Oak-Leyden Developmental Services is hosting a fundraising campaign to create a new mental health program for its adult participants who are dealing with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oak-Leyden, a longtime nonprofit organization based in Oak Park that serves adults and children with disabilities in the nearby western suburbs of Chicago, is seeking to raise at least $ 25,000 to be used to support a new position for licensed clinical professional counselor to provide group and individual therapy for adult clients.
Oak-Leyden has set up a GoFundMe fundraising account and the campaign is running throughout June. Oak-Leyden is headquartered at 411 Chicago Ave.
Elizabeth Lauren, director of development at Oak-Leyden, said people with intellectual disabilities, including those with limited verbal communication skills, depended on a living routine. They need “constant” access to services such as regular visits to their doctors or therapists or visits to activities with friends and family, she said. And for years, Oak-Leiden has been a mainstay – until the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020.
Lauren told the Wednesday Journal that Oak-Leyden has been forced to close its daily programs, which usually offer classes, clubs, excursions or volunteer opportunities, and is unable to create virtual options due to limited resources.
“For several months, we really didn’t go virtual. We didn’t have the technology either [the] the ability to become virtual, ”Lauren said, noting that Oak-Leyden resumed its daily programming in October 2020, when Illinois slowly, cautiously reopened. Lauren said Oak-Leyden maintained its community living program even at the start of the pandemic, but clients living in group homes were suddenly brought back to normal with their roommates and visitors trying to grasp the guidelines. COVID.
Overall, the initial absence of daily programs, together with the changing guidelines for COVID-19, created a series of obstacles for customers.
“Say you were an employee [and tested positive for COVID-19], and I was used to seeing you come in every Saturday, but now you don’t. And it’s been two months and I don’t understand why you’re not here, “Lauren said, expressing concern, concern and concern to customers. “When [our] customers get sick [with COVID]the house will have to be quarantined, but they will still need staff, which means the staff has been relocated to a living model.
“[It] it kind of comes down to what you’re used to every day, and suddenly it just changes right away, “she continued.
While safety measures around the new coronavirus and the number of cases have changed significantly over the past two years, Oak-Leyden staff are interested in the lasting effects of the pandemic on the mental health of their customers, Lauren said. The hope for this new program is to give customers another level of support. By adding a licensed professional counselor, Oak-Leyden aims to help provide participants with “structured conversations” and make them feel less lonely, reduce anxiety and be more motivated to stick to treatment plans, according to the GoFundMe campaign.
Lauren said that once the financial goal is achieved, Oak-Leyden plans to start the program by July or August.
“It simply came to our notice then. This is an extremely important 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 Oak-Leyden’s New Mental Health Program” in the “search” section of the site. For more information on Oak-Leyden’s development services, visit www.oak-leyden.org.