Dear Friend of Stepping Stones,
...As you can imagine, it has been another busy and challenging year for all of us here and one that has included the need to continue following COVID- 19 protocols due to the virus hanging around much longer than we all had hoped it would, difficulties faced in hiring staff in an ever changing workforce and feeling frustrated that our service capacity simply cannot keep up with the demands of our community.
Despite the many issues we've faced this year, I am proud to bring you news that Stepping Stones has also made several significant advancements during 2021. These were in line with our board's strategic plan to diversify our sources of funding and expand services to meet the growing need for mental health care in our community.
As you recall, in 2020, 43,723 voters in Winnebago County (62% of all votes cast) approved a one-half cent sales tax to fund mental health and substance use services. This created a steady source of local funding for these services for the first time and I would like to again thank those who worked to accomplish this and everyone who voted for the referendum. This year the Winnebago County Community Mental Health Board awarded several grants from the revenues generated by this sales tax, including one to Stepping Stones to open a new outpatient counseling center to serve Medicaid eligible adults with serious mental illnesses and children (beginning at age six) and adolescents with severe emotional disturbances. I am a proponent of choice and very compassionate about helping children, so it warms my heart that we are now able to serve families with young children and adolescents. Please help us spread the word about these services to anyone who can benefit from our care.
Additionally, we took a leap of faith and for the first time applied for a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant. These are very competitive national grants and, to our surprise, we were the only organization in northwest Illinois to receive a two-year Community Mental Health Grant Program award. This funding will be used to remove service gaps and meet the increased mental health needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I believe this new funding reflects not only the high need for mental health services here in our community but also recognizes the strength of our organization and our proven record of providing caring and effective mental health services.
I know that our continued success and progress is due, in part, to your support. Despite the significant increase in grant income we received this year, let me assure you that I take the greatest delight in seeing the individuals we serve make progress in their recovery and opening an envelope that includes your thoughtful gift. Your compassion for those we serve is appreciated.
As you stop to count your blessings at this time of year and reflect on what truly matters in our community, I hope you will include Stepping Stones on that list and show your support of our organization by making a donation today. Your financial support will help us continue to be here to provide the essential housing and life-saving mental health services each person in our program receives in order to live as independently and successfully as possible.
Together, with your financial support, we will continue to be here to serve adults, and now children and adolescents, who are in need of mental health services. We count on receiving your support at this time of the year and I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, I wish you and your family, a safe and meaningful holiday season together.
With continued gratitude, Susan Schroeder, LCSW, CEO
P.S. How much of a difference does your support make? Here's what it means to one individual in our program who wrote on her satisfaction survey, "I am grateful to Stepping Stones, the program saved my life."
I value the essential role Stepping Stones plays in our community! Please use my gift to help the individuals you serve improve their lives one step at a time. The easiest way to donate is on-line via our website page (https://steppingstonesrockford.org). Just click on the DONATE button. If you prefer using a check, please make your check payable to: Stepping Stones of Rockford, 706 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois 61103. Thank you!
Stepping Stones is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Pictured: Our new counseling center on Maray Drive.