UVC Announces Annual Awards

May 15, 2017

United Voices for Children has announced the recipients of its 2017 annual awards for outstanding advocacy and service for children and youth in Northern Illinois.  The Bishop Jesse R. Dewitt Award will be given to two recipients.  Lorena Cory of First U.M. Church Arlington Heights is being honored for founding and facilitating Pinwheels, a support group for families with gender-creative children.   The Rev. Dr. William Lenters is recognized for his 19 years of service as chaplain at Rosecrance.

These persons will be honored at the United Voices for Children (UVC) Breakfast on Tuesday morning, June 6th, at 6:45 a.m. during the Northern Illinois Annual Conference session at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.  To make a reservation for the gala UVC Breakfast ($20/person) contact by May 24th.

Lorena Cory is the founder of Pinwheels, a support group for families with gender creative children. Lorena started Pinwheels in March 2011 out of her family’s needs. Since then, this unique support group has steadily grown to more than 100 members meeting monthly in two locations.  Parents who have experience with a gender creative child gather with parents who are new to this journey to build relationships, share resources and offer support to one another. Lorena facilitates the meetings with dedication and reaches out to the members with compassion. Her advocacy work for trans children and their families goes beyond the church walls. Pinwheels is the only known faith-based program of its kind—though people of all or no faiths are welcome. The focus is on love and acceptance and learning to advocate for trans justice in the schools, community, and nation. 

Cory is also the director of Sound Foundation, the youth choir for her congregation. One of the youth participants notes that fifteen youth look forward to rehearsal each week because of the sense of safety that Lorena provides. The youth know they can be themselves in that space; they can share joys and concerns and are met with compassion, care, and prayer. Lorena is the mother of three children and a private voice instructor with studios in two high schools and her home. Her oldest daughter is transgender and her family is on an amazing journey together.

The Rev. Dr. William Lenters serves as chaplain at the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus in Rockford. Each week Bill leads spirituality, grief and loss groups for teens and young adults seeking treatment for substance use disorders. And he meets one-on-one with young clients who have questions and concerns about faith, or who are struggling with various challenges during treatment. Additionally, Bill counsels young adult and adult clients at Rosecrance Lakeview, a substance abuse recovery home and outpatient clinic in Chicago.  Bill also writes quarterly recovery-focused columns titled “Bread for the Journey” that are distributed to clergy and lay leaders throughout Northern Illinois. The columns are written on behalf of all who suffer from addictions to help church leaders better understand the disease of addiction and how they can help. Bill pens monthly “View from the Pew” email musings about spirituality and recovery and provides content for a special Twitter account called “Rosecrance 12 Tweets,” modeled after the 12 Steps.   

For 19 years at Rosecrance, Bill has counseled people who are vulnerable and broken down by guilt and shame. He disarms adolescents and young adults who are angry, distrusting, and questioning faith and God by listening to their fears and concerns and countering them with acceptance. Bill does all of that with a laid-back demeanor and a sense of humor that can be both silly and hilarious. In his own words: “Recovery is spiritually grounded in acknowledgement of powerlessness, a need for a greater power.” Before coming to Rosecrance, Lenters served as campus minister at Purdue University, parish pastor at churches in Chicago and Cleveland and chaplain at a treatment center in Phoenix.