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You Can Fuel the Future

As happened to our ancestors who won the historic Chanukah victory, we have triumphed again through a challenging time – thanks to you, Libenu’s supporters. We have kept the lights on, continued to serve the community, and added new programs for residents, respite clients, and families. With your help, 2022 will bring even greater wonders, as we forge new paths for inclusivity, dignity, and growth. Please continue to give generously to ensure that adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities enjoy meaningful, fulfilling Jewish lives. Whether you’d like to endow a residence or fund a fuel bill, your gift today will make ours a better, more inclusive community.

Lev Respite: A Hope-Filled Update

In November, Libenu launched a Shabbat program for children and teens with intellectual/developmental disabilities. The first of its kind in the Midwest, Lev Lilah offers a new opportunity for independence: a Shabbaton staffed by carefully trained volunteers and professionals and tailored to the specific needs of each participant. The program extends from two hours before Shabbat through two hours after Shabbat. Along with rituals, individualized care, and engaging activities, Lev Lilah is designed to foster socialization, communication, and independent living skills.

Students from local Jewish high schools bring their burgeoning leadership skills, affection, and ruach as they guide small groups of participants through Shabbat preparation, bedtime, games, and other highlights. Libenu is partnering with the Chicago Mitzvah Campaign to ensure that meals are delicious, nutritious, and affordable.

Lev Lilah is also a respite program. Participants’ families experience a different kind of Shabbat in their own households: for some, it is a chance to focus on other children; for others, it means a more restful night; for all, it is a day to recharge so that they can return to the usual patterns of parenthood with even more energy and patience.

These mini-vacations take place at Libenu’s new space, a private house in Peterson Park, which has been decorated and outfitted to keep everyone safe and comfortable during their special time away from their routine.

Bowling Us Over

Libenu residents’ perseverance “strikes” again, as they continue to discover new abilities, explore new means of creative expression, and try out new recreational activities. Art, music, and drama therapy remain favorites, and lately almost all of the men and women have joined the Libenu bowling league.

“They’re actually amazing bowlers,” reflects Dina Baker, Libenu’s new chief program officer. “It’s a skill they didn’t know they had.”

After bowling, the league bands together for lunch at a local kosher restaurant, where they further build bonds and community.

“It’s the highlight of their week,” Dina adds. “They love the outing. They call me every week to make sure they’re going on Thursday!”


Help Us Help You

How does Libenu know what the community needs?

We listen. We observe. And we ask. Since its establishment in 2010, Libenu has been creating programs, services, and facilities to fill critical voids in order to make sure that children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities are able to grow into full members of the community. We do this through direct work with participants as well as by supporting families, who often are overwhelmed by nonstop hurdles and responsibilities.

A 2011 report reinforced the need to find ways to help families, and the pandemic has heightened the urgency and magnitude of these findings. Research showed that “58% of parents who have a child with a disability spend more than 40 hours per week providing support to that child; 40% of parents report spending more than 80 hours. Of those parents, 46% report that the care they provide is more than they can handle; 88% of parents report physical fatigue related to the care they provide; and 81% reported emotional stress, upset, and guilt.” (Source: The Arc, 2011. Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain: A Report on Family and Individual Needs for Disability Supports)

Please complete Libenu’s anonymous survey (click here), cosponsored by No Shame On U, about the needs of family caregivers of children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or mental health conditions.

Libenu wants to continue to support you. Please help us ensure that our next steps are toward services that will impact your lives in the most beneficial ways possible.

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