Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Foundation Name-Change

Human Support Services first opened its doors in 1973 as a private, non-profit agency serving Monroe County residents with disabilities of many types. In 1981 the Human Support Services Board of Directors and a group of concerned Monroe County leaders recognized that there was an ongoing need for financial support to fund the programs offered by the agency. They then established the Mental Health Endowment Foundation in order to provide a method of receiving donations that would benefit the programs and projects of Human Support Services. The Mental Health Endowment Foundation was founded as a non-profit tax-exempt corporation under IRS code 501(c)(3) and Illinois law. Gifts to it were tax deductible to the full extent of federal and state law.

Since 1981, the foundation has grown slowly but steadily and has provided a stream of regular financial gifts to Human Support Services. Donations from hundreds of community members and area businesses have added to the fund balance from a variety of appeals and fundraising events. All throughout its existence, however, there have been questions from donors about the name, Mental Health Endowment Foundation. Many have asked for assurance that their gifts would support Human Support Services specifically and not go to a general community fund that supported multiple community agencies.

To end the confusion, the Board of Directors of the foundation has recently approved a name-change for the foundation. The appropriate papers have been filed with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and from November 24, 2009 on the foundation will be renamed the Human Support Services Foundation. All other aspects of the foundation remain unchanged. As before, the mission of the foundation is to provide ongoing financial gifts to Human Support Services.

We hope that the new name, the Human Support Services Foundation, helps cement for donors the direct relationship between Human Support Services and the foundation. We will strive to see continued growth in the foundation and a commensurate increase in the gifts that are made to support Human Support Services programs.

Friday, September 4, 2009

HSS Wins Parade Trophy

Photo from The Republic Times

For the third year in a row, HSS garnered a trophy in the Waterloo Homecoming Parade. This year's parade was held on Saturday August 29, 2009, with a theme of cartoon characters . The HSS float depicting "The Flintstones Meet The Jetsons" took top honors and was picked as the Best Overall Float. HSS participates in this and other local parades as a means of increasing visibility of the agency in the community and to provide a chance for staff and clients to participate in civic activities. Much thanks goes to HSS staffers Deb West, Lynn Lance, Jessica Powel, Tracey Stumpf, Opal Lang, Ben Archer, Rachel May, Kim Pennock. Also, several volunteers helped out including Katie Swope and Chad Lance while Steve Lance deserves a big note of appreciation for building the Flintstone's Car.

Monday, August 17, 2009

HSS Story Featured in United Way Newsletter

The United Way of Greater St. Louis recently featured a story about the accomplishments of a woman in our agency’s residential services program in their on-line newsletter. Linda’s efforts to become more independent were detailed to show that with the help of agencies like HSS and the support of the United Way, people with disabilities can have success and enjoyment in life. Human Support Services receives generous support from the United Way that helps us meet the housing needs of adults with mental health related disabilities. Linda’s story is as follows:

Mental health problems affect people of all ages in this community, and some individuals are unable to find the help they need. With your donations, United Way is able to provide aid to help keep people like Linda Hatch healthy, help them find jobs and become independent.
Linda, 42, has mild developmental disabilities and bipolar disorder. She was placed at a local nursing home due to several suicide attempts. In December 2002, she came to Human Support Services, a United Way-funded agency since 1985.
Her adjustment there was difficult, but in 2005, she transitioned to the supported employment program and began working at a local nursing home. Thanks to this job and her Human Support Services financial case manager, she was able to pay off the thousands of dollars in medical bills which were not covered by Medicaid.
In November 2007, she was able to move into her own apartment with no supervision, but maintains a case manager to ensure that she has the necessary access to meet her medical, social and financial needs.
"Linda is happy to tell anyone that will listen how hard she has worked and how far she has come," says Bobbi Walters, residence site manager. Read more about Linda.
Want to know more about mental health? Here's five quick facts:
1. Some mental disorders are depression, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, addiction to drugs and alcohol and personality disorders.
2. Half of all cases of mental disorders begin by age 14, and three-quarters begin by age 24. However, there are often long delays between the onset of symptoms and when people seek help.
3. Almost half of Americans who have been diagnosed for one mental disorder have symptoms that meet criteria for an additional mental disorder.
4. One in five children may have a mental disorder, but fewer than half of these children receive the help or the services they need. One in five elderly Americans are diagnosed with a mental disorder as well, but fewer than 25 percent of these individuals receive mental health attention.
5. About one in four adults suffer from a mental disorder that can be diagnosed, but fewer than one-third receive the help or the services they need.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dare to Dream

The Human Support Services Day Treatment program has started making dreams come true! Following the "Dare to Dream" workshop held recently at HSS by Krescene Beck from New Visions, the Day Training staff got to work making things happen! Joe S.'s dream was to "go back home." So the Day Treatment seniors’ class took a surprise field trip to the country. They visited the town of St. Libory, the area Joe grew up in. Unfortunately they could not visit his old home because it no longer was there and is now the site of a coal mine. They did however get to visit his 83 year-old sister who still lives on her dairy farm. Joe and his sister got to visit and the seniors’ class had lunch at Chicken's restaurant. He returned that day and stated, "today my dream came true!" It was awesome to see his reaction to this event. Joe was beaming from excitement for days following the trip. It was also equally exciting to see the renewed excitement from staff. This is a perfect example of staff looking outside of the box and individualizing services to meet the needs, desires, and dreams of our clients. It is our mission to continue making the dreams of our clients a reality. After all, THIS is why we are here. Great job DT staff! – E Fuson, Day Training and Work Services Coordinator

Joe & his sister

Thursday, May 21, 2009

HSS Hot Catfish and Cool Blues Fund Raiser a Success

The blues music of Jimmy and the Housecats kept over 100 HSS supporters listening at a delightful afternoon fund raising event for HSS. Hot Catfish and Cool Blues featured a down-home catfish dinner and four hours of the best blues music around on Sunday, May 17, 2009 at the Acorn’s Country Club in Waterloo. The event successfully raised funds that will support HSS programs.

There were many volunteers that made this event successful, but special thanks are given to Deb West, Virginia Bersche, Jean Marie Conrad and Mark Altadonna for their efforts.

CSN Vacation Trip to Florida

For many years the HSS consumers and staff in the Community Support Network residential sites had a dream to take a vacation trip to Florida to see Disney World. To make this happen they spent three long years planning and hosting a variety of fund raising events. They sold funnel cakes at the Waterloo Homecoming, they hosted a bowling fundraiser, they sponsored horse shows and they took on many other projects in efforts to build the vacation fund. Finally, they reached their goal of saving enough to send 20 clients to Florida for a six-day adventure. Once the funds were in hand, reservations were made, and staff began the thorough planning on how to meet the medical and other needs of 20 consumers far away from home. The trip as planned would include two days at Disney World, and a day at Clearwater Beach for fun in the surf and a boat trip to see dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the wee-hours of the morning on Saturday, April 24, 2009, 20 CSN and HBS clients along with eight HSS staff left Waterloo. Flying was too expensive; chartering a comfortable coach was too expensive as well. This brave band left in two HSS busses and two HSS vans on the 23-hour trip to the south. The first night and the following day they drove all the way to Macon, Georgia. Up bright and early the next day, they finally reached Orlando, Florida at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The next two days were filled with the sights and sounds of the Magic Kingdom. They stayed at the Pop Century hotel in Disney World, ate at a variety of restaurants including the German Biergarten and in general experienced the full Disney adventure. Then, on Wednesday they left the Disney World crowds behind and it was on to Clearwater Beach for fun in the waves along that community’s famous two-mile white sand public beach. For many of those on the trip this was their first experience with the ocean, but with beautiful sunny skies and warm water they quickly found out how enjoyable it can be to relax on the beach.

The dolphin trip was next on the agenda. The whole group boarded a sightseeing boat and headed out into the gulf. Soon they were rewarded with a pod of dolphins that shadowed the boat as it cruised the waters. They even saw a baby dolphin among those that swam right up to the boat.

Then the next morning it was time to head back to Waterloo. Another long bus ride for a tired group of vacationers; everybody was happy but also they were ready to get home. Finally, at 4 a.m. on Friday, May 1 they were all safely back home. A remarkable trip, full of memories and good times, was over. These consumers certainly represented their community well throughout the trip and as a group they proved once again that efforts to increase integration of persons with disabilities into the community is the right way to go.

We would like to especially acknowledge the efforts of the HSS staff who made this trip possible. Bobbi Walters, Erin Fuson, Tanya Durrer all worked tirelessly in the efforts to plan the trip and to prepare to meet the needs of these consumers away from their homes. They also all went with the consumers on the trip. Gerri Kutz was very instrumental in organizing the many fundraising activities that made the trip possible and she, too, went along to assist the consumers. Zach Ingles, Errick Taylor, Frances Kistner and Mendy Mehrtens all volunteered to go and drove the many miles to and from. Although many other HSS staff worked to make this trip a reality, it would not have been possible without this group.

Thanks also for the tremendous support we received from the businesses and families in the community who helped us with the fund raising to make this trip possible. It was a real community effort and we are privileged to have the support of so many people and businesses throughout Monroe and neighboring counties.

HSS Receives New Rental Subsidy Grant

Human Support Services was one of just five agencies in the state that was granted a Long Term Operating Support grant in April from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). This new grant will provide rental subsidy funding that will allow tenant rents in seven apartments to be limited to 30% of the tenant’s income. The grant will pay the difference between the tenant’s rent and the market rent to HSS. The grant will run for 15 years. Previously HSS was using local funds to pay for this expense.

HSS would like to acknowledge the support of the Mayor of Waterloo, Tom Smith, as well as the support of the Monroe County Commissioners Office, State Senator David Luechtefeld and State Representative Dan Reitz. Their support was instrumental in receiving this competitive grant.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From Dreams to Reality

On April 16 HSS staff in Day Treatment invited Krescene Beck from New Visions to come and speak about helping staff to become advocates for assisting developmentally disabled clients to realize their dreams. The presenter reviewed how staff could place barriers and obstacles in front of clients without even realizing it. Staff discussed how they could instead become Dream Keepers that help clients identify their dreams and then teach them to reach them. Next month Ms. Beck will return for a presentation to 20 Day Treatment clients entitled “Dare to Dream.” The clients will learn to identify their dreams; they will talk about the steps to meeting their dreams and how to identify people who will support them in their efforts. They will create a collage of pictures that show their dreams as well. The Illinois Department of Human Services provided funding for these trainings.

New Consumer Recovery Groups

As part of HSS’s efforts to promote the recovery efforts of consumers, HSS has recently started offering several new groups on improving life skills. These groups focus on helping consumers learn about and discuss life skills that will make them healthier and more independent. These groups will empower and inspire people living with mental illness to make healthier food, beverage and lifestyle choices. They will also address risk factors associated with physical inactivity and weight concerns that lead to the increased health problems in people with mental illness. These groups will use materials from a wellness curriculum developed and provided by the Eli Lilly Corporation. Titled Choosing Wellness, this group program incorporates nutrition, physical activity, stress management and other holistic topics. Groups have already been started for the consumers residing in the HSS apartments in Columbia, in the Bradford apartments, for our consumers attending HSS day services and soon a group will be offered for other community clients as well.

Gift of Office Furniture

HSS recently received a large amount of donated office furniture from 1st National Bank of Waterloo. The furniture became available as part of the scheduled refurbishing of bank facilities. The bank had a variety of gently used chairs, tables and wall hangings and we were very pleased that they thought of HSS rather than just disposing of the property.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

5th - 8th Graders Have Fun with HSS Clients

Twenty-five fifth through grade students from Immaculate Conception Parish in Columbia joined with 30 adult developmentally disabled clients from the HSS Community Support Network in an evening of fun activities. The students put on a Talent Show featuring singing, dancing, acrobatics displays and guitar playing. Clients from Bellefontaine Place in Waterloo as well as some visiting clients from a program in Highland, Illinois joined clients from the HSS residential program in the activities. Several parents and even a family from St. Louis also attended.

The Talent Show was a follow-up to training the students received in how to act around people with disabilities. Bobbi Walters, Human Support Services Site Manager, assisted by Kim Pennock, HSS Clinical Director, worked with ICS parish staff in teaching the students about interacting in positive ways with special needs persons. The Talent Show was a fun follow-up activity.

Child Protection Workshops

As part of their responsibilities as Prevention Specialists, HSS staff members Michele Keim and Erin Schmitz have organized a series of workshops for day care workers and staff at agencies that work with children. The overall theme is how staff at child caring agencies can help prevent or respond to child abuse and neglect.

The first workshop, What it Means to be a Mandated Reporter, featured Jay Reeves, an investigator with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as presenter. The workshop reviewed the rules and responsibilities of mandated reporters such as child care workers and described the process of how reports are investigated. Fifty-five childcare workers attended this presentation.

The second workshop, to be held in April, is on the Six Protective Factors that Keep Families Strong. Presenting will be Tara Williams from Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. The presentation will explore six protective factors and how they relate to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. In addition, this workshop will explore how service providers can implement strategies that build protective factors in families and the community.

HSS Awarded New Housing Funds

Human Support Services learned in March that it would be receiving Long Term Operation Support (LTOS) funds from the Illinois Housing Development Authority. These funds will help HSS make seven of its apartments in Waterloo affordable for adults with disabilities, limiting the rent to 30% of a tenant’s income. The LTOS program was available to any Illinois non-profit agency providing housing. Less than eight agencies statewide will be awarded funding and HSS will be one of them. The new program will bring about $30,000- $35,000 to HSS annually for 15 years. Previously HSS was using local funds for this purpose. These local funds will now be available for other uses.

HSS Employee Of The Month

Human Support Services named Erin Fuson Employee Of The Month for February. Erin, originally from Coulterville, and now St. Louis, has been with Human Support Services for four years. Erin is the Agency's Work Services and Day Training Director. She was recognized for making arrangements to provide the Agency with much needed equipment at a significant savings. Erin will receive a gift certificate, and a day off with pay.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 2009 News

Residential Services Grants

One way that HSS serves people with developmental disabilities or mental illness is through our Residential Services Program. We own and operate nine apartment buildings throughout the county, providing 57 units to low-income disabled people. Each tenant is provided with wrap-around supportive services based on individual needs. Additionally, HSS supports other individuals who live in their own homes or commercially available apartments, providing case management and skill building services. Between these two programs, HSS works with over 70 people.

Recently HSS received a 15 year grant valued at $85,000-$95,000 per year from the Illinois Development Authority that will help HSS with the costs making its apartments affordable to low-income disabled persons. This limits the rent the tenants pay to 30% of their income. HSS was previously using local tax dollars for this purpose.

Also, HSS has just received a Permanent Supportive Housing grant to allow it to expand its services to people with mental illness who live their own homes. HSS staff will be able to go into the community and provide supportive services that will help these individuals remain independent and in their own home.

New Services for Seniors

Human Support Services has teamed up with its counter-part in Randolph County, Human Service Center, to expand community services to seniors needing assistance due to mental health or dementia concerns. The service will start with an in-home assessment by a counselor specializing in senior issues. Depending the results of the evaluation a variety of in-home services can be provided including case management to help link the recipient with local services, skills education services to help the primary care giver learn effective behavioral and therapeutic techniques to assist the needy senior and nursing visits to help with psychiatric medication and nutrition. This service will be able to work with individuals who have a primary mental health need, such as depression, or a loss or functioning due to dementia, Alzheimer’s or other condition. For many individuals there will be no cost for these services. For those that do have a fee, a sliding scale will be used to keep fees affordable.
Anyone interested in learning more about this new option should contact the Human Support Services Clinical Director, Kim Pennock at 939-4444.

New Shrink-wrap Machine

Through a generous gift from the Employees’ Community Fund of the Boeing Corporation, HSS was able to purchase a new shrink-wrap machine for use in the agency’s sheltered workshop. This machine will allow the agency to seek packaging contracts to secure small items within plastic film. It is expected that this equipment could keep 4-6 client workers busy.

The sheltered workshop serves up to 60 adults with developmental disabilities or mental health needs daily. The client workers learn good work skills and behaviors while earning a real paycheck. HSS is constantly searching for contracts from businesses that can keep our client workers on the job, learning and earning. If your business needs shrink-wrap packaging, give HSS a call.

New PCs for Computer Lab

One of the Day Services classes provided by HSS to adults with developmental disabilities or mental illness is a Computer Lab. In this class clients are taught basic computer skills. They are able to learn to use email, surf the internet, can play popular computer games and listen to music under the supervision of HSS staff.

Clients had been using 5-8 year old PCs that were originally donated by the Boeing Corporation. Thanks to two unexpected gifts from the community HSS was able to take $5,400 and purchase ten new PCs and flat panel monitors. Two of the monitors are oversized for clients with visual limitations.

Day and Work Services Manager, Erin Fuson, reports that clients have really enjoyed using the brand-new PCs.

HSS Employee Of The Month

Human Support Services named Thomas Jackson Employee Of The Month for January 2009. Tom, from Waterloo, has been with Human Support Services for four years. He is a skilled maintenance employee who helps maintain the Agency’s residential and support facilities. Tom was recognized for stepping in to be Santa Clause at the client’s Christmas Party when our regular “Santa” volunteer was unavailable. Tom will receive a gift certificate, and a day off with pay.