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  

2 people found this review helpful

In 2007, while I was reeling under a diagnosis of Bi-polar disorder and while painting Oil on Canvas to express my inner landscape; I was introduced to the Awakenings Project by my Psychotherapist soon after hospitalization.

The intention was to meet creative individuals whose lives were similarly disrupted by mental illness or due to their inability to cope with stress. Initially I was afraid to identify myself with a group that could further label me, and distance me from my goal of getting back to "normal" ordinary life.

My apprehension ended when I first met Irene O'Neil and the group. Irene's calm spirit immediately put me at rest and I lay my defenses down. I had carried some of my paintings into the meeting room hoping I could resonate with someone.

By the end of that evening, I felt reassured that I was not isolated on my island of confusion and grief. Others had navigated the waters that I now tread and were managing whatever their conditions in a way that I found commendable.

Awakening Project helped exhibit my work at the local library which then encouraged me to come out of my isolating shell and show my work at different galleries outside. This helped me to relate my problems with family members and friends over time.

Since then, I have moved onward in my journey to recovery. I no longer have a goal to reach the promised land called "normal." I have learned to work with my unique set of sensibilities and strengths.

Awakenings Project with its wonderful members, hold my highest regard and esteem.
I remain grateful. Beena

 
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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Rediscovering Awakenings after some years has allowed me to participate in ways I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. It is truly a great organization that allows participants to be themselves. I feel encouraged to try new things and feel that I am among friends. I only wish I'd been around since the beginning. It is amazing!

 
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Rating: 3 stars  

When the Awakenings Project moved to Elgin, Il I became aware and involved in the work they were doing to help precious people deal with their illness and flourish. They help artists who deal with psychiatric illness in the visual arts, drama, music and writing. For me they gave me a group of people I could spend time with, network with and process my life. I am not actively involved now but the project gave me a base to help build my life on.

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

A lot

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

Likely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Quite well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

 
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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  

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  

Why is art important to mental health? It was a dreary January morning when I was barely able to drive myself to the hospital, my thinking was so screwed-up. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I was extremely paranoid. So much so, that I nearly ran out of the therapist’s office in fear. But then I saw some pencil drawings of a rock and roll band on the inside of her office door. That really put me at ease; I knew the therapist could be trusted, so I stayed and got treatment. That wasn't the work of an Awakenings artist on her door, but now I continue to appreciate the artwork of others through my association with the Awakenings Project.

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

Awakenings has definitely been a factor in contributing to my recovery. Not only do I experience something positive when I appreciate others' artwork, I also have a sense of belonging since I've gotten to know a lot of the people there quite well.

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

Bring in new people who can take on more leadership roles while encouraging those already there to do the same, and getting more funding so Awakenings can expand and serve more people who have mental illnesses.

 
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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

The Awakrnngs Project has meant so very much to me. Coming out of partial brain removal in 2003 , I was quite reserved to say say the least.y mental illness had taken over my being. I came over to the Awakenimgs Project aroun 2006. It has meant all tje very being of my inside expression. Havimg beem an art major in college, I did bave a bit of formal knowledge though bundled up inside and me being dased and confused(sorry for the saying). The Awakenings Project helped me to blossum back to my artistic roots amd also helped in my socialising, too. Still a part of the project, it makes me want to be a light to others suffering from menal illness as I do. Without the Awkenings Project I would have never been better off!

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Awakenings has brought me from a sheltered state to one that I can communicate freely with other like minded individuals. The shows we have are great to show off the fine arts side of the Project.

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

I've been able to sell my artwork for the first time.

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

If I had to change Awakenings, I would provide more successes in grant money.

 
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