|A Behavioral Services Story,
Rick is a U.S. Veteran. He currently receives counseling and permanent
housing assistance through Cornerstone Services in Joliet. Once homeless, he
now has a stable home and friends he can turn to for support.
I am diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and have had substance abuse issues in
the past. Since coming to Cornerstone I’m now able to enjoy my existence,
rather than trudge through it. I’m enjoying my family, my sons--and I have a
dog. I get out and do things. Go to dances and lots of meetings. And I’ve
made a host of friends, which is pretty new for me.
I was always quite a loner. I had really no choice but to be a loner because
of my illness. It alienated me from people. I really couldn’t function in
social settings. Today I’m able to have friends and go out and socialize,
which is a big change.
I was in The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee. They asked
me what I was going to do once I was discharged and I had no idea. They
suggested I apply to Cornerstone in Joliet and they did the paperwork for
me. I was accepted into the program August 1, 2006. Since then I’ve worked
through a lot of issues and developed coping skills. With my medications
stabilized, I can live a pretty normal life now. I have a lot of support
besides the counseling and psychiatrist. I have a veteran’s group I attend
and a case worker that is extremely helpful.
One of the definite aspects of having the veterans’ group is because of the
similarities and being able to understand each other and help each other.
I’ve always had a place in my heart for other veterans. It’s one hand
helping the other.
|A Community Services Story,
An Artistic Dream
Three aspiring artists from Cornerstone recently realized their dream of visiting a professional artist studio and learning how to assemble their own portfolio, thanks to artist Richard Schmidt.
Richard invited Joyce, Judy, and Erika to his home in Frankfort, Illinois after learning from Cornerstone’s vocational manager Terry Ber that it was their dream to meet a professional artist and visit an art studio.
“He had a beautiful house,” said Joyce. “It makes me happy that I saw a real artist and he liked my work.”
Schmidt also reviewed their artwork and gave them advice on matting and framing. He showed them where and how to sign their art so the signature blends in with the piece. Most importantly, he encouraged them to seek out local places to exhibit their work.
|“We showed him our artwork and he said we are real artists!” added
Erika. “It was outstandingly wonderful, outstandingly great! I am just the
happiest woman you can ever imagine in the world!
“He liked my drawings,” said Judy. “I gave him one of my drawings.
Richard and his wife Betty gave the three visitors and staff member Terry Ber a tour of his home studio to see where he works. At the end of the tour, he presented the visitors with matted prints of one of his paintings.
“Richard said ‘You gave me one of your drawings so I’ll give you one of mine!’” added Joyce. “I was happy to see his work and he gave me one of his paintings!”
Joyce also offered some advice of her own to anybody with a similar dream: “I would tell everybody that can draw to do your best!”
“His pictures that he painted were really, really beautiful!” added Judy. “I was very happy to meet the artist and his wife Betty and to see his studio!”
|An Employment Services Story,
Don't Give Up
That’s the advice Freddie has for people with disabilities trying to find a
place in the workforce. "It may look like you’ll never get a job, but you
have to keep a positive attitude and keep trying."
Freddie knows this firsthand. The local resident was paralyzed in 1996 and
was unable to find employment until Cornerstone opened up an employment
services office in town, and, with persistence, helped him land his first
job in 15 years.
Freddie works part-time at a pizzaria in Bourbonnais. He busses tables right
now, but has ambitions to add more responsibilities to his job in
| "I love to work. That’s all I want to do. The hardest thing about
becoming paralyzed was not being able to do my job anymore. Now, I’m working
again, and making plans to get my drivers license and save up for a car."
Cornerstone opened a Kankakee location in 2009 after receiving funds from
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and since then has
assisted in securing 25 job placements for people with disabilities in
Kankakee County. "I’m truly grateful for the help I’ve received from
Cornerstone," Freddie added. "Now, I have to get ready for work."