There are two main types of seizures. Generalized seizures affect the whole brain. Focal, or partial seizures, affect just one part of the brain.
Epilepsy Program Coordinator:
Stephanie has 17 years of experience working for Streator Unlimited and she’s brought a lot to the organization. Her vast array of experience and professional qualifications make her an ideal program coordinator. Among her accomplishments, she:
Created SU’s nationally accredited community employment program.
Managed Northwest and Central IL grants.
Started a weekly virtual support group during the pandemic.
Solicits and schedules guest speakers for the virtual support group.
Helped an individual with epilepsy move from a homeless shelter into a CILA.
Received Training from Griffin, Hammis & Associates for Customized Employment.
Served as Mentor to Other Agencies.
Stephanie is also an exceptional public speaker and enjoys presenting to students, teachers, community groups, employers, and other groups. She has experience in all aspects of case management and has led employment-related support groups for individuals with disabilities.
Program participants will particularly appreciate Stephanie’s personal experience and hands-on approach in dealing with the challenges that epilepsy presents. She has lived with epilepsy since her first seizure at six years old and has supported numerous individuals through seizures during her career. She is certified in first aid and CPR and has personal experience with:
Receiving a diagnosis
Living with seizures and twitches
Navigating medication and dosages
Experiencing a breakthrough seizure on medication
Fears of a high-risk pregnancy
Employment struggles when unable to drive post seizure
Finding optimal medical options
Achieving the best possible health
Stephanie received her Bachelor’s in Sociology with a Minor in Psychology from Illinois College. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.7 and was inducted into both Alpha Kappa Delta and Psi Chi honorary societies.
John has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1991. His clinical experience and depth of experience in grant work enable him to make sure our services will be effective in meeting your needs. Among his accomplishments, John has authored and managed numerous grants including:
Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities Investment RICES (Rural Illinois Customized Employment and Sustainability) project
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Neighborhood Stabilization Program
Illinois Department of Transportation Section 5310 Grants
Title XX programs
Community Development Block Grants and private foundation funding
John holds a phenomenal record in reporting and standards compliance with funders including DHS, IHDA, IDOT, HUD, and LaSalle and Macon County Mental Health Boards. We are confident in his ability to ensure all grant requirements are met while he works with Stephanie Harcharik to coordinate services.
John has a Master’s in Rehabilitation Administration and Services from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Andy is one of our dedicated peer facilitators for support groups. Through customized employment services, he has proudly held a community job for ten years. He has gained a tremendous amount of experience through building his social network, serving as co-secretary of Streator Kiwanis Club, and establishing himself as an active and visible member of the community.
During the COVID-19 shutdown, Andy headed up a weekly Facebook Live session to support those navigating the unprecedented situation. His contributions to support groups have always been well-received and appreciated.
Andy also has experience as a public speaker and has presented on customized employment at the Illinois Statewide Transition Conference. He can share on a range of topics including:
Seizures on the job
Addressing employer concerns
Needed and appropriate accommodations
Seizure-related work absences and leave
Personalized and practical approaches to maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Support and assistance for individuals with intellectual disabilities
Marla is Andy Hoekstra’s mother and serves in several roles. She is a support for Andy and shares her experience as a caregiver with other parents and family members. She also facilitates the Illinois Epilepsy Support and Resources Facebook Page and Group.
Parents, family members, and group members alike will appreciate Marla’s real-life experience and expertise in raising a child with complex medical and service needs. She is the perfect complement to the clinical expertise Streator Unlimited provides.
Among her experiences, Marla has:
Developed a successful business
Advocated for individuals with disabilities
Utilized social media to boost the SU annual fundraiser from netting $12,000 to $40,000 over a four-year period
Contributed to community awareness campaigns
Facilitated the hire of an individual with a developmental disability by a community employer
Case Manager and Grant Coordinator:
Melanie has served as a case manager and supervisor with SU for 17 years, coming to us directly after graduating from Illinois State University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a minor in Sociology.
Among other roles, she:
Heads the Behavior Intervention Committee
Has served as CPI instructor teaching techniques for dealing with negative behaviors
Provides service facilitation through the Illinois Home and Community Based Support Servcies Waiver
She will continue to provide case management and grant coordination to ensure services are provided in a timely manner.
Kara is a Medical Social Worker for OSF Home Health and Hospice. She sees patients in their homes and helps connect them to services, facilitates the completion of legal documents, and offers support and counseling. This role is a perfect outlet for her passion for holistic health and facilitating wellness between mind, body, and spirit.
Among other roles, Kara:
Assists with an SU grant program as a counselor for individuals with epilepsy
Participates in sports including CrossFit, yoga, volleyball, and triathlons
Has experience coaching fitness classes
Kara is a wife and proud mom of four busy kids and can often be seen running them around to extra-curricular activities. When she gets downtime, she enjoys reading, cleaning, and spending time in nature.
Transportation and Medical Appointments Expertise:
Michelle has worked with adults with developmental disabilities and epilepsy for over 30 years. She also has a year and a half worth of experience working as a pharmacy technician. She is passionate about supporting individuals, families, and medical professionals so each person experiences productive, positive interactions and progress is maintained toward achieving treatment goals.
With Streator Unlimited, Michelle:
Serves as a Direct Support Professional (DSP)
Coordinates all medical appointments for CILA residents
Transports residents to medical appointments in and out of state
Facilitates transport for non-emergency and emergency needs
Works with a variety of state epilepsy specialists and their teams
In her role as Transportation and Medical Appointments Expert for the grant, Michelle will:
Advise families and individuals regarding transportation needs
Serve as a resource to service providers for accessing reimbursement for services
Skilled Registered Nurse:
Kathy is an RN with nine years of experience working with individuals in skilled care facilities and two years working in a psychiatric unit. Before nursing, she worked for two years as a DSP.
At home, Kathy cares for her beloved 18-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome. Kathy combines her professional expertise and personal experience to support you in navigating the medical system and response to treatment.
Financial and Benefits Management:
Teri brings more than 36 years of experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities and epilepsy to her job at SU as a Benefits Specialist. Her extensive experience includes supporting individuals and families with managing:
Private health care
Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (HBWD)
SNAP benefits through DHS
Medical benefits through DHS
DHS enrollment and recertification
Medicare A, B, & D
Social Security benefits
Representative payee reports
Special needs trusts
Savings and checking accounts
Cash on hand
Filing income tax
Rent payments and rental agreements
Working with debt collectors
Grant participants are in good hands with Teri helping them through the hurdles of planning and navigating all things financial.
Intellectual Disabilities and Self Advocacy Expertise:
Blue Tower Solutions, Inc.
BTS has a rich history of working with individuals with disabilities and disability service providers. They are a leader in the field and have developed programs and resources to support self-advocacy, equality, and justice.
BTS provides a wealth of assistance including:
Training and consultation
Training materials to support dreams and life goals of individuals with disabilities
Assistance to help individuals with disabilities to gain a vision for their lives
Safeguarding the rights of individuals with disabilities
Prevention of abuse and neglect
Prevention of sexual assault and other forms of violence in the lives of individuals with disabilities
BTS also has contacts across the state to forward their mission of caring for individuals with disabilities such as disability organizations, self-advocate groups, victim services, and community collaborative partners. In the third quarter of FY21 alone, BTS worked with IDD self-advocacy groups to provide online support groups, reaching more than 488 people with IDD.
Blue Tower Solutions Specialist:
Leanne has specialized in supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1999. Before working for BTS, she worked for 15 years in various roles that would serve her well in years to come including job coach, QIDP, Day Services Manager, and Director of Employment and Advocacy.
Leanne is a national speaker, writer, and consultant who specializes in improving organizations and systems that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She believes that the key to helping those who receive service is encouraging, empowering, and enlightening the staff who work for them.
Through a wide variety of experiences, Leanne contributes a unique perspective and brings a wealth of knowledge to her role. A few of her past roles include:
Serving as Organizational Coordinator for the Illinois Self Advocacy Alliance
Serving the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council under the Criminal Justice Information Authority
Advocacy work assisting families of children with disabilities during IEP meetings
Serving on the Central Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force
Serving as Vice-President on the Board of Directors for the Arc of Illin
Leanne holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Healthcare Administration.