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Awakenings Project

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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

41 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Terry87

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project not only gives voice to artists, musicians and writers living with mental illness, it brings awareness, understanding, appreciation and acceptance to the world at large. The creativity is astounding, the volunteers tireless, the shared benefit immeasurable. We all are enriched.

1 kraymax

Donor

Rating: 5

Awakenings has been a journey of awakening the artistic possibilities for my son. They have provided space, supplies, support and opportunities that he would not have had otherwise. It's an encouraging community that we are delighted to support.

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2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

We have followed the Awakenings Project through our son for eight years now. The project continues to grow, flourish, and offer opportunities for shows and sales to artists who might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. The artists offer paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, furniture, pottery --an amazing breadth of expression.

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1 Ted_10

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

This is a beautiful group of people sharing their creativity and connections with each other and the world!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

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

1 AwakeningsArtist

Board Member

Rating: 5

I may seem biased, as President of the Board of Awakenings, and a member since the get-go, but it's not like I came up with the idea for this project. The credit for that rightly goes to our founder, Robert Lundin. He had the vision for an art show, and it was originally supposed to be just a one-weekend show at a NAMI-IL conference. But I'd like to take some credit for helping to get it off the ground, and for keeping it going for what is now approximately 18 years. There are several other members who have been with us since the beginning also, such as Ben Beyerlein, Anton Witek, Sandy Mazurek, and three other co-founders who have since passed away, Kurt Taecker, Trish Evers, and William Alexander. It's that kind of loyalty that tells me we must be doing something right. With the advent of the internet, we developed our website, and the second version, 2.0, of our website was designed by Wendy Liles, a former board member, who donated her time to do that for us. When facebook was spreading like wildfire, we started The Awakenings Project Group, and later Awakenings Project Page, which have helped us expand far beyond the borders of Illinois, to find like-minded artists from all across the country and even around the world. Robert Lundin also had the vision to see us expanding into the Literary Arts, Music, and Drama. This has been an empowering experience for all of us, in every capacity, a learning, loving, and powerful feeling of belonging and significance. I want to thank everyone who has reviewed us and everyone who has participated in any way. I hope we can keep it going together, with all your help. Thank you.

2 Robert143

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have worked with The Awakening Project in the past and they obviously touch the souls of some very unique and talented artist.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I grew up understanding the Arts are most essential the existence of humanity. As I have seen the power of the Arts working as therapy for my own bouts of mental illness, I realized the powerful impact it can have on others as well. The Awakenings Project created an important outlet and opportunity for people who need a safe place to express themselves and receive therapy through Art.

1 MaryAnn G.

Board Member

Rating: 5

When I 1st joined FB, I was looking for groups that met certain requirements. I wanted to be w/ like minded people who are achieving their goals in a trusting comfortable atmosphere. I stumbled upon "The Awakenings Project" w/Irene & Co. And let me tell you they are so much more than that...making music CD's & selling them, going to various art shows...selling paintings, poetry workshops & readings...you name it & they are there. What an inspiration The Awakenings Project has been for me. Although I live a few states away, it feels like I am right at home w/my friends from Awakenings. Bravo to the group for all you do.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

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.

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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.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project is such a worthwhile organization. In addition to the fantastic artwork, I know that every dollar of my donation goes directly to help persons recovering from mental illnesses and not to some drug company funded agenda.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We were looking for artwork to enhance the atmosphere of our nonprofit psychology clinic and that's when we discovered the wonderful Awakenings Project. We ended up buying a superb piece of art from a client who struggled with depression. The piece is hung proudly in a place of honor in our clinic and many clients and clinicians have appreciated not only the art itself, but the story of the artist working to overcome his challenges. The Awakenings Project is awesome!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project is a wonderfuul non-profit created to help those, like me, suffering from various forms of mental illness express ourselves through the arts. One would be hard-pressed to find an organization serving the mentally ill population as successfully as The Awakenings Project. Awakenings has proven to be a very valueable creative outlet for me--without Awakenings I would have no voice and continue to feel the affects of stigma from the general public.
The Awakenings Project is an organization that everyone should get behind and support! The awesome volunteers at Awakenings are helping break down barriers and changing lives, like mine, just by existing!

Previous Stories

Donor

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project is a wonderful non-profit unlike any other. It's focus on those who are affected by mental illness is truly a rarity in today's world and deserves far more attention than it has been receiving to-date.
I am a proud supporter of The Awakenings Project and have been for the last couple of years. Anyone who has had their lives touched by mental illness will find the staff and volunteers at this organization understand the needs of those afflicted by psychological diseases. Awakenings encourages healing through art--in all it's forms--to better not only the mental health community, but the world at large. This unique non-profit seeks to be a voice and outlet for an often overlooked segment of our society--the mentally ill.
As a mental health consumer and writer, this organization has filled a need for me; a need to be heard! There is no other non-profit quite like it in the world and I really can't say enough great things about it!

Peter A.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

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1

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Lisa176

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love what they are doing with art to help those 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.

Melissa H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Amazing. I love the Awakenings Project and am so grateful for all those that they help through art. It is a beautiful Project that everyone could benefit from. I look forward to partnering with the Awakenings Project in the Future! Irene and crew you rock!

Previous Stories
1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Awakenings Project is an amazing group of artists that empowers those living with mental illness. I have spent an afternoon with the artists in studio and I felt honored to be creating alongside fellow artists. I am an Art Therapist and firmly believe in the creative process of art making. Creating artwork can connect you to your true self and soul and is very healing. They are amazing and we are blessed to have them in our area.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I began with Awakenings in 2004. Initially I was heavily involved and did many of the shows and helped with set-up and spent a lot of time at the studio. I would say that the Awakenings Project helped me through some pretty dark periods in my life. Over the years I became less involved in the shows and set-up and became a board member-- fast forwarding to now where i am a advisory board member due to my rather busy life. I have witnessed the transformation one can experience by being a part of Awakenings Project as i know that others have as well. Next May i will be finishing up my masters in Social Work and hope to have more time to be involved with Awakenings Project-- as i know that they continue to reach out and touch many others.

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