Golf, Tennins and Paddle Classic

Posted by Avenues in News on 6/1/2020

On May 29, Illinois entered Phase Three of its reopening plan. With your help and that of many others, the folks with disabilities at Avenues have been able to weather the COVID storm and now can look forward to brighter days as Avenues and the rest of Illinois returns to normal.

In particular, your support of our COVID fundraising helped us to reach the match needed to receive a $25,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation. Thanks to everyone for your financial support, as well as for the many gifts of sanitizer, cleaning products, homemade masks, groceries and meals delivered to our residents and staff. Your concern for the people of Avenues is greatly appreciated.

As Illinois begins to open up, the same is true for the people with disabilities at Avenues. More outings, visits on the patio (socially distant of course!) and walks in the neighborhood are taking place. While Public Health rules still do not permit us to open up our homes for larger family visits, tours and contacts with the general public, plans are being developed to make this possible.

You may have seen media stories showing that nursing home and state institutions have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Although Avenues is not licensed to provide medical or nursing home services, many of the practices regarding prevention and interactions with outsiders must still be considered in our congregate living settings. Illinois Public Health and Human Services are in the process of finalizing their recommendations for community group homes and once ready, we will be implementing these in order to fully reopen the Avenues residences.

Additionally, as directed by the Illinois Department of Human Services, our day services remain closed to program participants until at least June 30. Contract packaging and assembly operations are being maintained by staff as we want to be able to continue providing paid work opportunities to our folks once the state closure is lifted.

While individuals living in an Avenues residential program continue to receive day services at home, our ability to support individuals not living at Avenues has been limited to internet and telephone interactions. We know that each family’s internet capabilities vary widely and we have been reaching out on a regular basis to those at home to keep everyone as included as possible.

The Avenues Thrift Store is open for online sales and curbside delivery. Currently closed to in-house customers, Chicago is scheduled to lift its non-essential retail closure order next week. After cleaning and the completion of renovations to comply with distancing and prevention measures, our Thrift Shop is expected to open for in-store customers (with capacity limits) the week of June 15.

Case management and Self-Directed Support services continue to be provided through telephone and internet conferencing. Public health mandates still prevent any in-person visits. Individuals and families can reach out to their case manager at any time for needed support, counseling, referral and other important services.

As businesses begin to reopen, Avenues Job Placement services will begin the process of returning Avenues participants back-to-work. Each case will be different; much depends on the specifics of each person’s health and living circumstances. Additionally, the pace at which employers can bring back their employees and accommodate the work abilities and needs of the Avenues participants must be considered.

Avenues is sensitive about our Staff members who have children at home and now must provide for educational and other child care needs. These staff members, as well as those with individual/family COVID related health concerns, will be able to continue their furloughs with full health coverage from Avenues.

Staff members who are working from home will continue to do so. COVID related adaptations are being put into place at the Avenues offices. Recommended distancing, hygiene, sanitation and other prevention measures will be included in new policy and practice guidelines. The Jane and Albert Wohlers Administrative Center is planning to welcome staff back on a limited capacity basis sometime after June 15. In-person visits and meetings at the Wohlers Center will not take place until Phase Four or later of the Illinois reopening plan. Staff will be notified about any return-to-work dates and schedule accommodations.

Unfortunately, we have had to announce that our Annual Dinner has been cancelled for this year. We will reschedule at a time when all the Avenues participants, families, supporters, volunteers, boards and staff can get together to celebrate the independence and success of individuals with disabilities at Avenues.

We hope to announce the rescheduling of the Avenues/Gorman Golf and Tennis Classic to later this summer. Typically taking place in July, there is an outside chance that a revised version of our Classic can take place in September. Keep your fingers crossed that the COVID crisis will subside enough for this event to take place.

Since March 15, everyone’s lives have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. The people of Avenues have shown their resilience and carried on despite all of the limitations posed by this pandemic. Your concern, understanding and support have been instrumental in helping to get Avenues through this crisis.

Take care, stay healthy and please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions, comments and ideas.

Thank you.

Bob Okazaki


Tags: covid-19 , coronavirus , coleman foundation , thrift store , jobs , job placement , avenues/gorman golf and tennis classic

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