A1 A1
New mental health facility helps those in emotional crisis

KANKAKEE — The Living Room Program is Duane Dean Behavioral Health Center’s new initiative to continue providing quality services to the residents of our community. The Living Room is a community respite program that offers an alternative to emergency room care for people experiencing an emotional crisis.

The program aims to provide a comfortable and safe, non-clinical space to adults, 18 years old and over, in the midst of a mental health crisis. It is free to the guests and is funded through the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The model — based on the Turning Point treatment center in Skokie — recreates the comfort of a home living room by using comfortable furniture, soft colors, soft lighting and inspiring artwork on the walls.

Because of the non-clinical model, those using the facility are referred to as “guests” rather than “patients.” There is no need to have a mental health diagnosis to use the facility.

“As soon as you’re at the door, you’re treated as a guest from the very start,” said program director John Prince.

A major goal of the program and the model is to help end stigmas surrounding mental health issues — specifically mental health crises.

“There’s still sort of that stigma, that taboo that’s been going on for years,” explained Prince. “We’re trying to market it as adult issues or life challenges, just taking some of that stereotypic language away.”

The Living Room is staffed by peers, or recovery support specialists, to help lessen the stigma. These are individuals who have a mental illness or another co-occurring disorder who have achieved a level of recovery that allows them to be of assistance to others.

Using their own experiences, they will assist guests in de-escalating the presenting crisis, as well as help establish short-term and achievable goals that respond to the guest’s specific situation. They will also educate guests on coping skills and develop wellness plans to include other resources that may be available in the community at-large.

“We would like the community all to take part in it and we would like to uplift our community,” Prince said, adding that another goal of the program is to increase morale in the community and teach productive and healthy coping mechanisms.

The Living Room will always be staffed by two Recovery Support Specialists and a qualified mental health professional. All will receive intensive training on various issues related to service provision, including trauma-informed care, active listening, motivational interviewing and additional relevant topics. Everything is one-on-one and there is no group treatment.

Raul Tinoco, director of communications and marketing for Rincon Family Services and Duane Dean Behavioral Health Center, said the program is built for guests to “sit, relax and talk with a peer who was struggling or in the past had mental health issues and they can support you and understand.”

In addition to both social and private spaces, guests will also have access to a meditation room, an art therapy room and a library. They’re also working toward a game room. There will also be a kitchenette area with healthy snacks and beverages for those guests in need of nourishment. The facility will also have showers and a laundry area for guest use.

“We just want to be that safe space in the community and be a partner with other organizations so we can get the most out of the resources within the area [so guests can] live that productive life that they are seeking,” Prince said.

Prince expressed that all who are interested in being a guest, RSS peer or volunteer are welcome to visit the facility to learn more. He also noted that the facility is observing social-distancing and cleaning protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Living Room Program is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. They goal is to eventually make the facility a 24-hour operation. It is located at 367 S. Schuyler St., Kankakee. For questions and more information, call 779-236-1177.

Little Aldi now big player in grocery game

Kankakee County is home to three Aldi grocery stores, but the community is far from the only one to open its arms to the discount grocery store chain.

The company anticipates opening another 100 United States stores this year. Did you know the retailer is now the third largest grocery store chain in the U.S. in terms of the number of stores here?

Aldi now has more than 2,000 stores nationwide — which includes one in Kankakee, one in Bradley and one in Bourbonnais — and the company is on track to have more than 2,500 by the end of 2022.

According to a recent story in ModernRetail, Aldi ranks only behind Kroger [more than 2,900 locations] and Walmart [more than 4,750 U.S. locations] in terms of store sites.

Aldi, a German-based company, opened its first U.S. store in 1976. It was on a slow-growth mode in the states during its first few decades, but within the past decade it has been rapidly expanding its footprint here.

Aldi had long had a store in the downtown Kankakee area, but Kankakee County has proven to be a strong market for the retailer and it built a new Kankakee store in 2009 along U.S. 45/52 on the city’s south side.

The company then added its second new location here in 2015 when it opened a store along Illinois 50 near St. George Road. This store replaced the Bradley store which had been located along Locke Drive. And just this past September, it opened its third location, this one in Bourbonnais, along Illinois 102 near the Bourbonnais Post Office.

According to Simon Johnstone, director of retail insight at Kantar, a leading data, insight and consulting company, the retailer had to first teach U.S. shoppers how to shop the “Aldi way.”

Basically, Aldi does not offer the vast selection of a Kroger, Jewel, Berkots, Meijer or Walmart. In exchange for that, the company offers groceries at lower costs.

Johnstone noted the company began an advertising campaign in 2012 called “Aldi Truths.” “You can’t eat frills, so why pay for them?” and “The same is always better when in costs less.”

The three Kankakee County stores are by and large the same store. The layouts are roughly the same as are the dimensions. Aldi stores are normally in the 16,400-square-foot range — about 10 percent of the size of a Kroger.

Don’t shop at Aldi if you are interested in popular brands of foods. More than 90 percent of its products are from its own private label brands, which is yet another way the company cuts costs.

And as every Aldi shopper knows, have a quarter in your pocket when you approach the store. It takes a quarter to use a shopping cart. But you get the 25 cents back when the cart is returned to its bin.

The Daily Journal’s Lee Provost writes about local business rumors, comings and goings and other notes of interest. Anyone with information to share should contact Provost at lprovost@daily-journal.com or 815-937-3364.

5 injured in weekend shootings in Kankakee County

Five people were injured in two shootings this weekend in Kankakee County.

The first occurred in the early morning hours Saturday in Bradley. According to police, officers responded to a report of shots fired in the 200 block of North Madison Avenue at 3:24 a.m.

Two men suffered gunshot wounds to their legs and were treated for what police said are not life-threatening injuries.

Police’s initial investigation showed there was an exchange of gunfire from a vehicle and from what appears to be the front porch of a house, according to police.

The vehicle fled the scene and was located by the Kankakee Police Department. The occupants fled on foot when the vehicle stopped, police say.

Anyone with information may contact Bradley police at 815-936-5100 or detectives@bradleyil.org.

The second incident occurred at 10:19 p.m. Saturday in Kankakee.

According to police reports, officers were alerted by the Kankakee Police Department’s ShotSpotter of shots fired in the 900 block of East Chestnut Street. The system triangulates the location of where shots originate.

While responding, officers observed a vehicle leaving the area at a high rate of speed. Officers followed the vehicle until it arrived at a local hospital.

The officers spoke to the two occupants, a 24-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman, who said that they were injured in a shooting. One had a gunshot wound and the other had an apparent wound from shattered glass.

Neither injury appeared to be life-threatening, Kankakee Police Chief Frank Kosman said.

Shortly thereafter, a third reported victim, a 20-year-old woman with a stab wound, arrived at the hospital in another vehicle.

At about 10:30 p.m., a woman called police and reported that she had fired at the victims in self-defense.

After an investigation, detectives arrested the 33-year-old woman on preliminary charges of aggravated battery with a firearm. She was booked into Jerome Combs Detention Center to await her bond hearing.

Shots fired report

Kankakee police also investigated a report of shots fired Saturday night.

According to reports, officers again responded to an alert by the ShotSpotter system at about 11:34 p.m. of shots fired in the 1300 block of Maple Street.

Upon arrival, officers located shell casings on the ground in the rear of a residence. No damage nor persons involved were located.

Anyone with information is requested to call police at 815-933-0405 or CrimeStoppers at 815-932-7463.

New rotary club looks to attract young professionals

A new rotary club is in the making for the Kankakee area — and it’s “not your grandfather’s rotary club,” its organizers say.

Rotary 609 will be geared toward young professionals. It will be what Bradley-Bourbonnais Rotary Director Frank Koehler believes the future of rotary will look like — not only in the area, but worldwide. Rotary needs to redefine and repurpose itself to be much more interesting to younger people, Koehler said.

Until the ‘80s, all rotary clubs were male-only, giving many the idea that it’s an antiquated organization, he said. But the organization has become much more inclusive and flexible in recent decades.

“What people envision rotary to be — 609 is not,” Koehler said. “It’s not male; it’s not lunchtime; it’s not sitting around a table. It’s ‘hey, let’s roll up our sleeves and get down to work.’”

Koehler said that the mission of 609 will be developed by all members of the group, and the focus will exist in fellowship and humanitarian service — like all rotary clubs before them. The group will work to find a shared passion and will see what needs attention in the community.

“It’s wherever 609 sees their focus,” said Koehler of the group’s mission. “We want to give them a chance to create their own identity and impact on the region and not necessarily be defined by an existing club or by what that club is doing.”

As of Thursday, 609 has 11 members — all young professionals in the area with different backgrounds in work experience including a banker, a chiropractor, a web designer, an educator, insurance agent, accountant, funeral director, museum director and more.

When speaking of the benefits that come with being part of a rotary club, Koehler said fellowship is a major aspect. He defined this fellowship as getting to know other people and working on projects that everybody feels passionately about to make a difference in the area.

There are three other rotary clubs in the Kankakee area. The Kankakee club was founded in 1915, Manteno in 1937 and Bradley-Bourbonnais in 1981. All three of these are lunchtime clubs, and 609 will be the first in the area to break from that model and will meet based on members’ schedules.

The Bradley-Bourbonnais club will be available to help get 609 up and running and will provide mentoring to the new members.

“But, the 609 is going to have its own life, its own heartbeat, its own pulse and identity, and we’re embracing that and saying, ‘Go for it!’”

Koehler invites those interested in participating to attend an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Northfield Square Mall Food Court or to visit rotary609.com for more information.