On Wednesday, July 26, the Northwestern Settlement Mental Health Committee convened for the last time, marking the conclusion of a nearly ten-year collaboration to build out an essential suite of services for the Settlement’s growing community. In 2014, Settlement staff and current Board members Christine Jacobek, Amy O’Donnell, Bob Best, and Virginia Burnstine recognized a pressing need for mental health resources and support among members of the NUSH community. The recognition came at a time, like now, when the lack of availability of such services was sorely felt in Chicago and other cities across the country.
Over the course of the following years, the committee worked to raise revenues, establish partnerships with mental healthcare providers, and build out personnel and resources for the new initiative. In June 2017, Northwestern Settlement teamed up with Children’s Home & Aid to provide free, bilingual on-site counseling and wellness services to members of the Settlement community, a partnership that would become the Family Cares Center at Northwestern Settlement.
Fast-forward to now. The Settlement has established Camp Erin and Camp Mariposa, where youth who have experienced the loss of a loved one or are dealing with family substance abuse issues find a supportive space for bereavement, healing, and building resiliency. The Settlement also recently hired two family support specialists and one full-time therapist to solidify support for our community.
Although the Mental Health Committee has officially dissolved, the fruits of its work live on in the Settlement’s growing mental health and wellness programs, a foundation for providing – and expanding – critical support for many years to come.