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

HSS Clients Working to Beautify City

May 19th, 2017


HSS is excited to announce that some of our clients will now be working with the City of Waterloo to help beautify the community!

Through a new partnership with the city, our clients will work to keep the streets of downtown clean and continue the mayor’s ongoing efforts of beautification.

“Our clients our thrilled with this new employment opportunity, and love being an integral part of our community’s success,” said HSS Chief Program Officer Anne King. “We appreciate this new partnership with the city, as well as their ongoing support of the work that we do with our clients every day.”

Residents may see HSS clients performing their new jobs some weekday mornings – just look for them in the bright yellow safety vests!

“Our clients are hard-working and resourceful,” King said. “Many of them perform volunteer tasks in our community and hold a variety of jobs. We hope this partnership will begin to highlight the many talents of the clients we serve, and will lead to other opportunities for employment with local businesses.”

HSS Clients Give Back & Get Job Skills in Return

May 12th, 2017
Rachel volunteers at the Mayfest

Rachel volunteers at the Mayfest

Our clients love it when they get the opportunity to give back to our community.

When those opportunities also happen to teach them job skills, it’s even more exciting.

For the last several years, clients from our residences have been volunteering behind the scenes at the Mayfest, Octoberfest and Downtown Concert Series in downtown Waterloo.

They empty trash cans, refill liners and move straw bales – performing the maintenance work to keep the Courthouse grounds tidy for the duration of the event.

While these tasks aren’t glamorous, they’re vital to the success of the events.

Even better, our clients learn valuable skills through this volunteer effort, including:

  • Listening to instructions
  • Reporting for work on time
  • Completing a task
  • Working as a team
  • Serving a community purpose

For some clients, these events have led to job opportunities elsewhere in the community.

Clients all say they enjoy volunteering at the festivals, and love to attend as patrons.

James, who volunteered at this year’s Mayfest, said he likes that he can listen to the music while he volunteers.

“I like to keep the street clean,” he said.

Thanks to the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce and the Monroe County House of Neighborly Service for their support of this program.

Steven picks up strawbales after the first concert of the new Downtown Concert Series

Steven picks up strawbales after the first concert of the new Downtown Concert Series