Community House hires director of social impact
Last updated 3/2/2022 at 3:46pm | View PDF
Loren Williams joined The Community House as director of social impact late last year, but her work toward the organization's mission began more than a decade before.
As a volunteer with the Community Consolidated District 180 Saturday reading program and later as a part-time clinician at The Community House, Williams has shared the organization's goal to provide social services throughout Hinsdale and the surrounding communities.
When the search for a director of social impact began, Williams said she saw an opportunity to have a bigger impact in her quest to make mental health services available to everyone.
"When a community is under-resourced, it cannot thrive the way that it should," Williams said.
Although it's located just a couple of miles from Hinsdale and just blocks away from several wealthy neighborhoods, the community known as Willowbrook Corner in District 180 remains one of the area's most under resourced areas. It's also a major focus of Williams' job.
"A great foundation has already been laid there," Williams said.
Held at Anne M. Jeans school, the After the Bell after-school program offers help with homework, a social outlet and supervision for children whose parents are at work when the school day ends. Students have access to games, crafts and snacks as well as information about nutrition, exercise and the importance of mental health. Two therapy groups help students dealing with issues related to anger management and impulse control.
"We try to ensure that we support the children in a holistic way," Williams said.
Along with the programs already in place, an arts program for middle schoolers soon will be available. Middle schoolers will learn about African-American artists throughout history and enjoy opportunities to create art of their own.
"We're also bringing a basketball program to Willowbrook (Corner)," she said. Both boys and girls will have opportunities to play this summer, and talks are in the works to bring other sports to the neighborhood, as well.
Williams and The Community House team are also working to provide more support groups for the community.
"The pandemic has really taken a toll on a lot of peoples' mental health," she said.
To that end, and as supervisor of counseling services at The Community House, Williams said two counselors soon will be added to The Community House staff.
"There are exciting things going on," she said, including an opportunity for the community to help make these and other services of The Community House possible. The 15th annual Walk the Walk for Mental Health event is set for Sunday, May 15. It's intended to raise awareness, acceptance and money for mental health services.
Williams said her new role combines her work as a leader, mental health professional and community advocate.
"It just happened to fit with what my future plans were," she said. "It just seemed like a good fit."
Most importantly, she said, her new role gives her a chance to help others.
"I love to help. That's just who I am," she said.
- by Sandy Illian Bosch