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Stories like these are happening every day at Cornerstone.

We strive to provide hope and the tools the people we serve need for a better life and a better tomorrow.

Read more below.

  Joe's Story

Joseph Hisaw was a volunteer firefighter in a small town when tragedy struck. While in the midst of battling a raging fire, he fell through the roof of a house and was badly injured. He was in a coma for weeks. When he finally awoke, Joe had amnesia. He remembered nothing of the fire, or even being a firefighter. He could not recall that he was a veteran who had spent nearly 10 years in the Army. And, sadly, he did not remember being married or having children. Joe spent years in hospitals and nursing homes, slowly recovering physically, but, unfortunately he has not fully regained his memory.

Doctors doubted Joe would ever walk again, but with persistence, he did it. His therapists weren't sure that he would be able to move out of his nursing home into his own apartment, but he did. And, when he was ready to re-enter the workforce, Joe turned to Cornerstone. The staff at Cornerstone spent time with Joe, to get to know his skills, as well as his needs. Most importantly, they listened to him and what kind of job he wanted. Joe has always been a very friendly, outgoing guy, so he wanted to work with people. But, due to his injuries, he had to work part-time. For several months, Cornerstone helped Joe fill out applications and attend interviews. Some seemed promising, but there was nothing definite. Finally, in late October 2016, Joe was hired by the Walgreens near his home, where he works approximately 15 hours a week. He is primarily a greeter--a perfect occupation for him, but he has also learned to use the register. Most of the year, Joe walks to work, though when the weather is especially difficult, he gets a ride through Uber. Joe also receives some in-home assistance to help him with managing his household, but lives independently in an apartment. His children are now adults and he enjoys visiting with them, too. It is Joe's dream to one day open a restaurant, where he can greet his customers give back to the community that has been so supportive of him.


     
  Jobs are a Priority for Cornerstone!

Jason DeSimone has worked at Jewel in Joliet for over a decade. He loves his job and they love him! Judy Murawski has worked at Culver's in Lockport for three years. She is proud to be a part of the staff and does her best every day on the job! Both Jason and Judy acquired their jobs with the support of Cornerstone. For 47 years it has been Cornerstone's mission to provide services that help people with disabilities find and keep good-paying, meaningful jobs as well as live in warm, safe homes in the community. New state and federal directives are encouraging Cornerstone and other service providers to expand the way to provide employment and housing services for people with disabilities.
"Employment First" is a policy supported by the state and the U.S. Department of Labor that promotes community-based, integrated employment as the first service option for individuals with disabilities. It is founded on the belief that all citizens, "regardless of disability, are capable of full participation and integration in their communities and that includes employment." Illinois adopted an Employment First policy in 2013.

This means that individuals with disabilities must be offered the opportunity to work at a job in the community before suggesting alternative services, such as sheltered employment.

Since 1997, Cornerstone has assisted 2,713 people with securing competitive jobs with employers in the community. Cornerstone is committed to Employment First and is one of eight organizations in the state selected to participate in the pilot project for this service model. Furthermore, the agency's Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program is currently the only program in its region with an exemplary fidelity score, as reviewed against the standards in the Dartmouth-Supported Employment Fidelity Scale. As Cornerstone continues to be a leader in providing services, Employment First aligns with our core beliefs and current practices.

     
  In Her Own Words

Pam participates in Cornerstone's Community Housing Program, where she receives support services to help her live independently in the community. She also receives counseling and psychosocial rehabilitation services at Cornerstone to help her with issues related to her mental health condition. Pam has come a long way since first coming to Cornerstone, and she shares her experiences here--in her own words.

"When first becoming a client at Cornerstone, I was physically sick, to the point where I could have died. Mentally, I was hopeless and my world was black, due to my horrific childhood and past. I was very much a loner all through my life. I was in and out of a lot of private and state hospitals. None of the hospitals did any good for me.

"Cornerstone was the first place that seemed to be able to help me with my struggles. This is where I started making progress and having hope. I learned who I was and started to be able to care for myself and get self-esteem. Between the staff, PSR groups and my dog Codi, I was able to learn that people really do care. I would push staff away at first, because I thought it was fake. I never felt I was worth it, because of my past. Even after pushing them away, the staff didn't go away and they stayed. It made me realize I was worth it and that I really did have people who cared.

"Today, I have sunshine even on a rainy day. I have friends who are important to me and really do care. I have my brother and his family, who I love and care about. I never had them in my life before, so this is special to me. I also have Cornerstone and their support, which is also very important to me. Now, Cornerstone believed in me enough to help me go through school to be a WRAP facilitator, which we do three groups a year. WRAP is a group where you help people develop an action plan, to keep their life stable on a daily basis. I also have been speaking at different symposiums to help educate people about the WRAP program. I go to refresher courses for WRAP, which has helped me meet outside people, who are very supportive. Having outside help and support is important. I live a functioning life with coping skills, dignity and respect. I live a stable life with people who care about me. I have always told staff how I wanted a chance to give back what Cornerstone has so freely given me over the years and now I am able to do that in my life. I never thought any of these things would be in my life, and now here I am. "

     




 
     
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