said “CONGRATULATIONS”.  I was chosen to be part of the inaugural group of individuals who will get a chance to be part of this incredible event.  This opportunity is not just a chance to for my own work, but for that of Response, JCFS, and the larger Chicago Jewish community to be part of the change, part of the impact on making our community one that is open, inclusive and truly an equal and just society.   Participation in this global summit will be an opportunity for the Chicago Jewish community to be linked with other Jewish communities around the world who also lead efforts toward systemic changes.   One goal, among many, put forth by the conveners of Eighteen22 is to create a forum where collaboration is created across professions, so multidimensional impact can be made. 

As members of the Jewish community we have an obligation to work toward Tikun Olam- healing of our world, and the exclusion of any member of our community interferes with us reaching that goal.  At Response, we are doing this work and now we get to expand it to a global level.  

I am beyond excited for this opportunity to be in the presence of 59 other amazing and incredible individuals who I am sure will influence, impact and create change in me, and my work. 


Siegal Eli-Gers, LCSW

Clinician, Response/JCFS


Operation Snowball - a powerful weekend!  

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. 

Response’s North Shore Operation Snowball just recently concluded (March 20-22 2015).  It was a fantastic weekend, full of new friends, great discussions, ridiculous amounts of fun, and time to examine essential ideas.  Participants grappled with identity, decision making, gender, sexuality, substance use, racism, politics, and poverty.  As is so often the case with Snowball….magic happened.  This group of around 80 diverse individuals came together as separate snowflakes and merged into one beautiful Snowball.  Hailing from schools as far away as Urban Prep Academy and Deerfield High School, Response’s Snowball 2015 was a tremendous success. 

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!     


Talking Tips for Parents of Teens

  • Pick your moments and your battles!  Take advantage of opportune moments with your teen. Use whatever information presents itself to open up a dialogue (music, video’s, news articles, information about a friend or family member).  Instead of trying to set a specific time, find a time that feels right, and go from there.
  • Spend some time preparing your ‘opening line.’  Something that will help you and your teen ease into the discussion, so you are confident at the start. Having a conversation starter helps increase your self-confidence. 
  • Establish yourself as an approachable and non-judgmental parent. You want your teen to be able to confide in you and to be honest.  You can best convey this if you remain calm and convey a genuine interest in what they’re trying to tell you.  Before you jump to conclusions, re-iterate what you thought you heard them say, attempting to clarify and make sure you really have all the information before you respond.
  • Know that it’s OK to not always have the correct answer immediately.  We are not supposed to be experts at everything.  Just know where you can go to get the answer, which might include your family physician, the Internet or a community resource such as Response.
  • Broach topics broadly.  Beginning to talk to your child at a young age about sensitive related topics such as general hygiene, taking good care of their body, mind and spirit and modeling healthy behaviors for them are all important contributing factors to maintaining an open dialogue as our children develop into adolescents and young adults. 
  • Respect your child’s level of maturity as well as their potential discomfort with topics you may raise. Sometimes simply starting your conversations with “this may be a bit uncomfortable for both of us but I think that it’s important that you know that you can come to talk with me about anything, including difficult subjects.”  Begin by talking with pre-teens or teens about emerging sexuality, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases. Remind your child to always take their health seriously, and to be aware of any bodily changes that they may notice, encourage them to feel comfortable visiting a doctor if they are concerned that something is wrong.  
  • Follow their lead.  Your initial attempts at having a “first talk” with your child can be met with embarrassment and a clear indication that they are not yet ready which probably means you don’t have to worry about that particular issue at the moment.  Just ensure that the door remains open and let them know that you’ll revisit the topic in a few months, just to check in.
  • Be knowledgeable.  Prior to having a conversation, arm yourself with as much information about the topic as possible.  You can access great Internet sites and books that provide valuable information on a variety of topics.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself!  Understand and acknowledge that you’re not alone.  The majority of parents are NOT comfortable talking about sex, drugs, alcohol, dating etc. with their teens.  Despite our discomfort, this is part of our job. As parents, we cannot assume that our children are getting all the important and correct information at school, from siblings, friends or from the Internet.
  • Not all parents are comfortable having these dialogues with their children and not all teens appreciate having these types of conversations with their parents.  There are appropriate alternatives!  You can be just as helpful by making sure that your teen has access to a resource center in your community with knowledgeable staff members who can provide them (and you) with information and education about all things related to adolescents.  Use us to support you in your very important work of parenting!
  • Incorporate prevention into your conversations.  Educate your teens on how they can prevent certain conditions and/or situations. 
  • Even after you’ve had the “big” conversation, you’ll want to re-visit important, general points over time.  These conversations should not be a one time, one size fits all but rather part of the ongoing building of a healthy, trusting relationship. 



Violence: It's Everywhere (by Eric Crabtree-Nelson, LCSW)

Violence.  It’s everywhere these days.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that we have a real violence problem here in the Chicago area.  Whether it’s the rampant street violence we hear about or live with every day, or whether it’s bullying behavior towards others that persists despite all of the attention and educational programs that have been put in place, violence is an everyday fact of life in our worlds.

Why does this violence persist?  What allows it to continue and continue, spinning off new conflicts, and more individuals damaged, grieving, alone, and angry?  Well, let’s look at media representations of violence.  We see war and conflict every day on our news sources.  We also see multiple personal conflicts that spill over into our worlds.  Jay-Z gets slapped by his sister-in-law, Ray Rice assaults his fiancée and we see what the results of this violence look like.

Let’s take Ray Rice as an example.  We don’t know the backstory behind what happened in the elevator, nor do we know whether this was a repeated pattern of behavior that was glimpsed in that casino in Atlantic City.  What we saw was horrifying enough.  A professional football player steps out of an elevator, as his fiancée slumps to the ground beside him.  He drags her out of the elevator and lays her down.  He appears to be agitated as security approaches him before the video cuts off.

How are we to respond?  This clearly was an act of intimate partner violence.  The NFL has the right and the obligation, as this individual’s employer to pass some form of judgment.  Really, they have the obligation as part of our national pastime, to speak out against this form of violence in the strongest possible terms.  So, with that in mind, the two game suspension that they handed to Ray Rice is really insulting to all of us.

When the NFL wants to make a big deal of something, they generally go all in.  Think of Breast Cancer Awareness month and all of the pink that was displayed league wide on uniforms and through awareness at games.  This just must not rate a high enough priority, or be marketable in the same way that Breast Cancer Awareness is.  By the NFL being a bystander to this violence, it has encouraged all of us to ignore it as well.  There were many ways to deal with this- including a harsher penalty for Ray.  But also, what about the NFL supporting Domestic Violence Awareness Month, or how about a series of public service announcements by key NFL players reminding fans to keep their cool, and seek professional help if they believe they are part of a domestically violent relationship.     

Unfortunately far too many of us are bystanders to violence.  Whether this is in our own lives, in our politics, or in the entertainment or causes we support.  Fortunately, it’s not too late for the NFL, nor is it too late for us.  Any step towards raising awareness and action is a step in the right direction.    



The good news is, we can do most anything more efficiently and connect with friends and family members 24/7 with the wonders of technology!  On the other hand, technology follows us everywhere; from brushing our teeth in the morning to turning in for the night.  There is, literally, no escape!  For tweens and teens, this sense of being attached to an “electronic leash” can have negative consequences, including bullying behavior, sexting, online dating, etc.  Know how to set reasonable boundaries around the use of technology in your family and you’ll be way ahead of the curve.  

1.       Establish techno guidelines for the whole family and stick to them

2.       Remember: if your teen is awake, they’re probably “online”

3.       Model your family values around face to face interaction

4.       Set up a “no tech night” and, instead, institute a weekly board game night

5.       Talk the talk and walk the walk of “Empathy”

6.       Teach them that what they send out there lasts 4-ever!

7.        Figure out “addiction” vs. “techno-balance”

8.        Unplug!  Everyone and Everything - including yourself

9.        Understand there’s a healthy balance – don’t ban all technology

10.      Set up appropriate consequences in advance if the guidelines are violated 


Donate to the Larry Dobkin Memorial Endowment Fund



With the lead support of Greenberg Traurig and other generous donors, Jewish Child & Family Services has established a perpetual tribute in Larry Dobkin’s name to benefit Response, a program that was close to his heart.

Your gift to the Larry Dobkin Memorial Endowment Fund to be held within the JCFS Endowment Foundation will provide income in perpetuity to help Response provide counseling, outreach and reproductive health services for teens throughout the city and suburbs.

As further recognition of Larry’s tremendous impact, your gift to this fund will help ensure that Response’s annual community event, which was so meaningful to Larry, will be named in his memory Tuned In: The Larry Dobkin Teen Music Showcase.

While there will never be a way to fully fill the void left with Larry’s passing, together we can ensure that his memory will forever help those to whom he gave so much.

There are serveral ways to contribute to the Endowment Fund:

Cash - A one-time payment or a pledge paid over time. Please make checks payable to JCFS Endowment Foundation and write Larry Dobkin Fund in the memo line.

Bequest - A simple statement in your will, leaving a dollar amount or percentage of your estate property.

Life Insurance or IRA - Name JCFS the policy beneficiary.

Charitable Gift Annuity - In return for a donation, the donor receives regular, fixed payments for life.

**For more information on the Larry Dobkin Endowment fund, please contact Barbara Chandler at 312-673-3211. A special Thanks to Greenberg Traurig.

Click here to make a donation to The Larry Dobkin Memorial Endowment Fund


Choosing the Right Overnight Camp For Your Child

Chicago area parents tend to think ahead.  We have to, don’t we?  If we want our child to get into that swim class or on to that soccer team, we know what we need to do.  Usually start researching what is available, that’s also in our area, many months, and sometimes as much as a year ahead of time.  We need to know that in order to get in to our desired activity at our desired time, it will take registering as early as possible; sometimes standing in a long line if we have not been involved in this activity before.

All of this work ahead of time parallels what we will likely need to do in order for our child to have a happy, healthy, and enjoyable summer at an overnight camp.

Overnight camps for many children on the North Shore are a rite of passage.  Different schools and communities seem to favor different camps, and it can be easy to fall in to just going with the choice that others in the community are using.  I would recommend, however, that parents spend some time doing a little more research than, “Well, Alex is going to Camp NorthWoods, so why can’t I?”

Certainly camp is a social situation, so knowing that there are friends and acquaintances from home that go there can ease the worries of your young camper.  On the other hand, there is certainly something to be said for different camp cultures and activities.  Remember, many camps are built around common activities or categories.  Religious camps, sports camps, adventure camps, scout camps, coed camps, boys camps, and girls camps all exist and probably have a group of students attending from your campers community.

Many camp directors, especially at private camps, will travel to you to speak with you about their camp and its charms.  This is a great way to learn more about the camp and ask pointed questions.  Many camps charge a hefty sum, so gaining some idea of where your investment of dollars is going is a smart choice.

Given that your camper is typically going to be away from you for either 4 or 8 weeks, this is a great opportunity to ask questions that will help inform your decision. Here are a few sample questions to be thinking about from a social/emotional angle.

  1. Who is the person who will regularly be in charge of my child?  Is there a way to meet them or to contact them over the summer?  
  2. What is the emphasis of the camp?  Is it sports, sports, sports, or is it broader based?  Is it wilderness adventure?  Is it religious studies, or is it theater camp? Are the activities well-suited to my child, and is there enough variety that they won’t get bored or feel undone by the overt competition?
  3. What is the camp’s plan for homesickness? What about if there is someone bullying your child while at camp?  What are the rules and limits associated with being at camp?
  4. What are the ways my camper can get their needs met at camp without resorting to parental calls to the directors?  Will communication with my child be encouraged or discouraged?
  5. What are the rules I, as a parent, need to abide by?  And how can I make this summer the most fun my child has ever had?

Most camps should be willing and able to answer all of these questions.  In the end you are entrusting your child to this camp, and most of the camps I have seen are well versed in what their campers need.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to ask the advice of others; parents, professionals, and yes…the internet.

Happy camping!