Left to right, are Ken Bennet; Debbie Bretag, executive director Housing Options; Amy Tran, I-Work program coordinator; Cheryl Eisner, I-Work advisory committee; Randy Usen, chair I-Work advisory committee; Terry Prange; Beth Flores, I-Work advisory committee; Matthew McFarland, I-Work director of workforce development; and Alderman Peter Braithwaite.

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Housing Options sponsored an employer appreciation luncheon to thank employers who have hired persons with a mental illness and assisted them in rebuilding their lives by providing them with a sense of purpose, greater self-esteem, and personal growth and independence.

Guest speaker Ken Bennett, Region V Representative for the U.S. Department of Labor, said Housing Options is doing an incredible job by providing housing in a safe environment for persons with
a mental illness. The other part, he said, is assisting them in getting jobs “where they feel they are contributing back to society, where they are counted on, and where they have colleagues and develop relationships.” He told employers in the audience, “Sometimes people think you’re just giving people a job. You’re saving a life.”

Terry Prange, manager of Office Depot on Green Bay Road in Evanston and a member of Housing Options I-Work advisory committee, said everyone has someone in their family who needs help. “Take that risk. Give people a chance,” he said. Giving someone a job can transform their lives. “We are doing good work. We just have to get out there and do more.”

The luncheon took place on June 25 at Chicken and Waffles on Dempster Street.