Haymarket brings community together with the West Loop Bavarian Block Party

Last Month, Haymarket’s neighbors and supporters enjoyed a weekend of brats, pretzels, and fun courtesy of the Center’s West Loop Bavarian Block Party. Hosted by the Associate Board, the Block Party serves to introduce the community to our mission.

The event grew from an annual birthday celebration for our founder Father Mac. We continue to honor that tradition through a family-friendly atmosphere with performers and activities geared towards children during the afternoon. True to the Oktoberfest theme, attendees were able to enjoy authentic German cuisine, live music (including traditional German polka), and fun games, all while supporting Haymarket Center.

“In hosting this event, the main goals of the Associate Board were to raise awareness about Haymarket Center’s mission and to celebrate with our neighbors in the West Loop,” said Kelly McKay, President of the Associate Board of Haymarket Center. “Looking at the crowds we had each night, I certainly feel like we accomplished that.”

Thank you to our Associate Board, sponsors, vendors, volunteers and attendees for supporting the event.

Check out photos from the event.

Patients Come Together for “Stigma Spit” Open Mic Nights

Last month, members of Haymarket’s Health and Wellness Department revived the Center’s popular Stigma Spit, an open mic event for patients to express their feelings about substance use and the stigmas attached to it.

“We started Stigma Spit a few years ago, but we had to put it on pause when the pandemic came around,” explained Ronnie Hughes, a Coordinator for the Health and Wellness Department and the principal organizer of Stigma Spit. “We want to bring this back to help our clients socialize and demonstrate to them that sober-living can be fun.”

Stigma Spit has two rules: no booing, and only tasteful material is allowed. At September’s event, patients performed a variety of acts that included singing, skits, poetry, and much more. For many of the original pieces, patients incorporated messaging about their recovery.

“We consistently have had excellent performances at Stigma Spit,” said Hughes. “We had one patient a few years ago recite Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and I still remember that one because it was so powerful. That same year we also had patients in the same unit do a skit about their transition from substance to sober living, and that was very well-done.”

Youth Prevention Team Prepares for Red Ribbon Week

The last week of October marks Red Ribbon Week, where children are taught the importance of avoiding alcohol, drugs, and other harmful substances. To bring its message of substance use prevention to more children, Haymarket Center is joining together with local schools to celebrate Red Ribbon Week.

Haymarket Center’s Youth Prevention Specialists will join the staff of Woodson South Elementary School and Reavis Math and Science Academy for on-site, informational programming and fun activities. During Red Ribbon Week, Haymarket staff will help students with arts and crafts projects and door-decorating contests as well as organize games and other activities.

“Historically, Haymarket Center has been very involved in helping local schools organize their Red Ribbon Week projects,” explained Spencer Jones, Supervisor of Haymarket’s Youth Prevention Team. “As more substances find their way into communities throughout Chicago, we recognize the need to step up and make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to keep kids safe.”

Haymarket Center’s Youth Prevention Program works with middle and high school students at six Chicago Public Schools on Chicago’s South Side. This school year, they have already served more than 300 students. The program is supported by the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

To support our Youth Prevention, and Red Ribbon Week check out our Amazon Wishlist.

Newsweek Names Haymarket Center as One of America’s Top Substance Use Treatment Centers

Haymarket Center has been recognized by Newsweek and Statista as one of America’s Best Addiction Treatment Centers of 2023. Of the thousands of substance use treatment centers across the country, Haymarket Center joins a select few in earning this recognition for its outstanding record of success.

In crafting its ranking, Newsweek invited more than 4,000 medical professionals in the field of substance use treatment, including doctors, therapists, and counselors, to participate in a survey assessing Haymarket Center and its peer organizations in four key areas: quality of care, quality of follow-up care, quality of service, and accommodation & amenities. In addition to the recommendation of peers, Newsweek also factored accreditations from multiple regulatory and oversight bodies into each organization’s ranking. This methodology is designed to ensure that the rankings published by Newsweek matches professional opinion as thoroughly and precisely as possible.

“Haymarket would not have earned this recognition without the professionalism, dedication, and concern for the wellbeing of our patients that our staff displays every day,” said Haymarket Center President and CEO Dr. Dan Lustig. “I feel tremendous pride in seeing Haymarket’s core values being exemplified each day in the actions and conduct of our staff.”

This achievement is made possible by the dedication and effort of the staff, volunteers, and supporters in the Haymarket community. On behalf of the thousands of people that Haymarket Center serves each year, we thank you.

Partner Highlight: UI Health

Haymarket Center has partnered with the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science System (UI Health) to connect individuals seeking hospital care for substance use disorders with comprehensive community-based treatment.

Through this new partnership, Care Coordinators from Haymarket Center will be onsite at the UI Health emergency department and inpatient units to engage with patients experiencing opioid-related conditions. Care Coordinators will be responsible for providing an array of support services to patients including access to medication and mental health services, transportation to medical appointments, and monitoring the overall progress of the patient’s recovery. The program aims to serve 1,000 adults experiencing opioid-related conditions over the course of four years.

While this partnership was years in the making, it has its roots in the success Haymarket has experienced with other local hospital systems.

“The leadership of UI Health was impressed by the success we’ve had in partnering with medical centers such as Stroger Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital, and several others in Chicagoland, and wanted to work with us in this new program,” explained Haymarket Center’s Chief Medical Officer Kenyatta Cathey. “We are thankful for the opportunity to work with the exceptional medical staff of UI Health and to bring our practices to those who have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.”

Haymarket Center Organizes Accelerated Moving Event

Last month, Haymarket Center hosted its first Accelerated Moving Event (AME) for people experiencing homelessness and seeking shelter on trains and public transit stations.

The event was held at Harold Washington Library, in partnership with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the Chicago Department of Family and Social Services (DFSS), AllChicago, and Thresholds to connect people with housing. AMEs work by compressing many of the steps and paperwork involved in the housing process into a single day, allowing applicants in urgent need of housing to obtain it quickly. Once applicants find a home, they continue to remain in contact with case managers in order to ensure that their journey to recovery remains on track.

“We successfully enrolled 11 people from our Mobile Outreach Program in the AME, which is what we were hoping for,” explained Isabella Mancini, Manager of the Mobile Outreach Program “The next steps are to have those 11 people sign leases, move into housing within 90 days, and follow up with the Outreach team and their case managers as they progress in their recovery.”

Haymarket Center would like to thank the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Chicago Department of Family and Social Services (DFSS) for their support and guidance of our Center’s Outreach Program, without whom this event would not be possible.

Persistence and Recovery: Lindsay’s Story

“I came to Haymarket for help because I was tired of living the way I was living,” Lindsay explained. “I didn’t want to die like this.”

For many people who live with substance use disorders, the path to recovery isn’t always straight and steady. For Lindsay, it took more than 30 years for him to find relief from his substance use disorder.

Haymarket Center’s doors are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we treat everybody in need of our services, regardless of their ability to pay. For many people like Lindsay, our services are the only options available to help them regain control of their lives.

“I had a few different stints at Haymarket. The first couple of times I didn’t take treatment as seriously as I should have, and I certainly regret that,” Lindsay explained. “When I was finally ready to change my life for good, I knew that Haymarket was there to help.”

The anger that Lindsay had directed towards himself for his perceived failings proved to be the ultimate barrier that kept him from enjoying a consistent, stable recovery. In response, the counselors and staff members of Haymarket worked with him to process his emotions and to forgive himself in order to move forward in his recovery.

“The staff members at Haymarket taught me how to let go of all the anger and everything else that was holding me back,” said Lindsay. “I took the time to really listen to what they were saying, and it made a huge difference.”

Today, Lindsay is at peace with himself and enjoying a life free of substance use. He maintains his recovery by going to AA meetings and supporting other people with substance use disorders. While Lindsay has made peace with his past, he still wishes that others knew about the struggles that people like him face.

“I wish that people had more compassion for those who have problems with substances,” Lindsay said. “Nobody chooses this life. I made a mistake once that took me years to fix, but I’m still lucky that Haymarket was able to help me fix it.

Lindsay’s journey to recovery was long, but in the end, he was able to make it, and we at Haymarket are so proud to have been a part of that journey.

Over the past year, Haymarket has provided comprehensive treatment and support services, including job placement, recovery coaching, and parenting support to the 12,000 patients who have come to us in their time of need. We are proud of the things that we have accomplished, but additional support will help maintain excellent care for our patients and prepare for what the future might bring. With your help, we can do just that.

Please consider making a gift today to help Haymarket continue to be a place of relief and recovery for people like Lindsay.

Haymarket Center Designated FQHC Look-Alike

We are excited to announce that we have been designated a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-Alike for homeless individuals by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), which qualifies us to receive reimbursement for primary care services so that we can provide fully integrated care for our patients regardless of their ability to pay.

“Haymarket’s commitment to serving individuals with substance use disorders, experiencing homelessness and other overlapping health conditions will be profoundly enhanced by our FQHC Look-Alike status,” said President & CEO Dr. Dan Lustig.

FQHCs are critical community health organizations that serve one in five Medicaid members in the U.S. To receive FQHC-LAL status, we had to meet all Health Center Program requirements, including being a non-profit organization, providing an array of primary care services alongside homelessness support.

“We offer comprehensive substance use disorder and behavioral health treatment, as well as primary care, to about 12,000 of our most vulnerable neighbors each year who experience health disparities with goal of improving health equity in our State.” Lustig said. “The benefits that come with being an FQHC Look-Alike, especially the Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates, will empower us to deepen this mission and serve even more Chicago-area residents in need.”

The FQHC Look-Alike designation recognizes our work providing high-quality, culturally responsive health care services and gives us access to a grants to support integration in health care.  This designation complements our already involvement with the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program and additional supports for staff recruitment, retention and training.

Haymarket Center Patients attend Drug Court Graduation Ceremony

On Thursday, May 18, 8 Haymarket patients graduated from the Rehabilitative Alternative Probation program, or (W)RAP, Cook County’s nationally acclaimed drug court program. The ceremony, which took place at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, concluded with graduates from the program and having their criminal records expunged in recognition of their completion of the program.

(W)RAP seeks to offer people who have been arrested on drug charges an alternative to receiving felony charges and incarceration by completing a two-year process where they receive treatment for substance use, refrain from use drugs or alcohol, and complete a case management plan. Haymarket Center’s role in (W)RAP is providing treatment services to members of the program.

“Haymarket Center has been involved in the drug court program for 20 years,” explained Aesha Muhammad, Manager of the Men’s Medical Detox program at Haymarket. “(W)RAP has many components in addition to case management. (W)RAP graduates receive support from the program in finding jobs and even housing if necessary. Most importantly, the success of programs like this helps the criminal justice system better understand and respond to addiction.”

The Chicago Sun-Times covered the recent graduation ceremony: “From dealing drugs to working for CTA, Hostess: Cook County Drug Court program grads get felony records expunged to begin new lives.”

Haymarket Center Celebrates Second Annual Gala

Haymarket Center’s 2023 Gala was an incredible success that raised more than half a million dollars for treatment programs at the Center. The event brought together more than 480 supporters for an evening that featured inspirational remarks from organization leadership, a former patient, honorees, and our keynote speaker, Elizabeth Vargas.     

Haymarket Center organizes its gala each year to support the thousands of men, women, and children who depend on our services to live a life free from substance use disorders. Shontae, a former patient, shared his personal experience and journey to recovery that has led him back to North Carolina to pursue his bachelor’s degree. You can view Shontae’s story here.                                 

Celebrity Keynote speaker Elizabeth Vargas shared her own stories about struggling with alcohol use disorder and anxiety and the details of her recovery journey, while honorees Governor J.B. Pritzker, President and CEO of the National Council for Mental Wellbeing Chuck Ingoglia, and CBS Chicago anchor Irika Sargent thanked Haymarket Center for its role in treating substance use disorders in Chicago and beyond.

“For nearly fifty years, Haymarket Center has served the people of Chicago with quality and holistic substance use and mental health services, recognizing the importance of person-centered, community-based approaches at every turn,” said Governor Pritzker in his acceptance speech for the Father Mac Appreciation Award. “Haymarket Center is the gold standard of behavioral healthcare organizations.”

Thank you to everyone who supported the 2023 Haymarket Gala. Special thanks to Master of Ceremonies Irika Sargent, Event Chair Richard Price, Co-Chairs Tanya Davis and Heather Way Kitzes, and the gala committee.

View photos of the gala