Expanding Our Capacity, Serving Our Community

July 20th, 2017


In a family, when one member is sick or troubled, the others rally together to support and uplift their loved one.


James and Tracy open a housewarming gift from a visitor

The same is true for communities. We’ve seen countless examples here in Monroe County of our community rallying together to support a family in need or help a sick or injured child.

That communal selflessness often translates to other types of communities as well.

That’s why Human Support Services is fortunate to be a part of several.

We’re proud to be a part of the generous, supportive community of Monroe County, the geographic location where we serve our clients. But we’re equally grateful to be a part of the nonprofit community in Southwestern Illinois.

We’re fortunate to work alongside organizations who serve our region, from the YMCA and the Monroe County House of Neighborly Service, to our fellow mental health organizations like Human Service Center and Monroe Council for the Handicapped.

James loves his new room at Human Support Services’ new group home


The spacious, comfortable rooms of the new HSS group homes

In a time when many nonprofits are struggling due to the state budget crisis, it has never been more important for our nonprofit community to help one another and fill in to provide services whenever we can.

That’s why when HSS learned a residential home in Evansville would soon be closing its doors, we hoped to find a way we could help the residents who would be displaced.

The spacious, comfortable rooms of the new HSS group homes

At that time, HSS only had housing available for 24 individuals with developmental disabilities.  Twenty-two of those residential openings were filled, but we gladly welcomed two clients from the Evansville home to bring us to capacity.

Then, through a series of fortunate events, we were able to expand our capacity by three more spots, increasing our capacity to 27!

So far, we’ve been able to welcome two more clients from the Evansville residence.

We’re delighted to report that several of these clients have family in Monroe County, which means their new living arrangements give them the opportunity to be closer to their loved ones.

In a time when so many nonprofits are facing uncertainty – and we too have been concerned with the state’s budget crisis – we are proud that we were able to forge ahead and provide homes for as many of our neighbors in need as we could.

The spacious, comfortable rooms of the new HSS group homes

Other organizations and individuals in our community have certainly been there for HSS and our clients many, many times – in ways too numerous to mention.

That’s what a true sense of community means, to do whatever small part you or your organization can to help and keep moving forward when others need you.


The spacious, comfortable rooms of the new HSS group homes

Ruby Retires After 37 Years with HSS

July 6th, 2017

Barb Ruby with some of her HSS co-workers

Before Barb Ruby retired from Human Support Services at the end of June, she had been with the organization for 37 years, making her the longest standing employee HSS has ever had.

Since she started in April 3, 1980, Barb has worked in a variety of roles at HSS, from secretary to office manager.

Over the years, Barb has been a source of institutional knowledge for everyone at HSS.

“When I walked into this building many years ago, Barb was one of the first people I met,” said Stacie Roy, HSS accountant and office manager. “She helped me stock my desk and my mind full of information. Barb was always the one to go to for everything.”

Beloved for her sense of humor and famous one-liners, Barb is also known for being the first one to step in to help wherever she was needed.

“She was one of those people that would drop everything just to help another person,” Roy said. “Being around Barb and watching her interactions with others was an inspiration to us all. I cherish the 19 years I have worked with Barb and could not have asked for a better role model and friend.”

Barb says she has truly loved her job at HSS, and has most enjoyed working with her fellow staff and the clients in the day training program.

She is grateful to have played a role in an organization that provides such valuable services to the people of Monroe County.

Since she first joined the organization in 1980, Barb has seen many changes, including the merger of the Columbia and Waterloo offices of HSS, and the introduction of computers.

Before she joined HSS, Barb worked at Equitable Insurance Company in St. Louis for nine years, and spent six years as a stay-at-home mom.

On June 28, Barb’s fellow HSS staff threw her a retirement party to celebrate her years of service to the nonprofit. Her husband, Bill, daughter, Brandi Ruby Henry, and grandchildren, Bailee and Cody, joined her at the party.

In her retirement, Barb says she plans to take some time off but hopes to eventually come back to volunteer at HSS.

Everyone here at HSS is glad to hear it!

After all, as Roy says, “Barb helped to put the ‘Support’ in Human Support Services!”

Ruby with her husband, Bill, daughter, Brandi Henry, and grandchildren, Bailee and Cody

HSS Clients Volunteer to Help Feed Community

June 29th, 2017

Every Monday through Thursday this summer, Human Support Services clients pack up coolers and take a ride out to a few smaller outlying towns in our region.

In these towns, our clients are the frontline volunteers handing out sack lunches to children and adults who might otherwise struggle to find enough to eat on these hot summer days.

The program, called Summer Lunch Bunch, is a new joint effort of the Monroe County House of Neighborly Service, the YMCA, Teamwork, Big Brothers Big Sisters and HSS.

While HNS handles the lunch distribution at sites in Waterloo, our HSS clients are responsible for preparing, packing and distributing the lunches at sites in Valmeyer, Hecker and Prairie du Rocher.

For us, it’s a win-win effort.

Not only are we involved in an important community project that helps feed local families in need, but we are giving all our day and workshop program clients a new opportunity to learn.

“A lot of our volunteer experiences are limited to a few people, but we saw this lunch bunch as an opportunity for almost everybody to be involved if they wanted to,” said Anne King, HSS chief program officer. “So we’re really rotating and turn taking with a lot of folks in the day program. Everybody gets a turn to go except for those that can’t take the heat or have medical limitations.”

For many of our clients, it’s a chance to get out and interact with people – something they love to do. Even better, it’s an opportunity for them to work on social interaction skills and teamwork.

“It’s really a chance for clients to build in their skills as much as providing a service to the community too,” King said.

Volunteering with the Summer Lunch Bunch offers clients experience in a variety of areas, such as food preparation, community service, communication skills and social engagement.

HSS works with HNS regularly, and this is a great example of a successful community partnership that has provided benefits on multiple levels.

The Summer Lunch Bunch will provide free lunches to people of all ages Monday through Thursday through August 11.

Volunteers give out lunches at the following locations and times:

  • Bella Vista apartments on Debra Lane in Waterloo at 11 a.m.
  • Corner of Park and Moore streets in Waterloo at 11:30 a.m.
  • Waterloo Optimist Skate Park at 12 p.m.
  • Former First Bank site in Valmeyer at 11:30 a.m.
  • City park in Prairie du Rocher at 11:30 a.m.
  • City park in Hecker at 11:30 a.m.

The Summer Lunch Bunch is in need of volunteers and donations of food to continue the program throughout the summer. If you can help or have questions, call 618-939-8680.

HSS Gets Rave Reviews from COA

June 16th, 2017
HSS Executive Director Robert Cole, Jeanne Borromeo-Otty, Ed Cote, and HSS board members Jan Crawford and Bob Polansky celebrate the completion of the COA site visit.

HSS Executive Director Robert Cole, Jeanne Borromeo-Otty, Ed Cote, and HSS board members Jan Crawford and Bob Polansky celebrate the completion of the COA site visit.

This week, Human Support Services completed the on-site review process for the Council of Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization.

Every four years, we go through the lengthy, multi-step process so that we can maintain our COA status.

Initially, our managers fill out and send in documentation indicating how our organization is performing in all areas, from finance and facilities management to governance and ethics.

COA also furnishes HSS with surveys that we send out to clients, staff, managers, partners, other agencies and community stakeholders. Individuals complete the surveys anonymously before returning them directly to COA for review.

COA representatives compile and review all the data from the surveys and our documentation before coming to HSS for a site visit.

The site visit, which this year took place June 12-13, is the opportunity for COA reps to verify that all practices, policies and procedures are operating as they should.

“We did very, very well,” said Anne King, HSS chief program officer. “They were very complimentary to all of us for every program.”

Now that the site visit is complete, COA staff will finalize their report. Soon we’ll receive our new certification for the next four years.

“Out of all the reviews I’ve been through this was the most positive,” said Susan Harbaugh, HSS chief financial officer.


New Van Makes Travel Easier on HSS Clients

May 30th, 2017

new van

Some of our clients now have a new ride, thanks to our recent purchase of a new 2017 Ford Transit van!

The van will allow Human Support Services to transport two wheelchair-bound individuals plus three additional riders and a driver.

This allows for fewer trips and great accessibility for our residential clients, said HSS Executive Director Robert Cole.

“We have found that our residents are requiring more assistance with mobility and standard mini-van vehicles did not have enough room to accommodate multiple wheelchairs plus walkers,” Cole said. “It is also hard for the residents to move to the rear seats in mini-vans.”

new van

The new van is taller, more spacious, and is specifically designed for individuals with disabilities, so it should be easier for clients to enter and exit. It also has a nice, flat floor and wheelchair lift so it should make traveling easier for both staff and residents, Cole said.

The van will be used daily to transport our Hecker residential clients on visits to the store and for medical appointments and entertainment.

As a private nonprofit, HSS relies on support from the community to provide the best service to our clients.

We hope you’ll continue to support our mission to provide affordable, local services aimed at helping individuals challenged by mental health concerns, developmental disabilities, or substance use build satisfying lives. Donate to HSS here.

new van