Crisis Center Still Helping Victims During Health Crisis
Suburban Cook County/Eastern Will County, IL – While restaurants and bars have closed, and many stores and businesses are temporarily shutting their doors, the Crisis Center for South Suburbia continues to aid victims of domestic violence through essential, and sometimes lifesaving services.
“Until quarantined restrictions change, we will be here to help,” said Crisis Center Executive Director, Pam Kostecki. The agency, which has been celebrating its 40th year of providing shelter, housing and other services to suburban Cook and Eastern Will counties residents, has had to make some changes, but ceasing services is not one of them. “We are doing our best to stay virus-free,” said Kostecki. “However, at a time like this when stress is at an all-time high, and families are cooped up together with little in the way of an outlet, we are doing our best to provide services and shelter from violence. We want victims to know we are here to help.”
The 35-bed shelter and other Crisis Center programs have been adapted to better protect the health and well-being of the clients, staff, board and volunteers. While the 24-hour hotline (708-429-SAFE) remains operational and trained staff are standing by ready to offer help and resources, the shelter has reduced its capacity to one household per bedroom and there are thirteen total bedrooms. Access to common areas such as the family room and dining area has also been restricted to small groups. The shelter has instituted additional pre-screening questions and new residents are isolated from others for 24 hours until they are deemed symptom-free as an additional precaution. The shelter facility has also been deep cleaned and access is currently restricted to essential staff and current residents only.
Programs such as the agency’s free counseling services for victims of domestic violence have found resourceful ways to make it work. Currently, many regular clients are using TeleHealth or phone calls and texting to connect with counselors. Advocates that work in local courthouses and hospitals have also experienced a reduction or elimination of on-site service delivery due to court schedules and hospitals wanting to minimize risk for non-essential staff, yet staff continue to work with local police departments following up on domestic disturbance calls to educate victims on their legal rights and available services.
Kostecki has temporarily suspended volunteer services to the agency operations, which is a tall order since the agency has over 200 volunteers that help keep programs running and its two Neat Repeats resale stores operational. The stores have been closed to protect shoppers and many volunteers who work there, most of whom are seniors and considered a higher risk population. A reopening date has not been announced yet.
“I am touched by the outpouring of kindness and offers to help our clients in the midst of this health crisis,” said Kostecki. “People have been offering to bring cooked meals and prepared food, non-perishable items and cleaning supplies. A few even offered to bring games to keep kids busy while school is not in session.” Kostecki shared the need for Uber and Lyft gift cards which will provide safe transportation for clients when they need to pick up prescriptions or attend to an emergency need outside of the shelter. “This is a pretty special place,” Kostecki said. “And we could never do what we do without the support of the community, especially during trying times like these.”
For more information on the Crisis Center for South Suburbia, visit www.crisisctr.org.
Pam Kostecki, Executive Director