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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Alliances & Advocacy, Arts & Culture, Health, Mental Health, Visual Arts

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.

Community Stories

12 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Mary L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful organization that empowers people with mental illness to reach their full potential through the arts. They publish an outstanding literary journal, The Awakenings Review, have an art studio, produce plays and have poetry and music nights.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project is a great organization run by individuals with a mental illness. The organization uses the creative arts to help people understand their illness and learn about recovery. The organization encourages artists of all kinds to reach their potential. The role models of the artists help people in their journey to recovery as well as erase the stigma associated with mental illness.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been in touch with this organisation from the early days of my own recovery. It inspired me to know that there was such a celebration of talents and a proactive response to people's abilities in encouraging them to take their work forward and bring it to the wider attention of society at large. In so doing the public can appreciate the gifts of people rather than being made aware of their so-called deficits which every human being has should we choose to look at life that way. The quality and diversity of the work produced has been nothing short of astounding. I am extremely proud to be associated with this highly acclaimed enterprise and the passion the workers show.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was so surprised when I found The Awakenings Project. A roomful of artists and art supplies and I could come and use the studio and have a place to paint and not worry about the smell of turpentine or a bit of spilled paint. My apartment complex would never allow that. And on top of that we have shows! My art can be seen! A chance to have someone connect with what my art says about what I feel, what pain I have been thru, where I find healing in my life. I love the shows. They allow those of us with Mental Illnesses to speak to the public, to help them understand our lives, our talents. And some of us are even able to sell our artwork to have the money to make more. But most of all I like being able to talk to people who "get it" and share our struggles and our joys as we walk thru life looking for healing and acceptance.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a member of Awakenings for eight years-during the eight years-I had a my art work in art shows and even got an award from one art show-I volunteer for Awakenings by helping getting donations and also I volunteer for Awakenings by doing art groups at two nursing homes-since I have been a member of Awakenings the organization has helped me with my recovery of my mental illness-I would refer Awakenings to other people

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1 Chris W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Mike R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!!