On the corner of 107th and Longwood Drive sits a small school with a very big mission. The Beacon Therapeutic Center that serves Chicagoans today had its roots in a small group of concerned parents who, unable to get the services their children needed in their home schools, founded an organization that offered their children necessary skills, support and education.
Today, the Beacon elementary day school serves 121 students, age 5 to 12, who have severe emotional or behavior disorders, explained Peggy Rourke, Director of Development for Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic & Treatment Center. The Beacon umbrella includes the day school in Beverly/Morgan Park as well as junior and senior high school in Calumet Park and homeless outreach services based at 117th and Western. All of Beacon’s programs are open to families throughout Chicago.
According to Rourke, the children enrolled at the day school receive highly individualized and specialized services that can include occupational and speech therapy, psychological and psychiatric services, and social work. The goal is to help each child reach his or her full potential for academic achievement and life skills, and to return students to their home schools. Support services are offered to the entire family.
Locating the day school in the heart of a residential community is a blessing, according to Rourke. The students respond to the less formal school setting, and enjoy the spacious grounds that include a new playground in the back and the front yard hill that’s so popular for sledding in the winter.
At the junior high/high school, students also receive academic instruction and individualized services, plus athletics, technology programs and a job training/placement program.
Partnering with a variety of agencies, Beacon’s homeless outreach program serves woman and children throughout the city, providing assistance that ranges from mental health and medical treatment to helping women transition into independent living.
“The women often need job training and education, as well a wraparound services that will help them be successful when they are on their own,” Rourke said. From coming back from the trauma of homelessness to mastering how to learning how to stick to a budget and maintain home, Beacon helps families make a fresh start and follows up to make sure they can maintain self-sufficiency.
Beacon’s programs are supported by state and local funds, grants, donations and fundraisers, such as the 24th annual Holiday Supper on Fri., Dec. 2. “The community embraces our mission and supports us generously,” Rourke said, citing the Holiday Supper event as a perfect example. In its early years, neighbors hosted the suppers in their homes then guests from all of the locations would meet at Beacon for caroling and hot chocolate. Now, the event is held at the school which is transformed to accommodate a catered dinner, silent auction, entertainment and carriage rides through the community.
If you missed your chance to support Beacon Center at the Holiday Supper, you can make a donation to the organization at any time. “No gift is too small,” Rourke said.
Organizations and individuals can also support Beacon’s services by holding book or coat drives, or donating gift cards, bus passes, school supplies and household supplies that are needed for the homeless outreach program.
Recent funding cutbacks make these gifts more important than ever, Rourke said.
For more information about Beacon Therapeutic and Diagnostic Center programs and services or to learn more about how you can support its mission, contact Rourke at 773-881-1005.