Dear Search Team, Family Members, Guardians, and Stakeholders:

It's been a while…

Hello from all of us at Search! We hope you have an enjoyable and safe July 4th weekend. It’s been a month since we’ve sent out an update, so we thought now would be a good opportunity to catch you up on everything Search before you jump into the weekend.  

Since our last update, Search has had one new case of COVID-19 throughout our entire team of staff members and residents. This is a positive sign given that we have returned all of our homes back to shift staff models over the past four weeks. Although having staff members coming and going from houses certainly increases risk, we will continue to monitor the health and safety of everyone at Search closely.
Day Services Updates

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently notified us that all Community Day Services (CDS) programs will remain closed through August 31. Instead, as of July 1, 2020, IDHS will fund day supports in the home setting for all individuals receiving residential services.   

Search CDS programs, which served over 400 individuals daily prior to the pandemic, have been closed since mid-March. For the past 3 months we have been providing day supports to Search residents’ at-home, engaging individuals in structured activities and via the use of remote technology. In the coming weeks, we will resume limited community outings with enhanced safety precautions in place.    

As we await further guidance from IDHS, we’re heavily involved in planning for the day when we can resume this important aspect of our services safely. We will share more information regarding our day services as it becomes available. 

In the meantime, we have circulated an email survey to all families with CDS participants who are not Search residents, as well as our partner organizations, asking for some input to guide our planning efforts to reopen CDS.  Please complete this survey if you have not already and provide the critical feedback we need.  If you did not receive the survey and believe you should have please contact Nick Larson at nlarson@search-inc.org .
Supported Living Updates

With the State of Illinois entering phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, we want to take this opportunity to share a new visitation protocol that allows visits to our homes with limitations. This ends the no-visitation policy that Search enacted in March for the safety of everyone amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  Thank you for your patience the past several months. We know you’ve missed your loved one.

As you are aware, Search went to great lengths to reduce the chance of COVID-19 exposure for the individuals we serve. Beginning in late March, we were able to facilitate live-in staff at 27 of our 29 homes. These selfless staff members remained in the homes for many weeks without leaving or seeing family to ensure the safety of all of us here at Search.  As mentioned, we have now phased shift staff back into our homes and are doing our best to mitigate risk.  We know families are eager to spend time with their loved ones and we want to facilitate visits as best as we can.  The following guidelines are required for visits to Search sites, effective July 1, 2020:

  • All visits will be outside of the home - visitors are not allowed to enter the home.
  • Visitors must notify the Coordinator of the home to schedule the visit to ensure only one visiting group is present at a time.
  • Visitors must wear a mask at all times and maintain the proper social distancing of 6 feet at all times.  Unfortunately, this means no physical contact is allowed at this time.
  • When arriving for your visit, your temperature will be taken outdoors to ensure there is no fever of 100.4 or higher and you will be asked if you have any COVID-19 symptoms currently. See a list of symptoms here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
  • Homes where individuals are experiencing active COVID-19 symptoms will not be able to have visitors for the duration that symptoms last.
Remote Learning and Experiences

We know how serious this pandemic is which explains the slight pangs of guilt we have on occasion about how much fun we’ve been having during our Zoom workshops, lately. In the last few weeks, we hosted a talent show, studied the civil rights movement (both nationally and on a local level) and have been enjoying Augie’s adventures in “Wonder” during our weekly book club. But step aside, HGTV, we have a winner!

On Thursday, June 30th we relished our first ever Hot Dog Challenge of the 2020 Pandemic and it was epic. Seventeen homes participated in a 90 minute zoom during which each presented a unique hot dog recipe – live and in real time! The only rule was that it had to be assembled by the residents on camera. No two recipes were the same, and we can honestly say that unless you were vegetarian you’d be more than happy to try 95% of what was shared. In the end, our New England house was Top Dog (see what we did, there?) as they used the franks to build a 3D house, complete with a neatly manicured green lawn of relish! (You may not have been so eager, however, to sample the entry that won the “hot dog most likely to be served at a low budget high school reunion picnic” and let’s just leave it at that…)
Employee Appreciation Day

Last Friday on June 26 we held our annual Employee Appreciation Day. This year our celebration was a little different due to ongoing group size restrictions. We set up a drive-through even in the parking lot of our Mt. Prospect site! Throughout the day staff rolled up in their cars, stopping at tents for swag,  karaoke (or as we called it, Car-aoke), and ice cream - all from their cars! This year, we were especially thankful for the way our entire team stepped up to keep the individuals we serve safe, happy and healthy during this unprecedented time. Thank you to every member of our incredible team!
Planet Access Store Reopening

We are thrilled to announce that Planet Access , formally known as Planet Access Company Store, has reopened for business! The original grand re-opening was set for early April, but due to COVID-19, the plans were pushed back to June.  That said, we are back and better than ever as an official Toad & Co partner store.. To shop in-store, customers are required to wear masks and only 8 customers are allowed in-store at a time. We’ve also enhanced our cleaning and sanitation protocols to ensure a safe, enjoyable shopping experience.

We’ve also launched our first e-commerce store, which allows our supporters and customers to shop their favorite pieces with the option to pick-up in Lincoln Square or have their purchase shipped direct to their doorstep with a flat-rate fee. Categories, such as clothing, home goods, and accessories, will allow customers to find products for every occasion, making our “new normal” that much better.

Visit our online shop here . Or visit our brick and mortar shop at 4727 N Lincoln Ave in Lincoln Square. We’re open Wednesday-Friday 12pm-7pm / Saturday-Sunday 10am-6pm.

Planet Access relaunched as a partner store of Toad&Co , based in California. We have deepened our partnership with Toad&Co to achieve better outcomes for the individuals we serve. Focusing on our mission, this partnership allows Search Inc. to fund our critical programs and provide superior experiences for the individuals we serve.

Every purchase you make at Planet Access helps open doors to community life for people with disabilities. For over 20 years, Toad&Co + Search Inc. have partnered to create opportunities for people with disabilities to live inclusive lives within communities where they are accepted, valued and able to contribute as equals. 100% of the proceeds from the store go to support our critical services for individuals with disabilities.
Pand-Epic Birthday Shout Outs!

Send a Pand-Epic Birthday Shoutout!  We're asking our Search Community to help us celebrate individuals with birthdays in July!

This is how it works -       simply choose a name from the list below, and mail them a card to      625 Slawin Ct, Mt Prospect, IL 60056       . Be sure to include the person’s name you have chosen on the envelope. Let’s make their day special! 
Thank you to everyone who continues to stay connected with Search. We truly appreciate the support. Stay healthy, be well and keep in touch!

All the best!
 
Cory Gumm
CEO
Search Inc.