Community Service Council & Spanish Community Center

team up to better serve Joliet residents

 

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Picutred Left to Right:  Bill Kohl (CSC Board Member), Will County Board Minority Leader Herb Brooks, Jr, 
Christina Casillas (CSC Director of Housing & Financial Counseling), Rosie Verdin (Spanish Ctr Board Mbr), Will County Executive Larry Walsh,
Robert Kalnicky (CSC Executive Director), Denise Lozano (CSC Housing Counselor), Veronica Gloria (Spanish Ctr Executive Director), Anastasia Tuskey (CSC Board Mbr) 

 

            JOLIET – At today’s meeting, the Will County Board recognized an important partnership that will greatly impact Joliet’s housing market. The Community Service Council of Northern Will County and the Spanish Community Center are joining together to form a HUD-approved agency in downtown Joliet that will assist clients with housing and financial literacy.  

            “Both the Community Service Council and the Spanish Community Center have done a lot to help the residents of Will County,” said Will County Board Minority Leader Herb Brooks, Jr. “This partnership will enable these agencies to expand their services to the residents in our Spanish speaking communities.”

            The two United Way of Will County agencies will provide a housing counselor onsite at the Spanish Community Center, Monday through Thursday, to offer services such as rental counseling, financial literacy and education, foreclosure prevention counseling, home pre-purchase counseling, and information about the program Illinois Hardest Hit Fund,

            “It’s possible that we’ll have even more programs to roll out in the near future,” said Robert Kalnicky, executive director for the Community Service Council of Northern Will County. “This is just the beginning of a long partnership with the Spanish Community Center.”

             Since 1973, the Community Service Council of Northern Will County has offered a variety of counseling services, such as clinical, marriage, domestic violence, and anger management to the local residents. The council is also certified by the Department of Housing and Urban Department to provide housing counseling, at no cost, primarily in the areas of mortgage default and rental eviction. CSC has assisted more than 4,000 families in finding new homes.

            Since 1969, the Spanish Community Center has offered a variety of “wrap-around services” in both English and Spanish to the Joliet community including: clothing and furniture vouchers, IDHS applications and renewals, employment services, weekly food pantry, housing counseling, and resource and referral program. In 2016, the Spanish Community Center assisted 95 local families and received a top-performer of bilingual housing counseling rating by the State of Illinois as part of the Latino Policy Forum’s Operation HELP.

            Veronica Gloria, executive director, said she is also proud of this partnership, “Joliet has many needs in the area of housing which makes our partnership a natural fit,” Gloria said. “I’m glad that the county is moving in a direction that will truly benefit everyone. Often, when people are struggling with housing, they are struggling with finding a job, getting resources for food or need furniture. This is where many of our other wrap-around services come in.”

            “Together, these agencies will offer vital connections to safe, affordable housing in Will County,” said Will County Executive Larry Walsh. “This partnership is a win-win.”

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Picutred Left to Right:  Bill Kohl (CSC Board Member), Rosie Verdin (Spanish Center Board Member), Veronica Gloria (Spanish Center Executive Director), 
Robert Kalnicky (CSC Executive Director),  Denise Lozano (CSC Housing Counselor), Lauren Staley-Ferry (Spanish Center Board Member), 
Christina Casillas (CSC Director of Housing & Financial Counseling), Duffey Blackburn (Spanish Center Board Member)

 

 

Restoring Jenny’s Hope – Recovering from Abuse

Note: The names in this true story were changed to protect our client’s confidentiality and rights.

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About 3 years ago, a young mother (we’ll call her Jenny) sought clinical counseling for herself and three small children: a 3 year-old, sweet, quiet boy, a 4 year-old rambunctious boy and a 5 year-old adorable girl. This mother’s situation was simply heartbreaking. Her past involved leaving home at an early age due to sexual abuse and meeting a man who was clearly on the wrong path. Soon after, she became pregnant and he wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. While pregnant, she met another man that she thought was the man of her dreams (we’ll call him John). John helped her through labor and even signed the birth certificate as the child’s father. However, shortly after marrying him, he began abusing and sexually assaulting her against her will almost on a daily basis. As a result, Jenny became pregnant again – feeling trapped inside a terrible situation and alone, with nowhere else to go. Jenny believed the lie that John had been feeding her – that if she left, she wouldn’t be able take the children with her.  Another child came and went while she tried to stay in the situation and make John happy. Eventually, her circumstances were too much to bear. Unable to stand the abuse, Jenny chose to leave her kids and went to live on the streets until she eventually found a shelter. There, she was advised that her husband couldn’t keep her children from her against her will (unless the court took part in the decision). She immediately began fighting to get her children back and decided to move in with a distant relative to get
her life back on track. When John finally turned over the children to her, they were sick, dirty, and worn down.

 

Soon after getting her children back, Jenny moved. In her new town, she met a wonderful man who was helping her raise her family and brought joy back into her life. Then Jenny’s dream life was interrupted when a dreadful letter in the mail arrived. John was awarded visitation of the kids. This is when Jenny showed up at Community Service Council for assistance. I could see that she was stressed out and completely exhausted and that her children were terrified and very unhappy. Jenny would need a lot of support to get through what turned out to be a two-year court battle. 

 

At first, I helped Jenny with managing her children’s behavior problems which included acting out, talking back and throwing tantrums. I taught Jenny about reward charts and impulse control. We also spoke about abuse, self-esteem, personal space, and inappropriate touching. Most of all, I built a relationship with this family founded on trust and safety.

 

As the kids began to feel safe, they reported that John would laugh at their progress - telling them that the counseling support they were getting was ‘stupid.’ The little boy began regressing in school, wetting his bed and exhibiting intense anger. The little girl was more vocal about her feelings and reported that John was verbally abusive to them leaving her and her brother in time outs for 5-6 hours at a time.  

AdobeStock 170853814 At this point, I called Child Protective Services, but without physical bruises, the case came back as unfounded. Eventually, the bruises started showing up. We reported this incident with no successful resolution. Fortunately, the little girl spoke up and started asking questions that pointed to sexual abuse which we could report as well. Meanwhile, John was good at doing everything the court required of him and kept dodging prosecution.

 

Next, the little boy stepped forward to report some inappropriate touching by John. As a result, I spent many hours on the phone with Child Protective Services, the public guardian, and the case managers to write reports, send emails and prepare Jenny for court appearances. Finally, things started to change and the DCFS investigations became more serious. The courts started interviewing John’s family members and John began dodging court dates and not returning phone calls. He no longer could keep up the façade.  

 

Later that month, I got an email that I will never forget. Jenny had won the case! The judge had awarded Jenny sole custody of her 

children. Jenny would be allowed to move her children out of state and John would receive no visitation.

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Currently, Jenny still checks up with me from time to time. The kids are back into a positive routine, loving life and are excelling in school. Their behavior has improved, their moods are much happier and Jenny is finally at peace and experiencing joy in her life.  

 

This story demonstrates the passion we have as counselors for our clients and how we always go the extra mile to support them. I want to thank the many agencies and donors that financially support CSC so that we are able to keep helping families like Jenny’s.

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