GCS Newsletter THE LEAFLET May/Jun 2022

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Garden Center Services


Jimmy & Gerry


The Illinois legislature concluded their budget session early this year and I am personally heartened by what I see as a continued authentic effort to improve our state’s financial commitment for services to individuals with intellectual and/ or developmental disabilities. While our advocacy efforts did not gain additional monies above the Governors introduced budget, there is still significant investment the states service delivery system.

There is a real benefit to having the long view derived from my almost forty-five years of working within the Illinois system. For many years we have been inadequately funded and Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE.WISH.BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.

-Mandy Hale not so long ago we were waiting several months or longer to be paid for our services.

The Guidehouse rate study that the state itself had conducted, has been a true bonus. Having a third party independently identify the actual costs we incur to do what we do is incredibly helpful! Here are some highlights to this years budget: • Increase in our rate which will allow us to improve hourly wages for our staff • Increase in the rates’ non-program cost centers such as administrative costs, transportation costs, and the expenses related to room & board • Implementation of a Health Risk Screening Tool that could help adjust residential rates for persons with complex medical needs • An increase in the amount of base nursing hours continued on page 4

GARDEN CENTER FAMILY GARDEN CENTER INTRODUCES ONLINE COUNSELING SUPPORT FOR STAFF The COVID pandemic has been challenging for all of us, especially so for those who are frontline workers. Garden Center is committed to helping our employees live their best lives, and mental health is an important part of a healthy life. In an effort to prioritize mental health and well-being at Garden Center, we recently began providing our employees and their dependents, additional support with Talkspace online therapy. Gerry & Asia discussed stress in a recent video for GCS staff

Talkspace is a digital mental health service that connects members to thousands of dedicated providers. Users can participate in live sessions and/or send their therapist text, voice, or video messages anytime, anywhere.

In honor of April being Stress Awareness Month, Gerry Beagles, Executive Director, and Asia Fobb, Moody House Team Lead (and a person who was instrumental in the implementation of GCS’ Talkspace project), recently filmed a segment for our staff discussing how they deal with stress and how Garden Center staff can utilize the Talkspace platform as a part of their self-care. Several staff have already signed up to use the anonymous service and as the word gets out about this popular option, we expect those numbers to grow even more. We are proud to announce we were notified May 2nd that the Blue Island Community Healthcare Foundation has awarded a $15,000 grant to help Garden Center’s Talkspace initiative. We are grateful for their support in funding this important project.

VICTORIA & TONI’S POEMS FEATURED ON UIC CONCERT A few months ago, we told you about a writing program at Garden Center through the LYNX Project. Now, we have even more big news! Last month, Victoria and Toni who are a part of the LYNX Project group, had their poetry performed by University of Illinois students in a virtual fundraising event put on by NAFME UIUC Chapter and UIUC MESA. LYNX Project Virtual Concert

You can listen to the entire event, which also features beautiful musical performances of works through LYNX’s Amplify Series - Amplifying diverse voices through new song commissions, on the GCS in the News page on our website.

GCS SURVEY UPDATE Programs like Garden Center Services receive monitoring and oversight from various state and federal groups. A typical survey starts with one of these groups arriving at the agency unannounced or with short notice. They request documentation on several areas from individual’s progress toward their goals, to staff background checks and training certifications. They interview persons served, their families, and other stakeholders. These surveys typically take several days, up to a week. It requires the participation of multiple Garden Center staff to gather the requested information and meet with the surveyors to answer their questions. These surveys, although sometimes stressful and always time consuming, are conducted with the goal of ensuring agencies that serve people with intellectual disabilities are providing quality services and supports.


Garden Center programs are under the oversight of three such groups: Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Bureau of Accreditation, Licensure and Certification (BALC), and Division of Developmental Disabilities Bureau of Quality Management (BQM). Over the past two months, Garden Center had three surveys, two of them on back-to-back weeks. It isn’t typical to have so many surveys that close together, and the largest of those surveys (as a result of a pandemic delay) covered three years of information including the challenging first year of COVID. However, even in this unusual situation, Garden Center performed extremely well, receiving scores in the high 90s for all program areas on each survey. We are proud of our staff for this amazing accomplishment and the work they do every day that made it possible.

SECOND CHANCE THRIFT SHOPPE UPDATE A group of folks we support have been working side-by-side with volunteers and staff to get the Second Chance Thrift Shoppe space ready for the public with a goal of formally opening our doors next month. Stay tuned to our social media channels for updates. In the meantime, there are a few things you could do to help us get going: WORK We are looking for a Retail Associate. This is a paid position that will assist the Manager in processing donations, training volunteers, and serving customers. Retail/Thrift experience is preferred. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in this opportunity, contact Michele at mhula@ GardenCenterServices.org VOLUNTEER Second Chance Thrift Shoppe is a support business. That means proceeds from our sales go back to Garden Center to help fund programs and services. We run almost exclusively with the support of volunteers, which enables us to give the most possible back to Garden Center. Do you want to spend time alongside great people, get amazing discounts, and do good for Garden Center all at the same time? Complete a volunteer application on our website or contact Alaina, Second Chance Thrift Manager at aroche@GardenCenterServices.org DONATE Starting May 10th, we will be accepting donations of new and gently used items on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. These hours will be expanded as we get the shop up and running. For detailed information on items we accept, visit the THRIFT link on the Garden Center website. We look forward to seeing you at the Shoppe soon!

A Word From Gerry about recent changes in the GCS Board It is difficult to express just how helpful and involved the Board of Directors is with the navigation of our agency. I am extremely grateful for the guidance and encouragement they’ve provided during my nineteen years here.

Rep. Fran Hurley

This past month, Representative Fran Hurley, after six years on our board, had to step down. Her assistance, in so many ways, especially her legislative efforts to expand funding for agencies like ours, has been instrumental in changing the playing field for persons with developmental disabilities and we couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you Fran!

Fran’s vacancy on the board has been filled by Ms. Mary Ann Lema. Mary Ann is the Director of the Prairie Trail Public Library and is on the Burbank Chamber of Commerce board. She is an avid supporter of our mission and for years has employed a young man that attends our programs. A big welcome to Mary Ann!

Mark your

Save these important dates! May 14th Cones for a Cause at Rainbow Cone (see enclosed flyer) May 30th Memorial Day community day services closed June 4th

Sunny Smash Co-Ed Softball Tournament (details on back)

June 20th Juneteenth community day services closed



Mary Ann Lema


and independence 8333 S. Austin Ave. Burbank, IL 60459 10444 S. Kedzie Chicago, IL 60655 phone 773-941-4151 email info@GardenCenterServices.org web www.GardenCenterServices.org

GCS Nurse Maricela Pineda

May 6th - 12th is National Nurses Week and we want to take a moment to thank our nurse, Maricela Pineda. In the year that Maricela has been with us, we have improved our digital health record system and implemented a new computerized medication management system. Thank you Maricela for your incredible passion, work ethic, and love for the people we support. Happy Nurses Week!

Seeds Future


Donna Blair


Anthony Di Miele


Cindy Malloy


Lisa Beemsterboer

for the

Garden Center Services LEGACY SOCIETY

Shannon Benaitis John Dahlke Mary Gill Dr. Chris Grunow Mary Ann Lema Ava Rhodes - Smith Maria Zeimen, OSF

OUR MISSION Advancing lives of connection, contribution, and meaning for persons with developmental disabilities and the individuals that support them.

Contact Gerry at 773-941-4151 Ext. 201 for more information.

The Sunny Smash is almost here! Get your team roster together to compete or just mark your calendar to enjoy some sunshine and root on the players. GCS needs YOUR help: We’re looking for sponsors, teams, and volunteers. Please share with family & friends! CONTACT Sandi at scoleman@GardenCenterServices.org to volunteer, sponsor, or for more info. REGISTER or SPONSOR www.GardenCenterServices.org


Growing dignity

It’s National Nurse’s Week!

St. Christina Fields

11149 S Central Park Ave, Chicago TEAM REGISTRATION $300

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• A goal of moving 700 individuals off of the Priority of Urgent Needs list into community based services I think we can see things moving in the right direction. I truly appreciate all of the phone calls you made and emails you sent. I’m sure we’ll be reaching out for your support during the Fall legislative session as well as next Spring. This past Monday, May 2nd, I celebrated my 19th year as Executive Director of Garden Center Services! To say that coming to work here changed my life would be an enormous understatement. There is such joy and contentment that comes when one knows that their decisions have brought them to where they were supposed to be. Words cannot express my gratitude for allowing me to be part of this organization, this family. Thank you for all of your support and kindnesses. I love the picture of Jimmy & I! He was here when I arrived 19 years ago and I enjoy seeing him now as much as ever.