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The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago have named The Village at Victory Lakes in Lindenhurst, Illinois, Franciscan Village in Lemont, Illinois, Marian Village in Homer Glen, Illinois, and St. Jude House in Crown Point, Indiana, as the recipients of its annual Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant. The purpose of the grant, established over 25 years ago, is to encourage advances in serving the poor, elderly, and needy, by providing seed money for outstanding initiatives.

Submissions were accepted from member organizations designed to increase the quality and quantity of programs and services offered within Franciscan Ministries, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. Additionally, the award encourages creative problem solving and encourages professionals to document, display, and share their successes with others in a spirit of caring.


Franciscan Sisters of Chicago Announce 2021
Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant Winners

This year the Theresa Dudzik Innovation Grant presentations were presented over Computer video Zoom calls because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 


Three of this year’s winners are senior living facilities. The first prize winner will receive $10,000 in seed money to develop its innovation which addresses those depression issues which afflict numerous elderly and have increased dramatically during the isolation of this COVID period. Two of the facilities joined together on an innovation addressing memory issues of their elderly residents. These facilities will share the second prize of $8,000 to implement their innovation to reawaken memories. The fourth facility is a shelter for victims of domestic violence and will receive $5,000 to carry out its innovation of mobile advocacy to find and help those victims for whom the COVID period of isolation has sadly increased the violence and abusive contact time of their significant other.

The Village at Victory Lakes is developing a program called, "iNSPIRE Health in a time of COVID: An iN2L initiative." This project will utilize the technology of It’s Never Too Late (iN2L) to engage the residents through group and one on one activities. With the iN2L tablet program, residents will be provided opportunities for engagement or game apps; enjoy looking at videos or photos of family; talk with a healthcare provider through the telehealth portal; and video chat with family and friends. This person-centered approach to engagement will decrease the depressing isolation effects of the pandemic.

Franciscan Village and Marian Village will be implementing a program called, "The Music in Me." It is an interactive music therapy program utilizing technology to enhance person-centered care. Research has shown that music therapy produces joy and light-heartedness when used consistently with those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Music provides a bridge for these memory-challenged residents to communicate and connect with others. The chosen music app in this innovation allows residents with memory loss and cognitive issues to express themselves and become more engaged with their environment. It also enables the caregivers to better understand and meet those residents’ needs.

St. Jude House is implementing "Taking It to the Streets," a two-fold evidence-based trauma-informed outreach approach to prioritize the comfort and convenience of survivors of domestic violence. (1) The program will offer digital (and eventually in-person) mobile-advocacy to victims of domestic violence. (2) The program will create heightened awareness to strategically targeted audiences at locations identified as places that abusers have historically “let” the abused visit without supervision. These locations include, but are not limited to: a) grocery/drug stores, b) laundromats, c) animal hospitals, d) churches, e) schools, f) libraries, g) utilities and/or home related services. But given the limitations COVID has created for face-to-face meetings, the mobile advocacy will initially use digital platforms such as Zoom and Facetime, while continuing to promote this and other programs/services via a more traditional brand awareness campaign using a) brochures, b) table/tent tactics, and 3) informational presentations, both in-person when possible and digitally. This awareness campaign will educate the community about 1) healthy relationships, 2) domestic violence red flags, and 3) how to respond and help victims.


Franciscan Village staff pose with their winning grant check: (From left) Jazmin Alfaro, Donna Stanley, Dan Bannon and Michele Tomich

Marian Village staff pose with their winning grant check: (From left) Linda McCluskey, Dan Bannon and Michele Tomich

Ryan Elinkowski, Director of St. Jude House and Buffy Adams, Director of Development, hold their grant check for their winning presentation.

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