4/25/20 - A Message to Providers from Secretary Hou: Community Bright Spots

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dear Partners,

Thank you to all the organizations who shared their stories with us. You are our Bright Spots during this time of unrest.

Below are a few organizations that are going above and beyond and are our Community Bright Spots today. Keep an eye out for more Community Bright Spots and continue to send submissions to DHS.Stakeholder@illinois.gov.

University YMCA, Champaign, IL

University YMCA offers a multilingual helpline, immigration legal services, pathway to citizenship, immigrant advocacy, and census education.

Many of us may be at home, but the dynamic team at University YMCA has not been deterred! They are staying sharp with ongoing trainings on topics like COVID-19, small business relief, and unemployment benefits. They are creatively using many different platforms--from WhatsApp to WeChat, Facebook, Google Meets, and Zoom--to ensure that immigrants in Champaign County have access to information and services during this challenging time. They have raised over $40,000 over the past month to provide emergency relief to the most vulnerable members of our communities who do not have access to other forms of financial assistance.

Caritas Family Solutions, Southern Illinois with administrative offices in Belleville, East Alton, Mt. Vernon, Effingham, & Carterville

Caritas Family Solutions provides pregnancy care, adoption, foster care, counseling, residential therapy for children severely traumatized by abuse and/or neglect, assisted living, employment training for low-income seniors (SCSEP), and independent living for adults with developmental disabilities (CILAs).

They have added programming for residents in CILA homes that is specifically geared toward COVID-19 education. However, this education includes a creative spin; "Zombie Apocalypse Survival Training." It addresses many of the needed educational pieces for COVID-19, but in a much more fun and understandable way. Many of our residents have had difficulty understanding the COVID-19 outbreak, so finding ways to communicate the changes has not been an easy task and we greatly appreciate the creativity of the Caritas Family Solutions staff.

Crisis Center for South Suburbia

Crisis Center for South Suburbia provides Domestic Violence services, including a 24-hr hotline, emergency shelter and housing, counseling, court and medical advocacy, prevention, and community education services.

In an effort to best keep domestic violence victims safe and healthy, the Crisis Center for South Suburbia moved them out of the shelter and into apartments and hotels where they could practice social distancing and minimize the threat of the Coronavirus. Staff worked tirelessly to move 13 families in just five days! Today, we are delivering food baskets and prepared meals several times a week to these families, and providing counseling and an array of support services via phone, FaceTime and Telehealth.

Thank you again to all our organizations going above and beyond to continue to provide for Illinoisans.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS