Oak-Leyden Developmental Services is hosting a fundraising campaign to create a new mental health program for its adult participants as they cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oak-Leyden, a long-standing Oak Park-based nonprofit that serves adults and children with developmental disabilities in nearby Chicago’s western suburbs, seeks to bring in at least $ 25,000, which will be used to support a new position for a licensed clinical professional advisor to provide group and individual therapy for adult clients.
Oak-Leyden has created a GoFundMe account to collect donations and the campaign runs throughout the month of June. Oak-Leyden is headquartered at 411 Chicago Ave.
Elisabeth Loren, director of development at Oak-Leyden, said people with intellectual disabilities, including those with limited verbal communication skills, depend on routine for their livelihood. They need “consistent” access to services such as seeing their doctors or therapists regularly or participating in activities with friends and family, she said. And for years Oak-Leyden was a pillar, until the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020.
Loren told the Wednesday Journal that Oak-Leyden was forced to shut down its day programs, which typically offered classes, clubs, field trips, or volunteer opportunities and, due to limited resources, was unable to create options. virtual.
“For several months we have not gone virtual. We didn’t have the technology either [the] ability to go virtual, ”Loren said, noting that Oak-Leyden resumed its daily schedules in October 2020 as Illinois slowly and cautiously reopened. Loren said Oak-Leyden has maintained its life schedule. community even during the onset of the pandemic, but clients who lived in the group’s homes, or “zillas,” were suddenly catapulted into a new normal with their roommates and visitors, trying to grasp the COVID guidelines.
All in all, the initial absence of the daily schedules, coupled with the changing COVID-19 guidelines, created a number of obstacles for customers.
“Say you were the staff member [and tested positive for COVID-19], and I used to see you come in every Saturday, and now you don’t come anymore. And it’s been two months, and I don’t understand why you’re not here, ”Loren said, expressing concern, concern and anxiety from the customers in front.“ When [our] customers got sick [with COVID]the house would have to be quarantined, but they would still need staff, which means that the staff has switched to a cohabiting model. “
“[It] it somehow boils down to what you’re used to every day, and suddenly it changes immediately, “he continued.
While safety measures related to the novel coronavirus and the number of cases have changed dramatically over the past two years, Oak-Leyden staff are excited about the lasting effects of the pandemic on the mental health of their customers, Loren said. The hope for this new program is to offer customers an additional level of support. With the addition of a licensed professional counselor, Oak-Leyden aims to provide “structured conversations” to participants and make them feel less alone, reduce their anxiety and more motivated to stick to treatment plans, according to the GoFundMe campaign.
Loren said that once the financial goal is met, Oak-Leyden plans to start the program by July or August.
“We have to make it work. This is a crucial service that our customers need now, ”she said.
Find out more
To learn more about Oak-Leyden’s new mental health program, visit www.gofundme.com and find “Support the New Mental Health Program by Oak-Leyden” in the “search” tab of the site. For more information on Oak-Leyden Development Services, visit www.oak-leyden.org.