AWAKENINGS PROJECT

Rating: 4.92 stars   38 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture, Mental Health, Health

Location: P.O. Box 177 Wheaton IL 60187 USA

Mission: The group's mission is to assist persons with mental health issues in developing their craft and finding an outlet for their creative abilities through art in all forms. The Awakenings Project also works in another direction: to seek to raise public acceptance and awareness of the creative talents of people living with psychiatric disorders who work in the fields of fine art, music, literature and drama. As writers and artists in recovery, for over a decade, we at Awakenings have basked in this activity, and feel sure the public will continue to better surmise the creative capacity and endowment of persons living with mental health issues. The Awakenings Project has succeeded. Awakenings has been a grass-roots initiative. It shows that mental health consumers can become producers of extraordinary art exhibits, can publish an internationally acclaimed literary arts journal, can support music and theatrical events. Our work has not gone unnoticed. In 2006 we were winners of the "Outstanding Contribution to Recovery by a Non-Profit Organization" award by the Irwin Foundation at Celebration Recovery.
Results: We've been in existence since 1996, but only became a 501(c)3 in January 2004. All of us live with some diagnosis of a mental illness and we love to create art. We've produced literary arts journals for over 10 years, produced many, many gallery shows, where we have musicians at our opening receptions, we do art fairs, fundraisers, etc., etc.
Target demographics: people who like to create art, whether visual, music, literary or drama, who also live with some form of mental illness.
Direct beneficiaries per year: Our studio serves approximately 35 - 50 artists per year, and we print work from approximately 35 authors in our literary journal annually.
Geographic areas served: Chicago, Chicagoland, DuPage County, Kane County, Cook County, Will County, and sometimes all of Illinois
Programs: art groups, classes, exhibits, producing The Awakenings Review, poetry readings/slams, music and dramatic productions.
2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I'm writing this review with some sense of bias--I'm the current President of the Awakenings Project and in 1996 and 1997 I got the ball rolling, as the founder you might say. I think the story of how Awakenings was founded speaks volumes for the wonderful and important work that we do. I appoached the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Illinois with a proposal to display an art show at their annual conference in 1997 where all the exhibitors would have mental illnesses. NAMI agreed. As a person with serious mental illness, I was just learning of the power of art on the self perception and self esteem of people who have mental illnesses. Expecting only a dozen artists to come out for that first show we got four times that many! The show was a terrific success! The next year we had another, and another after that. The momentum grew such that The Awakenings Project became an organization in its own right. Today very many of the people who started Awakenings are still with it! It's taken a life of its own and it guided the lives of many, including mine.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've helped find myself as a photographer and writer and I've made great friends.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If I had to change this organization I would seek funding to support a small staff.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I suffer from a mental illness, and I am on SSDI. After first recieving SSDI, I felt like a failure becuase I am no longer able to work. However, I have a creative spirit, and The Awakenings Project allowed me to channel that gift in an extremely posotive way. Once agian I had an identity, that was truer than any other I had possesed before. I am an artist, and Awakenings gave me an avenue to showcase, express, and help others with their creative works. Not to mention the friendships that have developed through the group!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

all areas of my life. Not just the creative side, but leadership, organizatio, and socially as well.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

distribute responsibilities among more members.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I am tremendously thankful for the help from the non profit project called Awakenings. Besides giving my cherished artwork a significant place to show, I have loved providing music for the events. When I moved back to live with my parents I was able to exhibit several paintings and ceramic pieces for an Awakenings show in Aurora, Illinois. It made me feel better to gain my own self confidence and an overall good feeling. Now, when I'm asked to play my guitar, I feel so happy to provide music for different Awakenings events.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

It helps with my mental health to know that my talents can be used.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would want the Awakenings project to reach more people like me who could benefit from it.

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Rating: 5 stars  

When I became disabled with my bipolar disorder, I knew I wanted to pursue my interest in the arts - particularly photography. On the very first show I was able to participate in I sold two of four of my exhibited pictures. I have participated in many since and have made many new friends. I am very grateful for this outlet.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

making new friends.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

expand the opportunities the people have to exhibit and explain their artwork.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Awakenings is an artists collaborative whose members happen to also be recovering, or in recovery, from mental illnesses. Awakenings has touched the lives of many people and facilitated joyful creativity for persons in hospitals, mental health centers, nursing homes, and the community. They offer a Drop-In Art Studio in Elgin every Saturday from 11 am -1:00 pm with free art materials, laid-back companionship, acceptance, and friendly encouragement to join in and play!
Volunteers conduct art classes and 'happenings' everywhere they can - nursing homes, national and local Recovery Conferences in Chicago, Elgin, Lisle and beyond; host art exhibits showcasing their members’ work at art galleries, public libraries, colleges and universities, stage poetry readings, and publish a fine bi-annual literary journal, The Awakenings Review, with writings from consumer-survivors and family members. Awakenings awards scholarships to deserving artists to recognize their talent and help bankroll their art supplies or studies.
This organization runs on pure love. The founding members take phone calls from all over the country and are always open to including new people who happen to hear of Awakenings, at times even picking them up and bringing them into their homes for a meeting and a meal! Or dropping by the home of a supporter in another state as they drive through on their family vacation!
Awakenings has survived and thrived for over a decade now - how many consumer-run organizations getting by on a shoestring can claim such longevity?
I support Awakenings because of its work celebrates the gifts and strengths of persons with mental illnesses, educates the public, fights stereotypes and stigma, sets the spirit free, and is a remarkable band of brothers and sisters. Come join us!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've personally seen many people become empowered and energized by the opportunity to create art in whatever way they wish, in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. People grow in their artistic abilities and expand their horizons as a result of associating with this band of artists and free spirits. People begin to flourish, not merely 'recover.'

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I wish there were more helping hands to share the work. More people with cars, time, and energy to help out at events. Awakenings needs lots of new members to keep growing. More media exposure would help! Awakenings is a powerful recovery tool that more mental health agencies should know about and make use of to jump-start their members recovery and creative self-expression. Needs persons with grant-writing abilities to give some time and expertise to help Awakenings grow.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Since I started attending Awakenings, Saturday is my most favorite day of the weekend. I have found a space to go to to express my art in the company of other fellow artists. I make greeting cards, including hand painted Christmas cards to my heart's content, I have lunch there and I write in my journal after everyone leaves. I have brought several of my friends to Awakenings and I am so grateful for the space to thrive in as a creative individual.

Linda Terp

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My life is enriched by having a free Art Studio to go to on a regular basis to produce art. I can socialize while I work which lifts my spirit. Also, there are periodic art showings to go to. They display my work and I can see the work of other artist, plus connect with people in the community.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would change nothing. It is a flexible, encouraging organization which fosters creative growth in an individual.

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Rating: 5 stars  

Irene and Sandy come weekly, after their regular fulltime jobs, to enthrall 4 tables of residents at our facility with their magical art group. The clients at first were hesitant as they did not believe they were "creative."
Now, they are working on projects in between sessions with Sandy and Irene. It is the most popular group at West Chicago Terrace Intermediate Care Facility. Everyday a resident will stop me and say "when is the art group?" Thanks Irene and Sandy.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the marked enthusiasm of the residents served

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

i can't think of anything-- Mary Ragel, Psychosocial Director West Chicago Terrace, West Chicago, IL

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

"The Awakenings Project" has enabled me to get connected to some of the most talented artists I have ever met. I remember going to the "old" studio in downtown Glen Ellyn with a group of Awakenings members. The studio had a charm of its own: it was filled with art materials and tools, but what caught my eye was clay. I ended up making a sculpture and with the help of friends having it fired. That was my first time working with artisan clay.
A couple of years after, I started taking art courses at the College of Dupage, in part due to being involved in "The Awakenings Project". I love to paint and draw. Art moves me in a way that nothing else does.
The poetry readings and art exhibits are great for us to meet and share ideas and stories.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I participated in a few fundraisers for "The Awakenings Project". It is always great to get together and catch up with members and see what they have been working on. Also, participating in poetry readings and art shows has been great. It is a great atmosphere that fosters growth and talent.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Invite more people to become members.

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Rating: 5 stars  

A great resource for people in my community, Awakenings is a positive and encouraging place for artists to explore creative arts, and empower and express themselves in the process. I constantly recommend The Awakenings Project art studio to the patients I work with at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, especially those who demonstrate interest and/or talent in art of any kind. The people of Awakenings make it an exceptional, unique and fun experience that everyone can enjoy.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

getting to meet artists who live well with mental illness, create artwork myself, and enjoy a free and open atmosphere that encourages creativity and originality...two areas I'd like to expand and grown in personally.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

bring the art studio back to its roots, in DuPage County...

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Rating: 5 stars  

I remember being back in the old Mason Lodge, and the first day I come by getting an old indian loom, and working on the other loom too. The Awakenings Project is great!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

all my life activities, and my whole family asks about them all the time.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

no changes need except more money for the artists!!

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