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.