HSS Chooses Name for New B & B with Help From Clients, Staff

July 2nd, 2018

LOGO SeeMoreInn

Our clients and staff offered many suggestions for the name of of our new bed and breakfast at 4505 HH Road in Waterloo, but the winning moniker is one that just “felt right” to all who heard it.

Our bed and breakfast, which will officially open to guests on yesterday, July 1, will be called The SeeMore Inn!

B&BThe name, which was suggested by HSS staff member Geri Kutz, comes from a Robert M. Hensel quote which reads: There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.

When we heard the meaning behind the name, we felt right away that it was perfect.

Not only does it speak to what we do as an agency, in truly seeing the greatest potential in everyone who comes through our doors, but in another sense, we want the Inn to encourage people to see more of our community – of Waterloo, Monroe County and southwestern Illinois.

While The SeeMore Inn was the winner,  our clients also had some other great options to choose from, including Das Haus, in honor of the community’s German heritage; 1875 House, a nod to the year the home was built; and the We Dream Big Inn.

In case you missed the announcement, we’ve also named the new innkeeper/manager of The SeeMore Inn – our own Jessica Helm of Waterloo!

“This is more than just a job, for so many reasons,” said Trisha Hoagland, our human resources director at HSS.  “With her background in hospitality, and her success in working directly with the clients here, we felt Jessica was meant for this role.”

Clients participated in the interviews of all the applicants, which were all internal.

“In speaking with the clients after the interviews, they all had very positive things to say about Jessica,” Hoagland said. “They said, ‘she treats us like everybody else.’ That is so important in a role in which we are focusing on people developing their independence and pursuing their potential.”

Helm, 29, previously worked at the Waterloo Country Club for 13 years, working her way up from a server to general manager.  In July 2016, Helm started as a direct service provider for HSS at Waterloo Main Street Apartments, working hands-on with clients on their daily living skills.

“I fell into the job at HSS,” Helm said. “I had intentions to go to nursing school because I wanted to take care of people. But then I finished my CNA course, and I wanted to stay with HSS because I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

In 2017, Helm moved up to the HSS workshop, where she helped clients train on job skills.

“I loved the workshop because I got to work with all the clients but I wanted to do more – to teach them more,” Helm said. “When the job opening happened for bed and breakfast manager/innkeeper, it was perfect.  I get emotional about it, because it was so aligned.”

Clients will work a variety of jobs at the bed and breakfast, and eventually three clients with developmental disabilities will live in the five-bedroom home full-time. The clients, with help and round-the-clock supervision from Helm and other HSS staff, will work at and operate the The SeeMore Inn.

Each client will have his or her own bedroom and bathroom. The remaining two bedrooms will be offered as traditional bed and breakfast rooms – open to the general public and/or out-of-town guests and client family members visiting HSS.

Helm said all the HSS clients are already teeming with excitement over the prospect of working at The SeeMore Inn. Several have already helped with yardwork and cleanup projects on the property, and have accompanied Helm to pick up furniture and decor for the Inn.

“All the clients are so excited – you can feel it when you walk in,” Helm said.  “I’m making sure that they’re involved in everything we’re doing. I’ve created job descriptions and applications for them to fill out to make it as much like a job as possible so when they’re ready to venture out beyond here they’ll have experience.”

The Inn, which the previous owners had for many years operated as the Waterloo Inn bed and breakfast, came on the real estate market in 2017.  We closed on the property in February.

Though there is a similar bed and breakfast being operated by a nonprofit in Clarksville, Mo., this would be the first such effort of its kind in Illinois.

The entire project is part of our ongoing effort to pursue “person-centered” services, which focus on developing services and supports around the skills, interests, dreams and desires of each individual served, instead of the “one-size-fits-all” services of the past.


2018 Shine Your Light Gala

June 28th, 2018

I am thankful.  I am overwhelmed.  I am amazed. Frankly, words fail to describe exactly how I feel about the generosity of this community.

This was the first time in history that our organization, Human Support Services, made this kind of ask of our community, our staff and our leadership. I don’t think I’m overstating when I say you all set the bar pretty darn high!

While the evening itself was over in just five glorious hours, the months and days leading up to an event like this are filled with hours upon hours of hard work and at times, frazzled chaos.

It is in those days and hours that I saw the true heart of the people who make HSS a success every single day.

Countless members of our staff sent letters, made phone calls and collected donations to help make the Gala possible. All of this was done in addition to their already full workloads.

I heard so many positive comments in the room that evening about the number of donations we received, the way our staff volunteered and came together, the delicious food, and even the schedule of the evening and the fact that the program ran on time.  None of that would have been possible without the dedication of our HSS family.

From the beginning, we’ve had the support and commitment of our HSS Board of Directors and the Gala Council. These two groups took time from their own hectic schedules to attend meetings, seek donations and help turn what once was just an idea into a beautiful reality.

And a truly beautiful evening it was.  Gala guests loved that our event was “black-tie” optional, which meant they had a chance to wear their fanciest floor-length gowns and three-piece suits or tuxedos. The Falls Reception and Conference Center provided the perfect backdrop for lots of gorgeous pictures with friends and family.

A poignant video from Spot Media reminded all of us why we were in the room – to support the work of HSS and learn more about what our agency provides to the people of Monroe County and beyond.

Guests at the Gala were the first to see our new HSS new mission and vision statements, as well as our new agency logo.  This new mission – “Helping all people live their best lives” – will carry us forward in all the work we do.

Whether you made a donation, attended the Gala or volunteered your time, YOU are helping us achieve that mission.

For this, I thank you.

These words of thanks don’t just come from me – they come from all of the clients and staff who make up the HSS family. Your support of the Gala and HSS means you believe in them – in their work, their lives and their futures.

Our next Shine Your Light Gala will be held May 31, 2019 at The Falls.  Hope to see you all there again and hope to see many new faces next year.

Anne King
HSS Executive Director


HSS Special Olympians Show Their Spirit at Spring Games

June 12th, 2018

HSSOn April 28, we were proud to watch our team of athletes compete in the Spring Games for Special Olympics Illinois — including one champ who showed us all what it means to persevere.

This athlete fell during her race and was technically disqualified. But she got up, brushed off her injuries, and finished her event! In our book, that’s winning.

We also brought home nine gold medals, 10 silvers and eight bronzes. Way to go, team!

We love watching as our HSS clients push their limits and celebrate their achievements.

Special Olympics competitions are much-anticipated events for many of the adults who participate in our adult day training program or reside in our supportive housing program.

Through these events, people find courage and confidence and develop new strengths.

HSS

Special Olympics, which is now in 170 countries around the world, actually began right here in Illinois. The first games were held at Soldier Field in July 1968 thanks to the efforts of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her peers. There are now more than 4.5 million athletes around the world.

Special Olympics Illinois hosts 19 Spring Games throughout the state, with almost 10,000 athletes competing over three weeks.

HSS

This year, our region’s Spring Games were held at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

The weather cooperated, even though it was a little chilly. But we took that as another lesson in fortitude!

We think the Special Olympics oath is pretty fitting for this year’s event:

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Even our athletes who didn’t receive medals were brave in their attempts!

Here’s a full list of our winners:

Gold medals:

  • Katie B.
  • Robbie B.
  • Rachel D.
  • Jill J.
  • Mike K.
  • Austin M.
  • Kevin R.
  • Zach S.
  • Josh W.

Silver medals:

  • Rose E.
  • James J. (with two)
  • Elliot M.
  • Austin M.
  • Susie M.
  • Candy R.
  • Jeremy W.
  • Josh W.
  • Linda W.

Bronze medals:

  • ​Mary
  • Susie D.
  • Mike F. (with two)
  • Sarah H.
  • Susie M.
  • John R.
  • Zach S.
  • Ben W.

We also had seven fourth-place winners, seven fifth-place winners, five sixth-place winners and one seventh-place winner.

Our gold medal winners will compete in the State Games on June 15-17. We will keep you updated!


In a Mental Health Crisis, Simply Wanting to Help Isn’t Enough

May 8th, 2018

Success doesn't come to you. You go to it.

Ethan Call, a college student, was worried when he noticed that his friend — who normally attended church every Sunday — didn’t show up to teach Sunday School that day.

He knew she had been struggling with depression and anxiety. So, he texted her and asked if she was okay.

She wasn’t.

Gwen Cubit, a mother from Texas, was worried when her son texted her from Maryland asking her to call him. He said it was urgent.

She picked up the phone and found him in the throes of an emotional crisis — he wasn’t sure if he wanted to kill himself or someone else.

Think about the last time you worried about a friend, a family member or a neighbor.

Many of us can sense when something isn’t quite right, but the fear of being intrusive, overstepping our bounds or saying the wrong thing can prevent us from acting.

So, far too often, we do nothing to help.

Ethan and Gwen Knew What To Do

Luckily, Ethan and Gwen knew exactly what to do. They had both recently been trained in Mental Health First Aid where they learned how to recognize when someone might be experiencing a mental health or substance use problem, and mastered an action plan to help.

Noticing the red flag, Ethan left church and drove to his friend’s house. Immediately, the Mental Health First Aid action plan kicked in.

He sat with her and listened to her talk about her feelings — without judgment — over milk and cookies. He gave her information about where and how she could access professional help.

He encouraged her to turn to her friends, family and faith community for support. Now, Ethan’s friend is working with a counselor and doing much better.  She got help.

Gwen immediately recalled an important strategy from her Mental Health First Aid training: stay calm.

She kept her son talking, asked questions about what he was doing, where he was and where his family was.

She took his risk of suicide seriously and encouraged him to go to the hospital with his father-in-law, who lived in the area.

Her son agreed, and she stayed on the phone with him until she heard him check in with the administrative nurse at the ER. Her son was diagnosed with depression, and is doing much better today. He got help.

Each of these stories begins the same way: a person trained in Mental Health First Aid notices that something isn’t right. And each story ends with a person in distress getting the help they need.

But when people don’t know what they’re supposed to do when confronted with a difficult situation — when they don’t have an action plan for stepping in when someone is experiencing a mental health or substance use problem — the stories can end much differently.

How Mental Health First Aid Helps

Mental Health First Aid takes the fear and hesitation out of offering support to someone in an emotional crisis. It provides critical tools for helping people that can mean the difference between life and death.

Today, more than 550,000 Americans are trained in Mental Health First Aid. That’s 550,000 people who would know when and how to react to a person in crisis.

And Human Support Services is proud to be a partner in that progress. But in a nation of more than 318 million, 550,000 is not enough.

This month, we celebrate Mental Health Month. We recognize the incredible strides we’ve made in promoting understanding, increasing opportunities and improving the lives of people living with mental health and substance use problems.

Mental Health Month is an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come. But Mental Health Month is also an opportunity to acknowledge how much more work there is to do.

In January, the National Council for Behavioral Health launched the Be 1 in a Million campaign—a national effort to train one million people in Mental Health First Aid. Since the launch of the campaign, more than 50,000 new first aiders have been trained.

This Mental Health Month, we encourage everyone to become part of the Be 1 in a Million movement.

  • Get trained.
  • Spread the word.
  • Offer support to someone in need. Because — as Ethan, Gwen and so many like them know — recognizing how and when to step in and offer help can change, even save, a life.

Article adapted from the National Council for Behavioral Health.


HSS Selected for National Initiative to Reduce Recidivism in County Jail

April 25th, 2018

HSS chosen for criminal justice & behavioral health collaborative

We’re very excited to announce that Human Support Services is one of only three nonprofits selected nationwide for a new initiative designed to improve mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment outcomes for incarcerated individuals.

The initiative is a project of the The National Council for Behavioral Health.

We applied for and were selected by the National Council to participate in this training and support initiative, which is formally called the Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Collaborative (CJBHC).

The initiative, which will be coordinated locally in a joint effort between our organization and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, will focus on early identification and treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders of incarcerated individuals at the Monroe County Jail.

I believe this collaboration is an outstanding opportunity for Monroe County to make great strides forward in addressing mental health and substance abuse disorders in our justice system.

We want to address these issues the second the individuals come into the jail, and hopefully start the rehabilitation process much sooner so we can stop the cycle of recidivism.

While incarcerated, jails can spend two to three times more on individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders than on people without, but often do not see improvements in recidivism or recovery, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health.

The National Council also reports that more than 60 percent of individuals reentering their communities following incarceration live with mental illnesses and substance use disorders, and because these concerns are left unaddressed, those individuals face a much higher risk of recidivism.

With CJBHC, the National Council is hoping to address these issues, one community at a time.

By improving the continuity of care during and after incarceration, and promoting the overall health of a justice-involved individual, we are increasing the chances of a positive outcome.

If we can reduce recidivism among the justice-involved population who face mental health and substance abuse disorders, we can lighten the load on law enforcement, and ultimately, improve public safety.

The 12-month training and technical assistance initiative will offer corrections officers and HSS staff the opportunity to develop organizational processes for screening and assessment, care planning and coordination and intervention.

The initiative will strengthen the existing relationship between HSS and the Sheriff’s Department, and will create a “pipeline” for justice-involved individuals, establishing a standardized process of intervention and treatment options, and ensuring continuity of services upon release.

Reducing recidivism among individuals with mental health concerns and substance abuse disorders would benefit not just the individuals served, but also the general public and taxpayers, said Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing.

“I would say 75 percent of the total jail population has a mental health or drug issue,” Rohlfing said. “If we can get these people the help they need instead of just locking them up, we would reduce the money needed to house them long term. In the big picture, we’ll be able to focus our attention and resources on violent crime.”

This new initiative will complement the existing Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) program, which is currently facilitated by HSS in Monroe County.  Through ARI, non-violent offenders are given the opportunity to engage in intensive treatment and case management services in lieu of a prison sentence. ARI participants must be recommended by the court.

HSS and Sheriff’s department staff, along with other members of the newly-formed Collaborative, will convene for an official kickoff meeting in Washington D.C. on April 26, 2018.

I am personally very excited about this opportunity, not just for our organization, but for the future of our community.

– Anne King,
HSS Executive Director