By Mitch Hurst
By Mitch Hurst
The mission of Family Service of Glencoe (FSG) is as important as ever. Many health care professionals believe we’re experiencing a collective mental health crisis—an epidemic, even—and for more than 100 years FSG has been there to tend to the mental and emotional health needs of residents of Glencoe and beyond.
“Our mission is to promote a stronger community by meeting individual and family needs. We do that through services that identify, prevent, and resolve social emotional problems,” says Amber Bond, FSG’s executive director. “We have a variety of services that we provide, and we’re rooted in the village of Glencoe and serve the surrounding community as well.”
FSG provides high quality, comprehensive mental health and social service work to anyone who needs it, Bond says, and the organization has made concerted efforts to make its services affordable.
“Our biggest single piece of work is our clinical outpatient, clinical mental health counseling, and we take a wide variety of insurances to make it as accessible as possible,” says Bond. “We have a sliding fee that is offered to residents of the township, and anyone impacted by the Fourth of July shooting.”
Bond says there’s a perception of wealth on the North Shore, and while that perception is accurate, there are also those who are experiencing food insecurity, housing insecurity, are uninsured or under-insured, and are very low income. It’s not something that people stand up and shout about when they’re experiencing difficult times.
“It’s important that FSG be ready to serve people who have lots of means and people who don’t,” she says. “We want to be perceived as a service for the whole community, not just the haves or the have nots. We want to serve everyone. And we do.”
FSG was founded in Glencoe and its board members are all Glencoe residents or business owners. The organization maintains strong relationships with the community leadership in Glencoe, the Park District, School District Library, Public Safety, and the village manager. But its mission is broader than just Glencoe.
“Communities are permeable. Residents of Glencoe are patrons of businesses in Highland Park. Highland Park residents are teachers at the schools in Glencoe,” she says. “Many of our seniors struggle to stay in Glencoe when they’re done raising their families and end up moving into surrounding communities but maintain deep ties to the village of Glencoe.”
Over the 100 plus-years FSG has been in service, it has developed a service area that has become much broader than just the village of Glencoe, so its service footprint has grown.
“We have people coming to us from the city, we have folks coming to us from the far north, actually from Southern Wisconsin,” Bond says. “We have a few clients because they have some kind of tie either to the specific service that we offer or they have family, friends, a history, or maybe a workplace that is in our community.”
This expansion over the years is why the upcoming “Glencoe Under the Stars” fundraiser continues to be a critical opportunity for FSG to meet the growing needs of the community, says Karen Rogatz, FSG’s Benefit Chairperson.
“It’s our annual spring event, our biggest benefit and the largest fundraising campaign for the year,” Rogatz explains. “We bring in approximately 25 percent of our operating budget and all those dollars go to bridge the gap between the full value of counseling sessions and the rates that we charge on a sliding scale.”
This year’s event will be held on the patio at Northmoor Country Club in Highland Park and will feature dinner, dancing, and music, It will be a cocktail-style party with appetizers and various food stations. There will also be a silent auction—items for which will be posted to the organization’s website two weeks prior to the event.
“This is how we get the funds to pay the therapists, which we’re growing more and more, every month,” Rogatz says.
Bond says coming out of the pandemic was tough. The transition to telehealth had been hard. When she started her time at FSG in June 2021, there was one full-time clinician, a couple of part timers, and Bond herself. Since then, FSG has added two more full-time positions. A third full-time therapist will be starting in May.
“The need is something that we have never seen before in the community. We are committed to not having a wait list,” Bond says. “Some of the bigger organizations out there have sixmonth waits or longer and want to keep ours to two to four weeks, tops. That means we need to continue to hire and the only way we’re able to do that is through this kind of fundraising event that underwrites the cost of services.”
One key partnership FSG maintains is with the Village of Glencoe Public Safety Department. It’s an example how FSG’s relationships with the village can benefit residents. When a call comes into the department that involves a mental health issue, FSG therapists can accompany the officer to the site of the disturbance.
“The partnership that we have with public safety is really nice and what drew me to be on the board, along with partnerships with other community members,” Fogartz adds.
“We have all gone through the collective trauma of the pandemic and then we’re adding the local trauma to the North Shore from last year,” Bond says. “I think people are willing to say that they’re struggling in a way that they might not have been willing to say before because everyone is struggling. We want people to reach out to support our friends and family members.”
Individual tickets for “Glencoe Under the Stars” are $250, $350 for VIP, and can be purchased at familyserviceofglencoe.org. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.