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Geneva Mental Health Board awards grants to 11 agencies

'No one person is greater or lesser than the next'

GENEVA – The Geneva Mental Health Board awarded $178,750 to 11 social service agencies that provide aid to Geneva residents.

Board chairwoman Suzy Shogren announced the board’s annual November grant awards at a Dec. 4 City Council meeting.

Agencies that received grant awards were:

• Association for Individual Development - $46,000
• Ecker Center for Mental Health - $32,000
• TriCity Family Services - $28,000
• Lazarus House - $20,000
• National Alliance on Mental Illness - $11,750
• Renz Addiction Counseling Center - $9,000
• Suicide Prevention Services - $9,000
• DayOne PACT - $8,000
• Elderday Center - $7,000
• The Joshua Tree Community - $5,000
• Fox Valley Special Recreation - $3,000

Shogren said approximately 1,790 Geneva residents are served by these agencies.

“It is our hope that the residents of Geneva seek out the help that is available to them when they find themselves in any kind of need,” Shogren said. “We believe that no one person is greater or lesser than the next. We hope our community has a conscious purpose and a collective dream to support one another. One of the best ways to demonstrate that sentiment is through social support, especially in times of crisis.”

Geneva voters created the Mental Health Board in 1989 by referendum, Shogren said.

Its primary responsibility is to solicit, review and allocate grant funds to qualified community agencies and providers that serve Geneva residents, Shogren said.

The board also participates in advocacy and education efforts, Shogren said.

The awards are based on the cost of service, the number of Geneva residents who are served and a qualitative analysis of that service, Shogren said.

The agencies provide emotional wellness programs, intake services, counseling, family-to-family education presentations, direct crisis intervention, hotline calls, support groups, opioid treatment programs, case management, food and shelter for the homeless, employment assistance, transportation services for those with developmental disabilities, caregiver support and respite opportunities, Shogren said.

In a letter Shogren presented, one of the grant recipients detailed how much difference the financial support of $3,000 for Elderday Center in Batavia made for a father and daughter.

In the letter, Elderday Executive Director Lori Hewitt detailed the life of a man who had always been independent until he developed dementia and became difficult for his family to take care of at home.

But at Elderday, the man “made some new friends. His mood improved and his cognitive state stabilized,” Hewitt’s letter stated.

As his daughter volunteered at Elderday, she saw how her dad loved being with his friends, and she received caregiver support as well.

Shogren relied on the imagery and sentiment of Frank Capra’s Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as she reported on the board’s work and the impact these agencies have in the community.

In a scene where Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey looks at a sign on his office wall that reads: “All that you can take with you is that which you have given away.”

“The movie’s theme – such as the value of human life, plus how much influence one person has on another, the love of family and friends, and what it takes to build and be a part of a community – reminds us to continue to prioritize the social service needs of the residents in Geneva,” Shogren said.

In all, there were 12 agencies seeking grant awards from the Geneva Mental Health Board, Shogren said. Second Act/Scene 2, a Geneva-based charity that provides low-cost therapy, did not get a grant because it did not meet all of the required criteria. Shogren said she hoped the charity would be able to meet all the criteria for next year's grant awards.

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