All posts by Judith McLean

You all are such caring and generous people! Thank you so much for all the love, support and gifts for Giving Tuesday. More than $56,000 was donated, surpassing our goal and breaking our records from 2013.

The Coleman Foundation and Jet Brite Car Wash have matched your donations which clearly inspired everyone to dig deep. All gifts, large and small, make such a difference.

With so many worthy non-profits in the area, we are simply thrilled that you support us in such a big hearted way. If you missed out, you can visit us on-line anytime.

#GivingTuesday #ShareTheCare #OurDonorsAreTheBest #CityofBigShoulders

Join us for the annual west suburban gala benefitting AHK Naperville! This year we celebrate the legendary rivalry between Chicagoland baseball fans at the Crosstown Classic at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook on Friday, April 24, 2020. Hosted by the renowned entertainer and National Anthem singer, Wayne Messmer, AHK’s Crosstown Classic will feature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, silent and live auction, dinner and live music as well as lively ballpark-themed activities!

Cocktail attire with a nod to your favorite team’s colors is encouraged.

Image courtesy of Cassidy Johnson and the Columbia Chronicle

Thanks to Stephen Grisko at Guaranteed Rate, we have a brand new video to share featuring one of our amazing families – The Browns.

Stephen Grisko is a talented marketing professional who creates and produces commercials and ad campaigns for the mortgage company. He turned his talents to a pro bono project documenting some of our AHK families, the first ones being the Brown’s, for what we hope will be a series of several AHK family stories.

Josie Brown came to AHK Naperville for transitional care and parents Laura and Jeff have been instrumental in helping us with a parent testimonial during the rate increase sessions in Springfield and gave the parent testimonial at our most recent gala in Chicago – they will speak again in April at our Naperville gala. They are an amazing family, and we are really grateful to them for all their advocacy and for opening up their home and allowing us to film them.

Since filming this segment, they have learned that their son Robbie has also been diagnosed with Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS), the same diagnosis as Josie – it’s a very rare condition afflicting only 1,200 people worldwide. They know that Almost Home Kids is here for them, and ready to support the family as their safety-net in the community.

Get fit and have fun as you benefit Almost Home Kids!

Join AHK’s Young Associates Board for a barre fitness class on Saturday, November 9, 2019 at Noon at The Bar Method Wicker Park, 1271 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL. Register here:

All proceeds benefit Almost Home Kids. At Almost Home Kids our mission is to provide a bridge from hospital to home for children with medical complexities by educating and empowering families with the training, skills and confidence needed, to care for their child at home; coordinating all the community-based medical and social services the child and family will need providing respite care when needed in a home-like setting.

Masses of thanks to everyone who attended, contributed and sponsored the Share the Care Ball this year. We broke a record for the most amount raised and had a fabulous time in the process!

A huge thanks to our sponsors FirstMidwestBank, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, CotterConsulting, BrownBrothersHarriman, Neuco, Greenridge Farm, McKinsey & Company, CA Ventures, Polsinelli, Epsilon, LifeTech, United Airlines, Merge, Vin Chicago, Yanni Design Studio, SpeedPro Imaging and Richard & Rebecca Mark, and special thanks to Laura and Jeff Brown for sharing their story, Ken Arlen for hosting, and to our wonderful committee led by Terri and Jen who made it all happen and Dr. Peter J. Smith and Commissioner Karen Tamley for allowing us too honor them for all they have done for AHK and the incomparable Jim Miller auctioneer extraordinaire.

Physical therapy is an important service we offer all children staying at Almost Home Kids. Transitioning from the hospital means that they may have had limited opportunities for movement and typical developmental experiences. While they are at Almost Home Kids, physical therapy sessions can help strengthen muscles to allow for appropriate motor skill development, all while encouraging activities in a play-based manner.

Tummy time is crucial to help musculoskeletal development to help babies roll, crawl, sit and eventually walk. Wakeful tummy time is something that can be made a routine through carry and play activities – it becomes a very fun but important routine.

We are very proud of all the great things the children at AHK can do! And a big Congratulations to our physical therapists on staff at AHK and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

We are thrilled to announce that our 2019 Share the Care Ball award recipients will by Dr. Peter J. Smith and Commissioner Karen Tamley. Two remarkable people who have made a significant difference at Almost Home Kids and in their very distinguished careers.

Please join us at the Share the Care Ball to celebrate their acomplishments:
Date: October 25, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Location: Hotel InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile
Click here for tickets.

Share the Care Champion: Peter J. Smith, MD, MA
Dr. Smith is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Smith also a faculty member of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. Dr. Smith attended the University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree, Duke University for Medical School, and completed his Masters in Theology (Ethics) at Boston College.  He completed his general pediatrics residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital (Washington University) and two fellowships at Boston Children’s Hospital (Harvard).  He is board certified in two subspecialties of pediatrics, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (NDD) and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP).

Dr. Smith’s clinical service at Almost Home Kids has meant at least weekly rounds at the Chicago site since it opened, 24/7 telephone call for a large portion of that time, and countless hours of off-site clinical management (putting in orders, making phone calls, checking labs, and emailing other clinicians).  Almost Home Kids prides itself in working as a team, and Dr. Smith has been a crucial team member in Chicago since it opened.  Dr. Smith served on the AHK Board prior to the Chicago site opening and has been a very successful and effective spokesperson for Almost Home Kids, most recently testifying at both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in Springfield for the successful Medicaid Rate increase request for Almost Home Kids Transitional Care program.

Previous to his work at AHK, he was Chief of the Medical Staff at La Rabida Children’s Hospital, which also serves children with medical complexity.  Along with being Medical Director at AHK in Chicago, he serves as Medical Director for two residential schools (the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School and at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education).  He also has busy outpatient clinics, currently at Comer Children’s Hospital, the Erikson Institute, and at Easter Seals of DuPage and Fox Valley.  Both families and colleagues respect him as a hard-working and passionate advocate for children with complex medical needs.

Dr. Smith is also a teacher.  He started and was the first Program Director for the first training program in the Midwest for pediatricians who want to become experts in the care of children with developmental and behavioral difficulties (a Fellowship in DBP).   He has also created and continues to develop the medical education program (for medical students, residents, and fellows) at Almost Home Kids and is in the process of creating a similar program for Nurse Practitioners.

Most importantly, Dr. Smith is a husband, father to four wonderful children, sibling to five brothers and one sister, and son to parents that taught & inspired him to serve others, especially children.

Share the Care Exemplar:  Commissioner Karen Tamley
Karen Tamley serves as Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) under Mayor of Chicago, Lori E. Lightfoot. Commissioner Tamley was first appointed to head the MPPD by Mayor Richard J. Daley and also served under Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. MOPD promotes the full inclusion of people with all types of disabilities and strives to make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation.

In her role as Commissioner, Ms. Tamley leads disability policy and accessibility initiatives in the areas of transportation, city infrastructure, technology, emergency planning, education, and employment. She also oversees the delivery of direct services including in-home supports, home accessibility modifications, and employment services to thousands of youth and adults with disabilities.

In 2016, Commissioner Tamley was appointed by President Obama to serve on the United States Access Board, which develops national accessibility guidelines and standards. In March of 2019, she was elected Chair of the Access Board.

Commissioner Tamley was instrumental in making it possible for Almost Home Kids to open in Chicago in 2012 by helping us connect and work with various city entities such as the fire department and building department and as an ardent champion of our program for children with medical complexities and their families, paving the way to bring our model of care to the city of Chicago. Throughout her life and career, she has been a tireless advocate for children and adults with disabilities and a resolute campaigner to ensure accessibility is seamlessly woven into everyday life, making a tangible difference both locally and nationally.

Ms. Tamley serves in a volunteer capacity on several Boards including co-chairing the Disabilities Fund Advisory Board of The Chicago Community Trust, and as a board member for Meals on Wheels Chicago, Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club and the Kohl Children’s Museum. Ms. Tamley has also been the recipient of numerous awards such as 2019 TaleBlazer Award (Tellin Tales Theater), 2015 Motorola Excellence in Public Service (The Civic Federation of Chicago), 2015 Leadership Greater Chicago Distinguished Leader Award (Leadership Greater Chicago), 2007 Athena Award Nominee, Athena International, (Women’s Leadership), 2006 Justin Dart Distinguished Citizen award (Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois), 2000 Edward V. Roberts Award and the Excellence in Independent Living Award (Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living). Karen is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and a Fellow on the Leadership Greater Chicago organization.

Ms. Tamley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and she and her husband Kevin Irvine have a 13-year old daughter Dominika and live in Chicago’ Albany Park neighborhood.


16 first year residents from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital attended the Keith Veselik MD Medical Education Program (KVMEP) Lunch and Learn sponsored by Almost Home Kids and held at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago. Dr. Peter J. Smith talked with them about the need for physicians trained to care for children with medical complexities and the availability of opportunities for the residents to gain experiences at Almost Home Kids in Chicago and Naperville. The residents viewed a brief presentation and then had their questions about the type of children cared for answered by Dr. Smith.

The group was then able to tour the 6th floor Almost Home Kids location and had a few more questions answered before they returned for their afternoon work at Lurie Children’s. We were excited to welcome such an engaging and attentive group of residents, all of whom asked thoughtful and probing questions – we are hopeful some of them will sign up for our four-week rotation and gain an even better understanding of the training, logistics and knowledge needed to successfully care for children with medical complexities in the community and perhaps at their future practice.

To learn more about AHK’s medical education programs, please contact Ponda Barnes, Director of Sponsored Programs at or call 312.227.8196

Almost Home Kids (AHK) is excited to expand our nurse practitioner team! We are looking for an experienced Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with a passion for providing care to children with medical complexities. AHK is a community based pediatric healthcare center that provides transitional care and respite care. AHK is affiliated with Lurie Children’s Hospital. Our mission is to provide a bridge from hospital to home for children with medical complexities.

Position: 0.5 FTE Nurse Practitioner
Location: Almost Home Kids in Naperville, IL (7S 721 Route 53, Naperville, IL 60540
Qualifications: Experienced PNP or FNP with pediatric experience.

Will also consider new grads with relevant RN experience (PICU, NICU)

If you are interested, please apply on-line by clicking here

Questions? Email the AHK Nurse Practitioner Team Lead: Abby Riley, APRN, Nurse Practitioner at Almost Home Kids: call 312.229.0170 x250 or email

Happy First Birthday, Almost Home Kids at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois!!!

During our first year Almost Home Kids in Peoria reached many milestones!

  • Completed 10 Transitional Care patient admissions
  • Discharged to home / hospital 5 Transitional Care patients
  • Accomplished 13 different Respite Care admissions & discharges
  • Achieved a 100% overall parent satisfaction scores for clinical care services and training
  • Received nearly 400 hours of volunteer support
  • Received donations from 33 different 3rd party events/donation drives

The first year celebrations kicked off with staff and Almost Home Kids families enjoying a cookout on the patio, complete with a photo booth!

Thank you to Michael Fleming and Keith Hubble of Thrivent Financial for generously donating food for the cookout and wish list items through Thrivent’s Community Action Funding.  The supplies donated will go a long way to benefit children and families in Central Illinois as they prepare to transition home.

Our birthday cake was donated by Hy-Vee on Orange Prairie, thank you Hy-Vee!

#ThriventFinancial #Hy-Vee