5/14/20 - A Message to Providers from Secretary Hou: Community Bright Spots

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Dear Partners,

Below are two organizations going above and beyond - they are the featured IDHS Community Bright Spots today.

Senior Services Plus, Inc., Alton, Illinois

Senior Services Plus, Inc. (SSP) is a nonprofit social service agency that offers opportunities and resources to people as they age. Their service line includes a Wellness Center and a Meals on Wheels Program, as well as travel, transportation, nonmedical in-home care services, and more.

SSP and Riverbend Head Start joined forces to create care packages for local families during the coronavirus pandemic. SSP not only provides support for seniors, but also provides services for other community members in times of need. Many families, especially with young children, have found it hard to visit stores during the COVID-19 closures. In April, the Head Start staff asked SSP to create care packages for families whose children are enrolled in Riverbend Head Start who added in stuffed animals, diapers, wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and school supplies to support learning at home. Click here to read a local news story on their efforts.

Gary Comer Youth Center, Chicago, IL

Gary Comer Youth Center provides youth development, academic enrichment, along with college and career readiness services. In the midst of uncertainty, Comer Education Campus is staying committed to providing meaningful education and enrichment programs for their youth and their community through virtual learning experiences that educate, inspire, and ignite creativity.

Their virtual learning center has evolved into a SPACE that provides connectivity, communication, and creative expression opportunities for young people to thrive during this challenging time. The Gary Comer Youth Center is currently hosting activities that create works of visual arts, culinary, and urban agriculture.

Programs include Robotics, Digital Design, Fitness with Paris, Little Bites with Chef Jon, and Music, the Arts Apprenticeship Visual Arts "Creative Sparks" Virtual program, Urban Agriculture Comer Crops, and Urban Agriculture with "Chef Carlos of The Promontory".

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the youth counseling program, which serves all youth in the building by providing in-person counseling sessions and therapeutic groups, as well as referrals to resources to support families, has also continued its work by moving online to provide counseling virtually. Their team of youth counseling professionals has been working to ensure the continued stability and reliability of mental health and wellness supports to their members through individual and family counseling sessions. They are also working to ensure families are connected to critical resources in their community at a time when they're needed the most.

Thank you to SSP and Gary Comer Youth Center, along with all of the IDHS-funded organizations who have adapted to continue serving people in every corner of our state.

Keep an eye out for more Community Bright Spots and continue to send submissions to DHS.Stakeholder@illinois.gov.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS