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Posted on: July 13, 2023

Professional Volunteers Add To Respite Center Services

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Professional Volunteers Add To Respite Center Services

Meet two professionals who help make the Niles Township Respite Center even more useful to our home-insecure population though their compassionate volunteerism.

Chiropractor Katie Ray volunteers at the Respite Center once a week, providing anti-stress chiropractic care. Her services help people feel peaceful and whole and relaxed.

“It’s like a reprogramming,” she said. “To be able to share that with people who really need that is pretty gratifying.”

Katie moved her practice, New Day, to the Skokie area and wanted to contribute to the community right away. In offering her services at the Respite Center, she encourages those she treats to have their backs adjusted weekly to get the best results. 

“I want the clients of the Respite Center to have that opportunity for ongoing help and a relationship with me as their practitioner,” she said.

The feedback from Respite Center users has been only positive ever since Katie began there.

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Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Leah Brennan also volunteers weekly at the Respite Center, offering mental health care to those who use the center.

Leah has her own practice in Evanston for individuals, couples and families impacted by loved ones’ substance abuse disorders and addictions. A Lincolnwood resident, she began volunteering at the Respite Center in May and has been a valuable resource for those at the center who would like additional support.

Several Respite Center regulars see Leah regularly, she said, while others have had individual sessions that have proved helpful.

“If you’re at the Respite Center, you’re really glad this resource is here, but it’s not where you want to stay,” Leah said. “There’s a feeling of ‘whats next for me?’ I’m not surprised people want to talk and need support.”

Leah said she is “heartened” by how quickly those she sees at the Respite Center have come to trust her. Her commitment to being there weekly has helped form bonds. Many people talk to her about loneliness, disconnection, feeling unseen and unwanted — issues that the homeless face all the time.

“But also there is an incredible resiliency, humor and hopefulness,” she said.  “There is a lot of strength that I see.”

Most people in the general population do not come to therapy, but in the case of those without housing, it’s the last thing on their minds, Leah said. The value of having someone to talk to and to really understand the challenges they face means a lot.

“I think that human connection sends a message. I’m totally available to you on your terms and when you need me,” she said.

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