From handicap parking spaces to office cubicles, House of Neighborly Service volunteers are enjoying the perks of their new space at 1331 Jamie Lane in Waterloo.
“We’ve got our handicap space and our rent is the same amount of money. So this is really a no-brainer,” HNS office facilitator Jan Dudley said of the move.
HNS vice president Kelly Lerch added the new space puts them in the vicinity of the Monroe County Health Department and Illinois Secretary of State Driver Services facility.
The Monroe County Health Department and Monroe County Coroner’s Office are planning to move in to 1312 Jamie Lane behind Bobeck’s Sports Bar & Grill in the fall.
“We’re going to be part of a little networking place here. I think that’s a big plus for us,” Lerch noted.
Dudley added that HNS has the ability to meet people’s needs more efficiently. As a result of the move, HNS will have an on-site case manager from noon to 3 p.m. every day of the week.
“Because we are able to do intake interviews, we are much quicker and much more timely on getting services to folks who are in situations,” she explained. “The pyramid is growing.
“We continue to add office help, new volunteers, bring new blood, bring new ideas.”
Dudley is leading a cooking class at the new location called Healthy Chef, geared toward Human Support Services clients. She hosted the first class on Thursday.
Nutrition is one of the focuses of the 12-week sessions, with recipes to help with diabetes and other health issues.
“It’s already been a benefit there just to have a nice space they can come in,” Dudley said.
The move, which was completed last Tuesday, was prompted by the lease expiring at the old office next to Bean Tree Cafe. HNS used the space at 227B S. Main Street for a period of two years.
While in the main street location, HNS initiated such community projects as the Glass Slipper Ball for HSS clients and a concert series at The Falls to raise money for the organization.
HNS and the city of Waterloo also received the 2017 Outstanding Local Government Achievement Award. Last year, HNS started a free summer lunch program for children and will continue the service this summer.
“If anyone has questions, they can contact us,” Lerch said of Summer Lunch Bunch.
The program begins May 21 and ends Aug. 9. Lunches will be handed out at sites in Waterloo, Valmeyer and Prairie du Rocher.
This year, HNS is adding a healthy twist to the lunches with two servings of fruits or vegetables with every meal.
Another change to the program consists of HSS using Summer Lunch Bunch to provide job opportunities to clients.
According to Crawford, clients will be cooking and planning the menu to prepare for the opening of the Waterloo Bed and Breakfast at 4505 HH Road.
“They’re getting their creative ideas out there like, ‘Let’s not do this kind of thing all the time. Let’s throw a hot meal in there,’” she explained. “So they’re really a part of the planning where (Dudley’s) supervising but letting the Human Support people and the clients work on their own.”
Prior to the main street location, volunteers met at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Waterloo. HNS is currently in its third year as a non-profit.
In 2015, representatives of several area churches, organizations and schools pooled resources to address the needs of the area. The organization has since thrived over the years in providing a myriad of services to those in need.
“I think we’re doing pretty good considering. We’re still small and we’re all volunteers,” Crawford said.
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, HNS provides holiday food baskets to some 165 and 200 families, respectively.
An off-site emergency food pantry assists families who cannot access other food pantries in the area because of their jobs or other conflicts. Currently, HNS is in need of food items for its pantry, including pasta, cereals, soups, boxed dinners and more.
Lerch said she noticed when HNS started that organizations needed time to adjust to the change.
“I think at first people weren’t sure because they were nervous that we were trying to take over what they were doing already … So they were a little hesitant,” she remembered. “But now they see we’re calling them for help.
“We’re counting on everybody to do what they always did. And we’re finding where we fit in between.”
For the new location, HNS is asking the community to help stock its office with supplies, such as staplers, paper clips, binder clips, tape dispensers and tape, labels, yellow pads and the like.
Contact HNS’ helpline at 939-8680. To reach the office, call 939-8900.