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Mental Health Board restores Garden Quarter funding

McHENRY – The McHenry County Mental Health Board restored funding to a McHenry-based after-school program Tuesday after the organization showed it meets the board’s mission.

Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center officials identified clients in the mentor and after-school program that deal with mental health and substance abuse issues – two of the board’s core factors when determining what organizations it will fund.

After narrowing its request to focus on those respective issues, Garden Quarter changed its request from $51,778, which was denied, to $32,305, the amount approved Tuesday. The Mental Health Board denied Garden Quarter’s initial request in October after board president Connee Meschini said the group failed to show how it met the board’s mission in the “prevention and treatment of mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance abuse.”

Meschini commended the resource center for focusing the request to help those who the Mental Health Board seek to assist.

“I think we need to support that,” she said.

The board unanimously supported the modified request. While the board has accounted for roughly half of Garden Quarter’s budget in the past four years, the reduced support could still be covered through other means. Meschini said resource center officials are working with the McHenry County Regional Superintendent to cover educational services and the McHenry city officials and police officials to provide other support.

Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center’s budget is about $92,000.

The Mental Health Board’s previous allocations to the organization had covered more than the mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse issues Garden Quarter addressed.

John Darger, who has worked with the resource center, thanked the board for funding the organization and said he has seen first-hand the changes it can make for children and parents – even those who do not live in the Garden Quarter complex.

“These kids have something to look forward to,” he said. “And the parents are invested in the place they live. They care about this place and you can really see it.”

The Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center has grown to serve more than 50 children and is credited by police for reducing substance issues and gang activity that were far more frequent before the organization started in 2004. The program also regularly partners with other agencies such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Turning Point and anti-bullying organizations.

Other organizations including Centegra Health Systems, Mathers Clinic, Options and Advocacy, Pioneer Center for Human Services and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of McHenry County also received funding.

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