Inside: Little City Responds to the COVID-19 Crisis
A Note From Our Executive Director “A hero is someone who, in spite of weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.” —Christopher Reeve Dear Little City Family and Friends, The past few months have been some of the most difficult ever experienced for people at Little City, in our communities and throughout the world. This unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us physically, mentally and emotionally. And when faced with such challenges, it can be easy to back down and surrender. But I am beyond proud to say the residents, staff and supporters of Little City have answered these challenges with a defiant resilience that has deeply inspired me. We often are so focused on providing the best support and opportunities for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities that we can take for granted what they have to teach us. During this crisis, they have taught us that joy does not get infected, that love is not confined by the boundaries of a shelter-in-place order and that their genuine friendships and smiles can still move us in profound ways. I have been inspired by seeing people share resources, reassure one another and go out of their way to make sure the most vulnerable are protected. Although we are advised against shaking hands, we are inclined to reach out. I am so proud of the team at Little City for making sure our participants, family and staff have the services they need to get through this challenging time. Our direct care providers and all staff have shown the passion and commitment that sets Little City apart. Whether it is a virtual birthday party so twin brothers can celebrate together or a cheerful lesson from one of the ChildBridge Center for Education teachers, Little City staff have found creative and innovative ways to keep our residents engaged and comforted each and every day.
Community members have rallied around Little City to make hundreds of masks for our staff who need them, donate to our mission as funding is threatened and help provide both essential and recreational items to our homes so our residents are supported. Everywhere I look, there are inspiring acts of kindness happening at Little City. Everywhere I look, I see heroes. While difficult days still lie ahead, we are proving that together, we are stronger than this crisis. In one of the worst times, nothing but the best has shone through at Little City. Yours in service,
Shawn E. Jeffers Executive Director
For the latest on how Little City is managing the COVID-19 crisis and to see ways to help, please use the following resources: • To learn about the many ways to help the Little City community, you can visit www.littlecity.org/waystohelp • Visit our website, www.littlecity.org/coronavirus, to find important information about Little City’s programs and services as the crisis evolves. • For information on the guidance we are following, please frequently visit the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health websites, as this information changes rapidly as more becomes known about COVID-19.
Table of Contents Page 4: DSP a true hero
Page 10: Impressing on the Press
Page 6: Staff and supporters help in a time of need
Page 12: V irtual birthday party a win for twins
Page 8: S chool excels with E-Learning
DSP a true hero When a Little City resident tested positive for COVID-19 in April, the call immediately went out to find a staff member willing to take on the challenge of providing 24/7 care for the length of the quarantine. The Direct Support Professional who answered that call was David Kim, which came as no surprise to his supervisor LaCresha Everett. “I absolutely love David’s drive and he was very courageous,” LaCresha said. “David is like a four-leaf clover, very hard to find and very lucky to have.” When David put his name in for consideration, he wasn’t sure he would get the assignment considering he had been at Little City for just under a year. But on Tuesday, April 7, David received a call asking if he was ready and he knew then he was about embark on an entirely new experience from what he had grown accustomed to during his first year on the job. David said the magnitude of quarantining with a resident did not sink in until he was handed a special N95 mask for additional protection against the virus. “Initially I was OK, but the brief moment I was scared was when they told me I could get rid of my normal mask and they handed me the N95 mask,” David said. “I kind of realized then this was a little more dangerous than normal.” After being supplied with all the personal protective equipment he would need, David entered the specially designated quarantine space at Little City. From there, he and the resident – who is nonverbal – would end up spending the remainder of quarantine together without ever leaving the space. While the constant care and isolation demanded by the quarantine was challenging, David said the support from the Little City team is what helped him make it through. Whether it was staff nurse Reuben Rosczyk training him on how to administer the resident’s medication or LaCresha dropping off home-cooked meals, David said he never felt a lack of 4
“ Without the people we serve, we would just be ordinary. I cannot help but to think that those we serve are as much heroes to us as we are to them.” support. Adult Residential Services Director Ola Olokun dropped off a specially requested Korean BBQ meal that David said neither he nor the resident will likely ever forget because it was such a morale booster when they both needed one. Despite the challenging and extraordinary circumstances, David said he didn’t feel like he was doing anything above and beyond until he had a video chat with the resident’s mother during the quarantine. “When I got to see [the resident’s] mother on video call and we were able to have that call with her together, I realized then I was doing something more important than my job,” he said. “She seemed really grateful someone was there looking after her son.” And for all the gratitude David received from the resident’s family, he said he is equally grateful to his co-workers and supervisors at Little City. Both David and the resident are out of quarantine, healthy and back to their normal routines. But David said he is approaching his job with even more appreciation for the residents than he had before. While he could not verbally communicate with the resident during the quarantine, he said he learned a great deal. “Every Little City employee plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the clients we serve, but it dawned on me that there are other heroes at Little City,” David said. “Without the people we serve, we would just be ordinary. I cannot help but to think that those we serve are as much heroes to us as we are to them.” 5
Staff and supporters help in a time of need “I am just happy to help any way I can and I know these masks can make a difference.” Sandra Pilger is helping Little City through the COVID crisis in innovative ways. As a Support Services Coordinator at the Countryside Center, she knows how to get people and supplies where they need to be on time. Her skillset has proven to be invaluable during the pandemic as she has branched out to nearly every facet of Little City to make sure people have what they need. Sandra has coordinated a food pantry by connecting with local grocery stores and receiving donations to supply every single Little City home both in the community and on campus with food they may otherwise not receive. Instead of bussing clients to and from the Countryside Center, the 16 drivers under her supervision are delivering the food to each and every home. In addition to bolstering the food supply and lessening the financial strain of grocery shopping, Sandra has also coordinated a robust team of volunteers and staff to create masks. Every Monday, a new batch of over 100 masks is delivered to Little City to make sure all direct care providers and residents are protected. “Prior to the COVID crisis, I hadn’t had an opportunity to work with Sandra and now I am so dependent on her,” said Tina Lowry, Little City Director of Health and Wellness. “Any instructions I had she took and ran with more than I could have asked for. She is a superhero in my eyes.” Like Tina, Sandra said this experience has allowed her to work with more people she had never previously interacted with. From Tina and her team of nurses, to the kitchen staff and residential teams, Sandra said it is the collaboration and team work that has made her coordination so successful.
The Friends of Countryside parent group has been especially helpful in gathering supplies for and sewing masks, she said. “So many people have stepped up, including my team of drivers who have helped sew masks, used their part-time hours to help with maintenance and have just been really good about stepping up and being flexible,” Sandra said. “It’s been difficult and a lot of stress, but getting to work with so many people has been real nice and made me feel more connected to it all. It’s been rewarding.” While Sandra has been a shining example of how Little City employees have gone above and beyond during the pandemic, community organizations and individuals have also played a big part in helping Little City. Groups like Community Keepers, Monika B Events, Marlene’s Baby Angels and The Masks Now coalition have donated materials and masks while business like the Palatine Jewel-Osco have been instrumental in helping with the food pantry. Individuals such as Amy Rehbock, Kim Della-Peruta, Cassandra Stephens and Nicole DiPaola have been incredibly helpful and even professional seamstresses have been involved in the communitywide effort. Nancy Baraglia, a professional tailor who has worked everywhere from David’s Bridal to big Las Vegas productions, said she knew she could use her skill to help and thought Little City was the perfect place to support after hearing about it from her daughter. “In my 56 years it never dawned on me I would be making masks. But you realize the need and feel so helpless and you want to do something,” she said. “I knew I could make them and I knew someone needed them. And to find out who that someone was, was a really good feeling for me.” Little City has been blessed by the outpouring of support from the countless staff, volunteers and community organizations who have gone above and beyond. While there are too many name, Little City thanks everyone who has shown extraordinary support in these unprecedented times.
Center for Education excels with E-Learning Little City’s ChildBridge Center for Education is adapting in remarkable ways to the COVID-19 crisis. As students have been unable to come to the school building, the staff at the day school has found creative and engaging ways to keep students sharp and focused on improving their skills during the pandemic. In fact, launching e-learning sessions has led to more focused one-on-one teaching and a closer relationship with the residential staff in the homes so students are receiving a more encompassing and consistent learning experience throughout their day. “The home staff is the glue that connects us right now,” said Meaghan Grap, an instructor at the school. “I can’t put into words how cool it has been to see. They’re rock stars. One of my students was doing laundry at the home, which blew me away. That wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t working together.” School Therapy & Clinical Coordinator Jessica Kingji said while launching the e-learning curriculum has had its challenges, it has been an eye-opening experience as to how effective it can be for students. As the staff get increasingly comfortable with the new approach, teachers have been able to make key adjustments such as more flexible lessons for students based in The Coleman Foundation Home and more planned out lessons for those in Larry’s Home. But no matter the specific approach, Jessica said students have shown a level of engagement and focus that at times surpasses what students display in the physical school building. Even housemates who are not students at the school have engaged with lessons from time to time. “The students crave this one-on-one attention, and in a classroom, you have to engage in a different way,” Jessica said. “It was overwhelming at first, and we need the homes to be honest with us and give us feedback and they have. The residential and the school staff have a new found appreciation for each other. We’re realizing the things we are capable of together.” School principal Phil Siegel said the school is actively disproving the dangerous national narrative that special education funding should be reduced during the COVID crisis because those students are unable to learn through virtual lessons. 8
He said if anything, students on the autism spectrum and with developmental disabilities can have new pathways to learning unlocked because of the sensory elements e-learning allows. In one case, he saw a video of one of the lessons where Meaghan was able to keep a student engaged and focused without getting distracted for 19 minutes – a feat even students outside of special education rarely achieve. “You can see this student totally engaged with what Meaghan was doing the whole time. For any student to stay engaged that long is a great achievement. These teachers can make that happen and it is such outstanding work,” Phil said. “The residential staff and parents and guardians for our community-based students have really stepped up. They’ve been such great partners with us in facilitating this learning.” The e-learning program has gone so well the school plans to try to expand lessons to include multiple homes at one time in some cases and potentially expand some lessons to the adult residents. When students are allowed back, the school also plans to continue e-learning in some form because of the great outcomes it has already produced.
Impressing on the Press The Daily Herald is the third-largest newspaper in Illinois. It has a circulation of more than 90,000 and prints roughly a dozen different publications. The sheer amount of paper coming off the printing press is overwhelming. But not for Justin. Justin has excelled as a bundle catcher and line worker since starting work at the Daily Herald’s printing center in October. He is responsible for getting all the product off the press and palletizing the bundles while ensuring the quality and counts are accurate and taking the load to the supervisor. It can be a fast-paced job that requires focus and attention to detail, and that has turned out to be exactly what Justin can bring to the table. “He is a quick learner and a great worker,” said Don Stamper, Production Director for Daily Herald Media Group. “He only needed a job coach here a few times but it didn’t take long for him to work on his own. And now he’s working eight-hour shifts, three days a week.” Justin was able to come across the opportunity in part because of his work with Chris Lucente, an Employment First Job Developer at Little City. Unlike many of the commonly seen opportunities in fields such as food service and retail, the Daily Herald position required a more unique skill set that Chris said Josh fit perfectly. His outgoing personality, ambition and independence led to him being a perfect candidate for the job, Chris said. Even in just his few months on the job, he has already impressed the president of the company during their conversations at the holiday party. Don said Justin’s personality is a morale booster for the whole team. “Justin is a really outgoing guy and an easy-going guy,” he said. “He’s quite a character and great to have here.” And Justin isn’t the only one in his family impressing in community employment. His brother Daniel, who went through Little City’s Employee Development Services program, also was placed in a community job this past September at Uncle Julio’s Hacienda in Kildeer. Justin said he is proud of what he and his brother have accomplished and loves the job he found. “I love my job,” Justin said. “The people here are so easy to get along with. Sometimes we crack jokes and sometimes we are serious but I like working with everyone.”
It can be a fast-paced job that requires focus and attention to detail, and that has turned out to be exactly what Justin can bring to the table. 11
Virtual birthday party a win for twins Paul and Payton were born one minute apart, so being separated on their 18th birthday was unthinkable. Paul, a resident at Little City’s Foglia Home, has no greater advocate or friend than his twin brother Payton, who wanted nothing more than to be together on their 18th birthday on April 2. But because of COVID-19, they were unable to celebrate together in person. “Payton reached out to me directly, writing an extremely eloquent, emotionally charged account to be with his brother to celebrate their 18th birthday together,” said Rich Bobby, Chief Program Officer of Children’s Services. “I assured him our team would do all we could to make their birthday together one of the most memorable.” And the Foglia team came through, hosting a party neither brother will ever forget. From decorating the house in Paul’s favorite Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters to recording Paul and his housemates making cupcakes for the occasion, the Foglia team was able to create a memorable video call for Payton and his family to celebrate with Paul.
“ It’s nice to know when I’m not there that Paul has people to step up and really care for him.”
While the Foglia team, including Chasity Anderson, Genie Cendana and Heather Hancock, went above and beyond to make the party happen, Genie said it was really Payton who made sure everyone knew what would be needed to throw a perfect party for Paul. “Payton is probably the biggest advocate I know for Paul and just one of the biggest advocates I know in general,” Genie said. “He comes to visit Paul with or without their parents, gets his friends involved with Paul and comes every weekend to take him for ice cream or do something fun. It is that special twin relationship.” And as far as Payton is concerned, Genie and the rest of the Little City staff are just as special for Paul. Payton said Paul’s three years at Little City have been a huge improvement from the previous agency he attended. He is more active and happy and he can even see the improvement in communication and other life skills. “They made our birthday feel real special and it meant a lot. It went amazingly well,” Payton said. “They were all really easy to work with and did a great job. It’s nice to know when I’m not there that Paul has people to step up and really care for him.” Still, nothing beats their special brotherly bond and Payton said he plans on taking Paul to do his favorite activities of swimming and basketball and spend a night or two as a family as soon as they can. And Little City would like to thank Apple Inc. and Diamond Assets LLC for their generous iPad donations that have allowed these virtual visits to be possible for our residents and their families.
Mark your calendars for Little City’s upcoming events! Start your virtual fundraising campaign now by forming a team, making a one-time donation or starting a Facebook Fundraiser:
LCI Golf Classic | www.littlecity.org/lci
Sept. 21, 2020 | Twin Orchard Country Club | Long Grove, Illinois You are invited to the most prominent and longest running charity golf invitational in the Chicago Greater Area. Join us for a day of golf, networking and the opportunity to raise vital funds for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This year, Little City is proud to honor Jeffrey Krug, founder of J. Krug & Associates, for his efforts both personally and corporately to better our community through volunteerism and philanthropy.
Little City PowerWalk | www.littlecity.org/powerwalk Oct. 3, 2020 | Busse Woods | Elk Grove Village, Illinois
Join other supporters at Little City’s Inaugural PowerWalk at Elk Grove Village’s picturesque Busse Woods. Form a team, compete with your friends and fundraise to benefit Little City’s superheroes! Not all heroes fly—some walk!
• The Coleman Foundation • Elk Grove Township • Hanover Township • Illinois Arts Council
• Palatine Township • Township of Schaumburg • Village of Arlington Heights • Wheeling Township
• Discover • Ernst and Young • Friends of Countryside • Hands on Suburban • Holy Family Catholic Community Parish and Academy • Jewel Osco: Palatine • Knights of Columbus • Little City Parent/Family/ Guardian Group • Little City Virtual Friends Volunteers
• Looney & Associates • Lou Malnati’s: Schaumburg • Motorola Solutions • Netrix LLC • Nitel • Omron • Pan American Bank • Volunteer Match • Village of Schaumburg • William Rainey Harper College • Zurich Foundation
Thank you to the following funders for their generous grants that support the work and mission of Little City. The below referenced grants were awarded on or after January 2020:
Little City extends its appreciation to the following groups and countless individuals for their recent volunteer work with us since January 2020: • Allstate • Assurance • AstraZeneca • Berkshire Hathaway Koenig Rubloff: Schaumburg • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois • Builtech
Lou Malnati’s delivers Little City partnered with Lou Malnati’s to provide personal pizzas for over 100 Direct Support Professionals on the front lines at Little City. Tanya Syperski, relationship manager of volunteer services, helped coordinate with Adult and Children’s residential to distribute on campus and at CILAs. Little City’s Health and Community Services team helped deliver the pizzas to grateful staff. “The Little City team wanted to do this as a small thank you for our DSPs,” Syperski said. “At the time, we were two weeks into the closing of our programs and everything was so unknown. We got really positive feedback for the unexpected gesture, which I think made everyone appreciate it so much more.”
Knights in shining armor Earlier this year, Jim VanCleve from Little City’s Lakeside Center attended the Knights of Columbus, Lake Forest Council 1268 to give a brief presentation to the Council on the programs that Little City offers. After the presentation, Andrew Lotts, Grand Knight of the 1268 Council, presented a generous check for $3,150 to Little City.
Make a $300 donation and receive an above the line tax break. Visit www.littlecity.org/caresact for more information.
Thanks to the generosity of The Coleman Foundation, all donations $50 and greater will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $25,000. Save time and a stamp by donating today at www.littlecity.org/donate.
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