On January 5, 2006, Judy and Alan Miller, CEO and President, respectively, of The Gabe W. Miller Memorial Foundation presented the first Gabe W. Miller Social Service Project Grant to E.R.I.C. (Enrichment, Redevelopment and Improvement in the lives of Children and families) Family Services, Inc.  E.R.I.C. is a private, not-for-profit, full-service agency, in operation since 1994, that, among other projects, runs a group home for teenage girls who are wards of the State of Illinois.  The agency serves the Austin neighborhood in Chicago and the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area.

Group PictureThe grant will fund a new program for E.R.I.C. – its Parenting Postponement Project.  In addition to the usual live and video classroom instruction and field trips, the unique feature of the project is the opportunity for girls to have the responsibility for caring for a computerized, simulated “newborn” for a week-end.  The virtual baby has all the functions of a real newborn, including the messy ones, performs them unpredictably and, most important, keeps a computer record of the care it receives. 

The Baby Think It Over® infant simulator was created in 1993 by Realityworks, Inc. (

The theory is that the experience may help disabuse the girl caregiver of unrealistic notions about parenthood and the joy of being loved by a tiny, adorable and very dependent being.  It will also help the girls evaluate their readiness and aptitude, or lack thereof, for motherhood. 

This is a new project for E.R.I.C., but is common in many suburban and rural schools.  However, E.R.I.C. girls attend public schools that usually do not offer this program. 

The concept was formulated and proposed by E.R.I.C.’s Executive Director, Dr. Sheila C. Curren, who will provide clinical oversight, and  Project Manager, Evanee Neville, MSW.  Kimberly Bradshaw, BSSW, as well as additional group home staff will be involved in the administration of this project.

The grant presentation took place at E.R.I.C.’s headquarters in the Austin neighborhood.  Additional participants were E.R.I.C.’s officers: Crystal Bell, President; Sherman Blackman, Treasurer; Carolyn Lyman, Founder; Bruce Wilson, Director and Shirlynn Wilson, Director.

Mr. Miller made a short presentation about the late Gabe Miller, his sensitivity to the disabled, disadvantaged and dispirited and the passion that he brought to social justice and social assistance issues, which included parenting postponement.

He also spoke of the Foundation’s first year’s (February 2005 – present) goals of granting two graduate social work scholarships and one social service project grant  and how they have been achieved.  In addition, he told of the 347 “Friends of Gabe” who, in 23 states and 2 provinces, are practicing what Mahatma Gandhi and Margaret Mead preached.

Miller closed with the hope that those who administer the project read all they can about Gabe and find the strength and inspiration to “pay it forward” to these young girls.  He congratulated E.R.I.C.’s leadership and staff on following the directive of Psalm 82 to “Champion the weak and the orphan; uphold the downtrodden and destitute.   Rescue the weak and the needy, save them from the grip of the wicked.”

For further information, please contact The Foundation.

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