The Healthcare Initiative
The costs of untreated mental illness are staggering, for families and for communities. Mental health problems are a central issue of our time, interwoven with poverty, homelessness, violence and despair in every community. Sinai’s Healthcare Committee seeks to make an impact on this and contribute to tikkun olam or repair of our world.
A decade-long advocacy initiative, supported by Chicago Sinai since 2009, came to fruition October 29, 2015 with the opening of The Kedzie Center—Chicago’s first community-funded public mental health center located at 4141 N. Kedzie.
An important step in the process was the passage of the Community Expanded Mental Health Services Act of 2011, which Sinai Healthcare Committee member Jeff Becker helped draft. Sinai members then supported the legislation with a coordinated calling and letter-writing campaign. Lead sponsors of the law were state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-12th), state Rep. Patti Bellock (R-47th) and state Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-8th).
Funding comes from a referendum passed by voters in the district, who agreed to a .4% increase in their property taxes to pay for mental health services for residents.
Sinai members have been involved in every facet of this project from 2009 to the present day. Two of our members sit on the Kedzie Center’s board. Other Sinai members have provided pro bono legal services and PR consultation. And our rabbis are part of the interfaith composition of the Coalition’s Faith Leaders Group.
The Kedzie Center’s mission is to provide education, support and healing to residents regardless of their ability to pay.
The opening of the Kedzie Center will begin to address unmet needs across a swath of Chicago’s northwest side. Our hope is that this center will serve as a model that other communities might emulate. Since its opening last October, the Kedzie Center has impacted the lives of more than 500 people:
More than 700 therapy sessions have been provided
250+ teachers and staff received training
36 women participated in women’s groups
47 people joined parenting groups
39 older adults engaged in outreach programs to seniors
Volunteers are needed to help with marketing and PR, grant writing and grass roots efforts to expand the initiative to additional Chicago communities. For information contact Ellyn Daniels at dr.ellyndaniels/at/rcn.com