EFFINGHAM — Community organization Impact 2030’s largest crowd for a Lunch and Learn event listened to five presentations Thursday from a variety of not-for-profit organizations across the county. The event also gave attendees a chance to network with the groups at the Suzette Brumleve Effingham Public Library.

Impact 2030 committee member Chelle Beck said the purpose of events like Thursday’s Lunch and Learn is to build a strong community through people and organizations that work together.

“That’s really the overall purpose of the lunch and learns is to help everybody make connections to make all of our organizations stronger because, in the end, it makes our community stronger,” Beck said. “While one organization may be strong on its own, we’re stronger when we work together.”

One of the newest organizations to Effingham County is Recovery Oriented Systems of Care, or ROSC. Recovery Outreach coordinator with the addiction recovery and assistance program, Jenna Hays, said the program covers four other counties in addition to Effingham County: Coles, Cumberland, Douglas and Shelby counties.

Hays said it was thanks to those with the Effingham County Problem-Solving Court that the ROSC program was brought to Effingham County.

“Effingham was not originally on our grant. Some people from drug court and some people from your recovery community came to me, heard we had this and said we need this in Effingham County,” Hays said.

Hays said the organization not only helps those with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions but also assists the children and families of addicts. She said that since the program came to Effingham County, the number of clients from the county has increased by 70 percent.

Meanwhile, attendees also heard from CASA of Effingham County Executive Director Jesse Patnaude and 100+ Women Who Care of Effingham County Co-Chair Melissa Willenborg about their respective organizations. Patnaude and Willenborg both said their organizations would benefit from more volunteers and members.

Patnaude said the court advocate program is helping more children than ever in the county, so more volunteers are necessary. Right now, CASA services 96 of the 105 children who are in foster care within the county.

“That number is very high. Usually we serve around 60 kids a year and we’re already up to 90 just at the end of August,” Patnaude said. “We’re in need of volunteers so that we can serve 100 percent in our county. We used to serve 100 percent until we had this increase in the past couple of years.”

As for 100+ Women Who Care, Willenborg said that an increased membership in the philanthropy organization would mean the group could give more money to not-for-profits in the county. She said their goal is to reach 200 members.

Willenborg said the group has reached a milestone of giving back in its three years in existence.

“In three years, we’ve given back $100,000 to this community. This year, we are at $144,000,” Willenborg said.

Another group focused on giving back to the community was also represented at Thursday’s event. Fiscal Manager Cindy Hardiek represented Senior Services of Effingham County ECCOA.

Hardiek said the senior citizen-minded organization expects to aid more seniors than ever before in Effingham County.

“Our Effingham team ... has helped over 2,000 people just last year alone out of Effingham County residents. We’re expecting that number to only increase because so many more Baby Boomers are becoming eligible for our senior programs,” Hardiek said.

Among the variety of ways Senior Services aids seniors in the county are senior advocacy programs, financial and insurance assistance and one of their newest programs, Savvy Senior. Hardiek said Savvy Senior is aimed at helping to educate the older population about scams and to keep them safe from scammers.

Hardiek said the senior-centered organization would like to see the community be the “eyes and ears” for seniors by coming to Senior Services with concerns or suggestions for programs for the organization’s clients.

“We need to keep our community strong. It’s not just about what we’re doing for our youth and for our economy and all that. We’ve got to make sure that our children see us taking care of the older generation,” Hardiek said.

Effingham Recycles team member Joanna Davies also spoke about the recycling efforts within the county. Like with the other programs slated for Thursday’s event, Davies discussed the importance of educating the public about certain topics like recycling, senior care and youth programs.

The next Impact 2030 Lunch and Learn is Jan. 16 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Effingham Public Library.

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at kaitlin.cordes@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 132.


Kaitlin Cordes covers Effingham County, police and courts and sports features for the Effingham Daily News. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University. Cordes is a native of Effingham.

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