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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.

Ben Stortz
President/CEO, Cornerstone Services

Agency Update for May 28, 2020

I hope you all had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend and are enjoying these early "previews" of summer weather. It has been a little over a month since my last update, and I wanted to let you know what Cornerstone has been up to lately, as well as what changes will be taking place in the near future regarding our services during the coronavirus pandemic.

While there has been a lot of talk about "reopening" of businesses across the country, it's important to remember that Cornerstone itself never really "closed." Our day programs have been on hiatus under a statewide order since early March, but all of our employees have continued working to provide services and operational support. Many agency staff have been providing activities and training to over 250 residents at our group homes. Technology has been a valuable tool for our behavioral health team, who maintains regular communication with individuals receiving permanent supportive housing from the agency. And, despite the recent serious downturn of our nation's economy, our employment services team still secured three job placements for workers with disabilities in April!

As our state is poised to soon enter Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, I wanted to let you know about the changes that will be coming to Cornerstone over the summer, as we hope to gradually resume a more familiar service model.

Our day programs will remain on hiatus through June 30, as directed by the state. Residents will continue to participate in activities and training in their homes, with plenty of opportunities to get outside and safely keep active in the warmer weather.

Some of our behavioral health team will begin to offer programming at our Black Road location, though many services will still be provided remotely.

We plan to resume our contract packaging operations at West jefferson Street on a limited scale by mid-June. The companies we work with have been extremely supportive of our need to temporarily halt this service, but I know they are as eager as we are to get some production up and running again.

Staff members who are able to work remotely will continue to do so as much as possible, but other employees will be slowly returning to our buildings. Everyone who enters a Cornerstone building will be required to wear a face covering, especially in common areas of buildings or in the presence of others. Social distancing of at least six feet is also mandatory. We plan to administer temperature checks to all who enter our buildings.

Over the past two months the community has shown tremendous support for our mission. We have received many donations from individuals and businesses, including personal protective equipment, cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer, and financial contributions.

Just a reminder that our Spring Raffle drawing has been rescheduled to Thurs., June 18. If you would like to purchase tickets, you can order them on this website--just click on our Events page.

Cornerstone's Board of Directors and I appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we work to develop a "new normal" for the agency. All of us at the agency thank you all for your support to help make this journey a safer one.

Ben Stortz

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.

Click Here for 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.

You can download the newsletter right here: Cornerstone First Quarter 2020 Newsletter

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.

To view the report, click Here

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Cornerstone is an Illinois-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), fully licensed by local, state, and federal agencies and is accredited by CARF, The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission.
The agency accepts Medicaid and private insurance. Cornerstone is a member agency of the United Way of Will County

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