Find the Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living in their new offices at 1 Les Buzz Way, Spring Valley, Illinois
As part of INCIL’s look at the work of CILs throughout Illinois, we asked Executive Director Sarah Stasik to share highlights of the Illinois Valley Center for Independent Living where outreach is BIG.
DC: Thank you for speaking with me, Sarah. What’s been going on lately at IVCIL?
Stasik: Since January, we’ve hired three new people and, thankfully, they’re all still here and doing great! Our Independent Living Specialist is Beth Townsend; Community Transition Coordinator is Beth Rockford; and Youth Transition Coordinator is Laura Moyle. They really understand the independent living philosophy and what case management means, and they’re excited to be here.
DC: I see on your summer/fall event listing that your group has been busy! You’ve had 19 events in October and November alone.
Stasik: For one thing, we’ve been getting consumers together for monthly events. These often include an educational piece as well as the opportunity for fun.
For example, we offered training on how to schedule and ride our local door-to-door public transportation. After the training, our consumers boarded the bus, paid their fares, went bowling together, and then reversed the process so they had two opportunities to practice.
Another event was our FriendsGiving potluck, which built a lot of goodwill. We discussed supports for children at a Regional Office of Education Parents Night focusing on mental health at an area high school. And Culver’s lets us come out the third Wednesday monthly. We bus tables, pass out bookmarks, start conversations, and explain our services.
Outreach is so important. There are still so many people who don’t know what we do. You have to keep telling your story over and over and over again.
DC: I see you have a fun social event and service project in early December.
Stasik: Yes, we have hired the Starved Rock Trolley to take staff and consumers to and from two nursing homes. We’ll go Christmas caroling and then have hot chocolate and cookies together.
DC: It sounds like these local events are helping IVCIL make connections where people are, rather than exclusively trying to get potential consumers to come to you.
Stasik: Yes, and our big event has been opening an outreach office in the former St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator. The OSF has reimagined rural health, including repurposing this building for social services, counseling, and mental health. IVCIL has an office in a prime location, and we have been providing services there 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and other hours as needed since July.
We can offer now medical equipment loans and ITAC amplified phones at the LaSalle and Streator locations. It’s really cool!
We actually got a $10,000 Anne Baker Charities grant for the Streator office. We mainly use it for rent and technology. With that, we have increased access for the underserved residents of this area who can’t travel the 40 minutes each way to our office in LaSalle.
DC: IVCIL is really making a positive community impact and your outreach efforts are beginning to show broader results. I understand the community is also starting to come to you, as well.
Stasik: We actually have our own grant program. The IVCIL Community Grant provides funds for any individual with a disability or any organization that serves people with disabilities. Through that grant, we are able to enhance existing services and help add new community services. We have already improved a park, provided a closet and bedroom system for a resident who then became a consumer, and improved a school classroom. And now we are providing communication cards for the police department. These cards are designed to improve communication between the police and persons with low-to-no communication ability, as well as with persons for whom English is a second language. The police department saw our publicity about the grant and contacted IVCIL with this idea!
The grant money we’re able to distribute has helped us make connections, serve consumers, and increase visibility.
DC: You’ve already described a busy, engaged CIL serving consumers throughout your five counties. I want to ask you about one more thing. What’s the latest on your FastTrack program?
Stasik: Our FastTrack program is finally going to launch with our new Youth Transition Coordinator Laura Moyle. We’re starting in small and very rural Putnam County!
DC: Success! I am so happy we could talk about the activities, the new horizons, and the team at IVCIL today, Sarah. Thank you so much for your time!
* The IVCIL team serves LaSalle, Bureau, Marshall, Stark, and Putnam counties.
* Compared to Illinois averages, all 5 counties have a higher percentage of persons 65 years and older, and a higher percentage of persons with a disability.