July 30, 2015
Team Leaders at Aspire Living recently took a trip to IKEA to makeover some of the community homes. The goal of this project was to bring the homes to life by getting rid of old, worn-down furniture and adding colors and nice accessories…at an inexpensive price!
Bond Community Home was first on the list. The home received new, polished hardwood flooring, a new leather sofa and love seat with decorative pillows, curtains, new beds and coffee tables. The icing on the cake was a new bathroom! Residents and guardians were ALL excited with the makeover.
At the end of May, the team took the Berkeley Community Home through a huge transformation! The main bathroom needed lights, updated colors and more space. The old, large bathroom sink was removed and in its place is a beautiful pedestal sink, along with new light fixtures and paint. The living room also received a makeover. The Team tossed out the old, ripped couches and replaced them with nice, discounted sofas from Value City Furniture. Residents felt the dining table was too small so they received a new dinette set with more space to invite over friends and family for dinner. Berkeley also new light fixtures and paint – volunteers at Aspire did a wonderful job bringing color to the Berkeley Home. Gloria, Team Leader at Aspire, said that both residents and families couldn’t believe the makeover results.
The Forest Park Community Home was last – but not least – on the makeover list. The residents were eager to see lush green grass in the front yard, just like their neighbors on the block. Barbara, House Manager, called Marco’s Landscaping who came out and removed the old hedges, turned over the soil, and planted new sod. Now the folks at Forest Park get up every morning to water their beautiful green grass!
The next item on the Forest Park ‘To Do List’ was interior design work. Barbara asked the residents at Forest Park if they wanted to design each floor around a different theme – and the answer was “Yes.” They came up with a theme of their favorite cities: Chicago, New York and Paris. The Team Leaders traveled back to IKEA to bring the three cities into the Forest Park Community Home. The team purchased pictures, lamps, curtains and other decorative artwork to hang and quickly decorated the house to surprise everyone. When the residents returned home, they entered the first floor apartment, which has the “Chicago Theme,” and everyone started screaming with joy! Barbara then said, “Check out the other two apartments,” and everyone ran past her and up the stairs so fast that they almost knocked her over! Eugene reached his New York apartment and said, “My mom is really going to like this!” Seconds later, Lissette, Alicia and Karina all begin shouting, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah! We are in Paris!”
“Bringing happiness and joy to the residents we serve is the best part of my job,” said Barbara. “A special thanks to the Team Leaders and Jamie. Working together, we are better. But, we’re not done yet…there is much more to come!”
We’ve had a great time participating in golf outings every Thursday. A few people from each home had the opportunity to experience and learn how to play golf, including how to hold a club, position their knees and swing the club to hit the golf ball. Aside from golfing, we were able to share a lot of time with friends, talking and laughing week after week. The season finally ended and we were invited to play golf and enjoy lunch. Dennis and Jason had the opportunity after lunch to take a spin in the golf cart.
Dennis said, “We went to the golf course and experienced how to drive a golf cart. I was driving all around the course.”
Jason said, “After lunch I drove the golf cart and I accidentally ran over some flowers. Then I caught on and I drove better. I had a good time!”
We would like to thank Andy and his crew for providing us with this great opportunity.
I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone loves a good carnival, whether it’s the Big Top or a traveling a great distance to see the events held at a carnival. These roving extravaganzas are as amusing as they are mysterious and as innocent as they are eerie.
Growing my, siblings and I would play carnival all the time. My brother would be the Grand Master and say, “Step right up! Come see the greatest show on the Earth.” Well, the greatest show was in the back of our building and we’d dress up in homemade costumes and host a mini carnival for the kids in the neighborhood. This is why I felt community home residents should experience the fun and excitement that a carnival has to offer!
On June 6, team members and residents went to experience the summer carnival. We all had the most amazing time and everyone wanted to return again.
We played numerous games, danced the night away, and sang like it was nobody’s business! Hydee loves to sing, so she picked up the microphone and participated in the Karaoke segment. Some of us danced and sang on stage to popular songs. Everyone a great time!
Residents also enjoyed tasty, mouth-watering food. You can’t enjoy the carnival until you have hot dogs, snow cones and cotton candy! Many won prizes of gift cards from McDonald’s and Subway. Even after the carnival ended, everyone continues to express that they’d love to put it on their calendar of events for next year.
In June, a group of seven volunteers from Convergint Technologies painted several rooms at the Franklin Park community home, including three bedrooms, the front room and the dinning area where the ladies who live there enjoy their meals. The ladies also had a hand in the house beautification – they chose the colors they wanted and we took a trip to purchase the paint. The Convergint group was very energetic and upbeat and was such a pleasure to have over. The group didn’t stop until they thought everything was dry, and they also helped put furniture back. They were hoping the ladies would like how the new colors looked, and sure enough they were very, very happy! The Franklin Park ladies are still saying “thank you.” It really meant the world to the ladies.
The Clinical Services Team at Aspire Living has had a few exciting changes over the past year. We have had new team members join the team!
Michelle Fry joined Aspire in March as the Clinical Services Counselor. Michelle has a MA in Counseling with a specialization in Rehabilitation Counseling from Adler University and became both a certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor. Michelle started her social service career at the Lake County Haven where she provided career counseling services to homeless women and continues her work in nonprofits at Aspire. Michelle is passionate about working together with the Aspire team to support participants in becoming independent and involved in the community. Michelle enjoys scrapbooking and spending time with her family and miniature poodle.
Next, Nicki Martinez came aboard in April. Nicki is the Behavior Enrichment Coordinator for Aspire. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology and a minor in English from Northern Illinois University. She has four years of residential experience working with children and adolescents with moderate to profound emotional and behavioral disabilities. Nicki and her husband of eight years have three amazing children. She is excited to be a part of the Aspire team and feels extremely lucky to be part of such a wonderful and exciting company. Together, we’re better!
The Associate Director of Clinical Services, Erica Sokol will be celebrating her one year anniversary at Aspire in September. Erica joined the Aspire team in the Fall of 2014. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with over seven years experience working in the Developmental Disabilities and Mental Health field. She earned her Master degree in Clinical Psychology from Benedictine University. Erica was excited to join the Aspire team because she was able to work with people she cares deeply about and with an organization that values leadership development. Erica believes everyone has the ability to live at their highest potential. She and her husband have two daughters and they enjoy family movie nights!
With these changes came the relationship with an outside consulting group of Board Certificated Behavioral Analysis to expand on the quality of behavioral programs for participants. Together, we have been working to address, “the Whole person,” behaviorally and emotionally.
Currently, the Clinical Services team is working on the development of therapy groups to meet the emotional needs of participants at Aspire. The groups will address depression, anxiety and emotional regulation with the objective to provide education, skill development and increase daily functioning at home and on the job. The groups will be run with a fun, multisensory approach to increase the success of the group for participants.
Beginning in 2016, the Clinical Services team will be offering groups to community participants. Look for more information to come!
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