The Artist in All: A Gift from the Siblings
by Kelly Burgess Mayer
The Misericordia SIBS were thrilled to return to an in-person Artist in All event! On Wednesday, November 16, 1000 artists, family and friends gathered at the Modern Wing of the Art Institute to celebrate our residential artists. Guests bid on artwork, noshed on delicious snacks and enjoyed being together with our Mis family.
Chairs Sheila Canavan, Colleen Cirulo and Kathleen Davy gracefully guided us back to the in-person event. The evening broke fundraising records: we ended the evening with $1.2 million (before expenses). The auction proceeds for the residential artwork was up $26,000 from our previous high. Guests were so excited to bid on our siblings’ artwork in person, once again!
Thanks to all the Misericordia staff for their hard work, especially Lois, Julie, Anne and the art instructors. You make our residents shine! Shout out to Mike McDonogh and Earle Atwarter who always make sure the artwork arrives safely at the Art Institute.
Upward and Onward in the Ravenswood Bakery and Cafe Building
By Kathryn Moery
Those two magnificent floors in the building above the new Misericordia Hearts & Flour Bakery and Café invite the curious eye upward from street level. These floors house the Ravenswood programs, which include the art studio for Misericordia residents, and coffee production, creating more opportunities for competitive employment in the community. Visiting the building with Michael Diaz, Administrator of Employment Services and Community Day Services, and Charles Carper, supervisor of the coffee packaging program, we talked and toured the upper floors of this incredible site to see what is happening, and to learn what the future holds.
The second-floor art studio enjoys panoramic terrace views. On any given day, six to eight residents will find inspiration for creating their Artist in All works under the guidance of Allison Slak, a painter and jewelry-maker in her own right. The views outside on the terrace may activate the creative juices and rhythms to flow, but Allison also integrates chair yoga outdoors on the terrace to encourage spirituality and sensory stimulation. On our recent visit, we encountered colorfully masterful renderings of ’57 Chevies, the greens of a peaceful golf course, and the leaves of a tree bursting forth with color as the artist worked. These artists will receive fifty per cent of the proceeds of the sale of their art, closely comparable to private art sales by artists in the community at-large.
Hugh Connolly - Mastermind behind new construction at Misericordia
by Ann Wilson
Many of us enjoy Misericordia’s beautiful, leafy campus, with its modern brick buildings, impeccable landscaping and a happy, positive vibe. The campus we know today was the vision of Sister Rosemary Connelly. With the help of her brother-in-law, Bob Connolly, then several decades later, her nephew, Hugh, she spearheaded a slow, steady improvement plan that began in the 1970s and continues today.
In March 1976, 39 children moved to Misericordia North from their south side location, and the campus was in general disrepair. Bob Connolly was the first person to work at the site. Prior to his arrival, it had been the vacant location of the former Angel Guardian Orphanage. Bob spent the first two years readying the stage for the campus we know today. He successfully oversaw the rezoning of the entire property to a Planned Unit Development which allowed Misericordia to legally build and operate a multitude of dwellings. Bob created a master plan; he tore down approximately 80% of the old buildings that could not easily be made to meet the new life safety codes and renovated those that could be repurposed. He installed all of the site utilities and infrastructure that Misericordia currently uses to support both the renovated buildings, as well as the newly-built buildings. Additionally, Bob had overseen the physical planning and physical development of Misericordia‘s campus for 30+ years. He was also responsible for the development of each of the off-campus CILAs, often searching for, and finding them, himself.
The Role of Technology in Transforming Resident Care at Misericordia
by Ann Wilson
Every organization faces technology challenges, whether it’s upgrading their network system, increasing security protocols or implementing programs that collect and organize data for various purposes. Several years ago, the administration team conducted an in-depth technology assessment that highlighted some technology challenges, leading the team to create an IT leadership role. Several months and many interviews later, Scott Thompson was hired as the CIO of Misericordia.
Thompson originally heard of a position from his Edgewater neighbor whose daughter is a resident at Misericordia. A graduate of Purdue with a degree in Electrical Engineering, followed by a Masters of Information Technology from Northwestern University, he has worked in several industries including satellites for Hughes Aircraft, web applications for Cision and industrial machines for Continental.
Sister Rosemary's Drive-thru Opens!
by Kathryn and John Moery
With overflowing anticipation and wide-eyed wonder, we entered the magnificent Misericordia Hearts and Flour Bakery and Cafe at 6130 North Ravenswood under its banner 'Welcome’ sign. On our way in, we were warmly greeted outside by four newly-hired baristas, Ken, Bekah, Dylan and Connor, who offered us a cup of the featured Collectivo coffees – Blue Heeler or Toro Blend Espresso – a brochure with a menu of all that awaits inside, and a $1.00 off coupon for our next visit. Until its opening on April 26, these ambassadors will be relocating to various sites throughout the neighborhood to herald the opening of this great new asset to the community. Sitting on the former site of a run-down strip mall, this pearl of a place provides community-based employment for 10 Misericordia residents. Flowing from their current campus locations, the upper floors of this architectural beauty will soon house an Art Studio overlooking the expansive second-floor outer terrace and a new coffee packaging facility on the third floor.
How Misericordia Uses Coaching to Support and Develop Staff
by Ann Wilson
Mary Ann Goode has been a Mis employee, on and off, for the last 24 years. Initially a DSP, she then became a supervisor and director. Following that, she took off seventeen years to raise her four kids. A dedicated runner and tennis enthusiast, she also makes a mean fruit pie, brownie and cookie. (Watch out block club bakers!)
Mary Ann has now returned to Misericordia as the leader of PHI and Fit For Success, training initiatives that focus on professional development, team-building and effective communications among staff In residential departments, Therapy, Social Services, and Recreation and Leisure.
Meet the Building Operations Director, John Tortorello
by Ann Wilson
Any property owner knows that toilets leak, lawns need mowing and, in our Chicago climate, snow must be cleared. Misericordia’s campus is no exception to that rule.
John Tortorello, Misericordia’s Building Operations Director, is there to make things on both the inside and outside of Misericordia run smoothly. Since 2003, John has been employed as Misericordia’s Building Operations Director, but he worked as a contractor at Misericordia for several years prior to that. A journeyman carpenter since 1984, John has varied work experience from new construction, reconfiguration and remodeling. This has provided him with a wealth of knowledge from which he draws almost daily. John says, “Everyday at Mis is a learning experience, as change across the campus is a constant. Working at Mis for twelve years prior to my direct employment allowed me to gain additional knowledge of fire and life safety codes, as well as IDPH regulations particular to Misericordia.” To keep all operations running smoothly, John has a variety of direct reports across a wide variety of trades and sub-contractors.
Coping with Covid
by Kathryn Moery
A number of parents attending a recent meeting asked for some guidance on how to help their children handle the changes that the coronavirus has brought.
Geana Connelly, Administrator of Clinical Services and Strategic Planning, shared her insights on how the residents and the campus has responded and adjusted in this time of covid. Overall, the residents have shown amazing resilience. Access to the campus environment and services, reduced feelings of isolation. The continuity of their connectedness to our Misericordia community and their families was an important factor throughout Covid even though it looked different at times. Residents and families learned to use technology in the absence of face to face visits. They adjusted and adapted to what was in front of them at the time. While the residents are back to experiencing home visits again, many residents and families still look forward to their family zoom time as a way to catch up regularly. In addition to using technology to connect with their families, the residents have also had opportunities to connect virtually with their friends across campus which has been an important factor for our residents. Today, the virtual platform, Staying Connected continues to be offered weekly and is a resource many of the residents look forward to.
What do Q’s really do?
by Ann Wilson
Each of Misericordia’s one thousand employees plays a critical role in helping the residents live healthy, fulfilling lives. To name a few: cooks, housekeepers, the bakery staff, coffee packagers, nurses. But the role of the Q (short for Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional, or QIDP) is akin to the conductor of an orchestra. She/he coordinates all of the behind-the-scenes activities to oversee the care of the residents in their charge.
I interviewed two Q’s for this article. Jessica Disbrow is a Q in Marion Center, apartment 205, where she manages nine ladies. Jessica happens to be my daughter’s Q. Jae Shin is the Q at Baumgarten House, a group home in Chicago, where five young men live.
Misericordia Direct Care Staff: The Real Heroes
by Linda Buchalo
Misericordia is a beautiful campus with many wonderful amenities, but those with a family member at Misericordia know that the quality of staff is what sets it apart from similar organizations. While staff at every level are compassionate and creative, personal direct care staff are a truly amazing group who bring warmth, understanding, and empathy to the residents. They work round-the-clock to ensure that our family members are well cared for.
Both Direct Service Professionals (DSPs) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) provide personal care depending on the residence and level of need. Their jobs often take on multiple roles: mentors, motivators, educators, tour guides, chaperones, friends, and more. Their work includes helping with grooming, mealtime, therapy plans, program plans, and recreation, all while helping residents to learn, communicate, and become more independent.
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