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Agency Update for July 16, 2020 There has been a flurry of activity at Cornerstone over the past month, as we begin to resume more of our services, while anticipating changes moving forward. We have taken time to reflect on important social issues as well as safely celebrate our nation's independence.
Our current visitation policy reflects the unique challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Outside visitors are not allowed into any agency locations. Family members wishing to see their loved ones at a group home must schedule in advance to avoid multiple visits at the same time. Visits will be conducted outside, while wearing masks and socially distancing. We understand how hard this may be for families, but it is an essential temporary precaution to protect staff members, residents, and their families.
Community Day Services
Our day programs will remain closed through August 31. We have convened a committee to develop an all-new approach to our day programs, which will allow program participants to receive some services at agency locations and in the community in small groups. Individuals who do not live in an agency group home will be able to return to the programs once the new format is underway. We are also excited about the possibilities of providing virtual programming. Safety is a priority, and we appreciate everybody's understanding that our day programs will look and operate quite differently as we adapt to this new reality.
In the meantime, many of our residents will continue to receive daytime services in their homes. Our staff are using their creativity to find opportunities to keep active. There are plenty of outdoor activities that can be done safely right now.
As Illinois began to emerge from the shelter in place order in June, our employment services team successfully placed five individuals with disabilities in community jobs and are looking to secure even more jobs in July. We have resumed our partnership with Ikea, collecting packaging materials at their Joliet warehouse to be recycled. The industrial operations program at our West Jefferson location is resuming activity with agency staff, and hopes to engage some individuals who receive services for paid production work by the end of August. Again, strict precautions will be in place to ensure the safety of staff and program participants.
Our behavioral health team in Kankakee is making the transition to a new location in downtown Kankakee. This location will better serve many of the individuals who receive our services and those who may be seeking our services as it is more centrally located and close to public transportation.
Independence Day Celebration
Our staff and residents had a chance to reunite (at a distance) with some staff members they haven't seen in months--just in time for the July 4 weekend! We held a holiday drive-by party and passed out picnic party bags for each home, full of healthy snacks, a table cloth and American flags. It's been such a long time since we have seen many of the people who receive our services that a brief chance to say hello meant a lot to all of us!
Commitment to Equality & Social Justice
Cornerstone strongly supports efforts to confront systemic racism and inequality in our country. Choice, dignity, and opportunity are the building blocks of our agency mission, and we firmly believe these apply to all people. We continue to maintain a dialogue with staff, program participants, and community members to address instances of racism.
As we are now in Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, more staff are returning to agency offices. Safety of everyone at Cornerstone is a top concern, as always, and we appreciate your understanding that email and phone calls are the preferred means of communication with staff. Again, thank you for your continued support of our agency and the people who depend on us every day.
Read Our Latest Newsletter! Cornerstone's First Quarter 2020 Newsletter is out and you can read it right here! Find out about Cornerstone's successes and challenges during the Covid-19 epidemic, as well as some of the amazing supporters who have helped us along the way.
Agency Update for June 15, 2020
It's hard to believe, but we are nearly halfway through 2020. For most of us it has been a year of challenges. We are experiencing a great deal of unrest and uncertainty at this time, and it is quite natural to be feeling a little anxious about the world.
At Cornerstone, we are constantly learning from our experiences--especially those of the past few months. In all of these challenges we see opportunities. Cornerstone has never been afraid of change, and we anticipate more changes going forward in 2020.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our day programs have been on hiatus since early March under a directive from the state. We now know that they will remain closed through August 31. This means that the earliest we can resume our day programs will be Tuesday, Sept. 1.
What will our day programs look like when they open up at the end of the summer? Much of this is still in the planning stages. We expect strict social distancing requirements to still be in place. This will limit the number of people who can attend programs at our Van Buren, Joyce Road, West Jefferson, Oneida, or Harvard locations on any given day. This may mean some portions of the programs will take place offsite. Our staff are working hard to come up with creative new ways to reimagine our day programs and offer the types of community-centered activities that encompass our mission, while meeting the needs of program participants safely.
With Illinois' shelter-in-place order lifted, some staff are returning to agency offices to resume more of the services that had been temporarily placed on hold. This is especially true for our behavioral health and employment services departments, who will have more in-person interaction with individuals for counseling, job searches, and job coaching--following safety guidelines, of course.
In the meantime, many of our residents will continue to receive daytime services in their homes. But, this doesn't mean they will be stuck inside all day. Our staff are excited about the summer and the opportunities to get out and get active. There are plenty of outdoor activities that can be done safely right now.
One activity we're looking forward to is our holiday drive-by party. With the Independence Day weekend coming up, the agency is assembling picnic party bags for each home, full of healthy snacks, a table cloth and American flags. We will be inviting each house to hop in their van and come by one of our agency locations on a designated day, so we can give them their party bag and just say hello. It's been such a long time since we have seen most of the people who receive our services that just a brief visit like this will mean a lot to all of us!
While this may not be the summer any of us expected, I am confident that we will make the most of every opportunity available to have fun and remain active. And, as time passes I know our agency will emerge stronger and ready to bring our mission back into the community.
As always, thank you for your continued support of our agency and the people who depend on us every day.
President/CEO, Cornerstone Services
Cornerstone One of Will County's Top Employers Cornerstone is thrilled to announce that we have been voted one of Will County's best employers by readers of the Joliet Herald-News! Community members clearly recognize the high-quality services we offer to people with disabilities and the talented, dedicated staff members who provide them on a day to day basis.
There are many benefits to working at Cornerstone. If you are interested in joining our team, please visit our "Careers" page.
Read Our Latest Newsletter! Cornerstone's First Quarter 2020 Newsletter is out and you can read it right here! Find out about the many exciting activities that have taken place at the agency over the past few months--including celebrating our 50th Anniversary and new success stories.
Cornerstone 2018 Annual Report Cornerstone's 2018 Annual Report is now available online! Learn about our achievements over the past year and meet some of the people who are making progress every day at the agency.