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Local News

Mental health agencies get $139K in annual grants

GENEVA – The Geneva Community Mental Health Board has made its annual grant awards to agencies that provide counseling and support for people with mental health issues, addiction, developmental disabilities, homelessness and other services.

The board receives funding through property taxes and awards the grants to local agencies that serve Geneva residents. A dozen local service providers were awarded $139,000 in grants, officials said.

In a report to the Geneva City Council, board President Suzanne Shogren said the state's financial situation with regard to local service agencies weighed heavily on the seven-member board as it considered applications for funding.

"This year, more than ever before, we were acutely aware of the tremendous need of the service providers for additional funds due to the precarious financial situation in our state," Shogren said. "The discernment process weighed heavy in our hearts and minds, knowing the amount of need that exists."

Grant recipients and amounts they received were:

Association for Individual Development - $31,900

• Ecker Center for Mental Health - $31,800.

• TriCity Family Services - $26,900.

• Lazarus House - $11,700.

• Renz Addiction Counseling Center - $7,800.

• Day One Network - $6,900.

Suicide Prevention Services - $5,600.

• Elderday Center - $5,100.

• National Alliance on Mental Illness - $4,300.

• Fox Valley Special Recreation Association -$2,500.

• Operation Snowball - $2,300.

• Joshua Tree Community - $2,200.

Denise Edwards, executive director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, serving southern Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties, said the agency will use the award to do presentations to health classes at Geneva High School.

"One of our main goals is to reduce the stigma that is around mental illness," Edwards said. "One of the best ways we can do that is by reaching younger people [with] information about mental illness and resources for them – and just some facts that are not very well known."

Edwards said students might have a parent who is mentally ill, and their presentation helps students know where to go for help – and to understand that mental illness is treatable

"We always get a very positive reaction from the students," Edwards said. "Mental illness is not rare, but very common, and a general health concern."

James Otepka, executive director of TriCity Family Services, said the funds will be used to continue offering quality, affordable mental health services on a sliding scale.

"Despite what goes on at the state level, we are fortunate that our local community does reaffirm that the community wants and appreciates quality, affordable mental health services," Otepka said. "We are always grateful. It is one revenue stream that lends some stability for an otherwise shaky funding base."

Otepka said the agency gets the same affirming message from the St. Charles Mental Health Board, and the INC Board that serves southern Kane County, including Batavia, Kaneville, Blackberry and Sugar Grove townships.

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