Clearbrook staff goes above and beyond for clients

  • The son of a Clearbrook employee plays his violin for residents of a local Community Integrated Living Arrangement home.

    The son of a Clearbrook employee plays his violin for residents of a local Community Integrated Living Arrangement home. Courtesy of Clearbrook

 
Submitted by Juliann Carlson
Updated 3/31/2020 1:39 PM

In a time when many are staying home, scared and unsure of how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out, direct service professionals for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities do not have that option.

Similar to health care professionals, grocery workers and first responders, direct service professionals report to work every day knowing there is a critical shortage of PPE and medical supplies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Clearbrook, a nonprofit based in Arlington Heights, serves more than 8,000 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 160 communities, 15 counties and 60 locations. They provide personalized vocational, home-based, community day, residential and clinical services across a range of disabilities, from birth to end of life.

Even with temporarily closing their community day services until April 15, the nonprofit is still responsible for 400-plus individuals in more than 60 homes.

Due to their unique needs, these individuals require staff with them at all times -- some even requiring 24-hour nursing support in Clearbrook's Intermediate Care Facilities.

Rather than complain, Clearbrook's employees have proved themselves to be everyday heroes, going above and beyond the call of duty.

"I've heard from others that their employees are not reacting positively to what is being asked of them, essential or not. That's not the case at Clearbrook. The tone here is very much 'how can I help?' no questions asked," said Tony Di Vittorio, president and CEO.

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"Staff from our community day services were reassigned to our residential locations, and all know that there is a chance that someone in their care could be diagnosed with COVID-19, which would mean isolation and round-the-clock care. I've never been more proud to be a part of Clearbrook," Di Vittorio said.

Thanks to their caring and selfless front line staff, there's only one way to describe Clearbrook -- strong.

"I am very grateful for my job. You have no idea how Clearbrook has changed my life in so many ways. Thank you for thinking of me," said one employee in response to being asked to work during the pandemic.

Other examples of these silent heroes going above and beyond include:

• An employee bringing her son to play his violin for the residents of a few Community Integrated Living Arrangement homes in their area. He played on the front lawn while the residents opened their windows.

• Planning a 30th birthday party -- complete with cake and decorated shirts -- for a resident at a Community Integrated Living Arrangement home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Delivering activity care packages to each home, as they can no longer attend community day services.

• Ordering pizzas for a few of the homes after the shelter-in-place was announced.

• Going for a walk around the neighborhood and "Corona Caroling" with an individual, complete with a ukulele.

• An employee bringing her dog to work to help the residents practice responsibility, while also brightening their spirits.

• Organizing a parade (in cars) past Clearbrook's homes and facilities with others from the organization's 900-plus employees.

• Sewing masks for fellow employees when they were not able to work.

• Decorating the houses for St. Patrick's Day and bringing fun accessories for the residents.

The truly amazing thing about all of this? It all happened in the span of a week or two. The response was immediate, heartwarming and awe inspiring.

These professionals are essential to the lives of others and often receive little recognition. Clearbrook, and similar agencies, could not operate without them.

So, to these silent heroes answering the call of duty, thank you. You are appreciated more than you know by Clearbrook and the families of the loved ones in your care.

For more information about Clearbrook, visit www.clearbrook.org or www.facebook.com/clearbrook.

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