INCIL continued our “Around the State” feature in March with a spotlight on Executive Director Dawn Hand and the Stone-Hayes Center for Independent Living in Galesburg where building community relationships reaps rewards for their consumers.
INCIL – Dawn, Stone-Hayes CIL is based in Galesburg and serves Henderson, Knox, and Warren counties. How would you describe the area?
Dawn Hand – “We’re in a pretty rural community. With a population of approximately 38,000, Galesburg is the largest town in the three counties, the next largest one is closer to 8,000, and then in the hundreds after that.”
INCIL – What are some of Stone-Hayes’ busiest services? Looking at your website, it seems like you do it all.
Hand – “We really do.” It has a lot to do with community relationships.
“We have a really good relationship with the schools. Our Youth and Family Services Advocate Cassidy Klein is on the go all the time. She works with FastTrack students and with both students and parents who need help navigating the IEP and 504 process and other issues such as behavioral issues. Parents often need help knowing which questions to ask and how to get started.
“We’re also getting stronger with our Independent Living services. We have two full-time advocates doing that. We’re offering more groups and that’s an area I would really like to move forward; that is, helping communities understand what we do.
“I’ve been very happy with our local health departments,” Hand continued. “They are making more agency referrals lately, and that is working out well.”
INCIL – Why do you think that is happening?
Hand – “This is a benefit of the pandemic. We hear so much about the pandemic causing a lot of service-related issues and struggles, but this is actually one thing that it helped; it forced us to increase our communication with other agencies. We have a great relationship with our DRS office and are getting fairly quick responses from them. They are helping us get our personal assistants approved quickly, one even the same day.”
INCIL – Why the name “Stone-Hayes?”
Hand – “Stone and Hayes are two family names. Dee Stone was a strong advocate for disability rights in our area when the CIL was started in 1996. The Hayes family was, too. The two family names were combined in naming the CIL.”
INCIL – Last question for today. You’ve been at Stone-Hayes since November, 2021. Why did you choose to work in a CIL?
Hand – “I worked in a nursing home for five years before coming here. Nobody wanted to be there, although I understand there are many important reasons for them. Here, I really enjoy the fact that we get to help people continue to live in a place of their choosing. And through Adult Transition/Community Reintegration we help people regain that important aspect of their lives and live where they want to live.”
The other part of life at Stone-Hayes that makes it rewarding to go to work is the team. “We have a small but mighty staff. Everyone works hard. Everyone is passionate about the Independent Living philosophy. We have a really good staff and I really appreciate their work.
“I read the [INCIL website] Spotlight about Pete Roberts who is still working at 74 years old, and I thought, ‘Will I still be doing this when I’m 74?’ Really, I can see myself doing this for a long time. I do enjoy it.”
Learn more about the Stone-Hayes CIL. at www.stone-hayes.org.