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updated: 5/26/2011 5:21 PM

Lombard contracts with Aurora counseling agency

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Lombard Fire Department will be able to refer its "repeat customers" to an Aurora-based social services agency beginning June 1 for counseling and help with emotional and psychological needs.

Under a $25,000 contract the Lombard village board approved May 19, Association for Individual Development will accept referrals from village staff and provide the necessary counseling or point residents in the right direction to find help.

Lombard Fire Chief Mike Torrence said he thinks his department will refer a few wheelchair-bound residents who call an ambulance several times a month for help getting in and out of their homes to the social services agency.

"I think it's something we really need assistance in," Torrence said. "I'm hoping they open some doors for us there to assist with some people."

Joann Furnas, director of crisis services for Association for Individual Development, said her agency's staff can provide counseling, advocacy, education and intervention in any situation that causes stress for an individual or a family.

The organization already offers the same victim services program Lombard will begin using to Aurora, Batavia and North Aurora as well as the Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, Furnas said.

"It's to help somebody when they've experienced a crisis or a traumatic experience," she said.

Furnas said the association's staff most often assists people who are grieving after a death, whether the death was accidental, suicidal, unexpected or natural.

Once the contract goes into effect, Furnace said Association for Individual Development staff will meet with police and fire officials as well as other Lombard staff to discuss how to refer residents who need counseling or assistance.

"I always tell them if they have the slightest inclination that 'This family can use extra help,' that's a referral to victim services," Furnas said.

Lombard approved the idea of hiring a social services firm in December and approved $28,000 for the program when the 2011-12 budget passed in April. The $25,000 contract is $3,000 less than the budgeted amount.