I Love You Card Program

Effingham - St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital in August 2001 was the first hospital in the United States offering an innovative program for new parents. Through the "I Love You" Card program, new mothers and fathers are encouraged to offer a nurturing environment in their child's life.

The parents of every new baby born at St. Anthony's receive a letter and small card, which encourages a tradition of language in the home that includes the words, "I Love You". New parents are encouraged to say these words to their child as they cross the threshold of their home for the first time. In addition, it is suggested that, "I Love You" should be the first words in the morning and the last words at night that the child hears.

Created and sponsored by The Cross Foundation, the "I Love You" Card program is designed to promote a tradition of language in the family home, which encourages feelings of comfort, acceptance and love between parent and child. Whether by tradition or culture, many children never hear the words, "I Love you" from their parents. Yet, a recent study from Iowa State University indicated that children raised in a nurturing environment were more likely to have happier marriages in later life. The "I Love You" Card Program is the first step towards the creation of the nurturing home environment.

The "I Love You" Card program is designed to be easily implemented in hospitals nationwide. "We are very grateful to St. Anthony's for their leadership role in both implementing the program locally, as well as introducing the program to other potential participating organizations," stated a representative for the Cross Foundation.

More than 500 parents each year will receive the "I Love You" Card through St. Anthony Memorial Hospital. St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital is a non-for-profit health care provider, which serves over 179,000 patients annually. More than 26 medical specialties are represented by over 75 physicians on staff at St. Anthony's.

Other hospitals in the midwest recently joined St. Anthony's and will distribute the "I Love You" cards are: St. Elizabeth's of Belleville, IL; St. Nicholas of Sheboygan, WI; St. Joseph's of Breese, IL; St. Mary's of Decatur, IL; Sarah Bush Lincoln of Mattoon, IL; St. Mary's/Good Samaritan of Centralia, IL; St. Vincent's Hospital, Taylorville; and Jersey Community Hospital, Jerseyville, IL.

Including these hospitals, over 5000 parents each year will receive the "I Love You" card.

Click here for a complete list of the participating hospitals.

The Cross at the Crossroads

The Cross Foundation, creators and sponsors of the "I Love You Card" program, is a non-for profit organization dedicated to promoting both faith and family on an ecumenical basis. Based in Effingham, the Cross Foundation completed a 198-foot Cross structure near the intersections of Interstate 57 & 70.

Dedication Service

On the evening of September 16, 2001 at 7:30 pm, the Cross at the Crossroads was formally dedicated. A short service of music, a little talk and prayer prefaced the long awaited illumination of the Cross. Beginning at about 6:00 pm, at least two thousand people streamed car after car into the parking lot adjacent to the Cross and the field surrounding the Cross. Cars lined the roads leading to the Cross, filled parking lots, businesses in the industrial park, and along Fayette Avenue and Raney Street. Soon after sunset, the four one thousand watt bulbs were switched on.

The groundwork for the dedication service begun in the early summer of 2001 and was planned to be on the darkest night of mid September, the evening before the new moon. The events of September 11 in New York City, Washington, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania brought forth an even more somber, darker night throughout the nation and in central Illinois. As the lights were turned on and the illuminated Cross at the Crossroads broke the darkness, there was a sense of joy, relief and hope for the throng gathered at the base of the Cross.



© 2005 The Effingham Cross Foundation