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Thresholds, A North Center Nonprofit, Gets $1 Million To Renovate Building Providing Mental Health Services For Youth

Buoyed by federal funding, Thresholds leaders expect to begin renovations this year to upgrade the building where their youth services have been based since the '80s.

Left to right: Thresholds Board Member Ina Owens, Thresholds Young Adult Client James, Thresholds Young Adult Program Director Bea Sobel, Sen. Dick Durbin, Thresholds CEO Mark Ishaug, Ald. Matt Martin (47th), Thresholds Board Vice President Dr. Ven Mothkar, Thresholds Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wesley Cook on July 15, 2022 at Threshold’s North Center location.
Provided by Thresholds
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NORTH CENTER — A nonprofit that provides housing and other services for people with mental illness and substance use disorders will begin renovating its longtime North Center location thanks to a $1 million grant. 

Thresholds has offered case management, housing, employment, education, primary care and other services to people in Illinois since 1959. It’s building at 4223 N. Lincoln Ave. has been the headquarters for the nonprofit’s Young Adult Program and Thresholds High School since the ’80s, said Bea Sobel, Young Adult Program director.

Now, it’ll get a facelift and infrastructure upgrades with the grant, which comes through Sen. Dick Durbin.

“It’s really old building that has basic issues related to, for example, temperature control,” Sobel said. 

The building was formerly a German social club; through Thresholds, it serves as a residential program and “therapeutic high school” for people 16-21 with mental illness and trauma, Sobel said.

Durbin said he secured the funding for Thresholds in part due to letters of support from Ald. Matt Martin (47th), state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce and the Northcenter Neighborhood Association.

“There’s no question that the pandemic has harmed the mental health of Americans. The isolation, economic angst, and many stressors in our society have exacerbated rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide,” Durbin said in a statement. “This reality makes the work that Thresholds does — providing clinical services and resources to young adults, veterans, young mothers, and so many others — all the more essential.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Senator Dick Durbin speaks at the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line station after touring the station with officials in Roseland on July 16, 2021.

The nonprofit’s leaders expect to begin construction this year with the goal of having the work done by the second half of 2023, spokeswoman Emily Moen said.

During the design phase, the nonprofit’s staff asked for input from the young people it serves in how the renovated building should look, Moen said.

In addition to cosmetic fixes, the grant will help cover the cost of adding offices for staff, flexible areas to better accommodate the school and clinical needs, and a music recording studio for the nonprofit’s young clients to explore creative endeavors, Moen said.

The clients Thresholds serves most often had an unstable childhood, Sobel said. 

“They have lived in multiple places. They have had lots of different placements. They have lots of rejection and abandonment,” Sobel said. “Adults that were supposed to take care of them and meet their needs repeatedly failed to do so.”

Thresholds’ North Center program is the “last stop” for its youth clients before they are transitioned into adult mental health services and expected to live on their own, Sobel said. 

“We do our best to prepare them for that transition when they launch into that world of adulthood,” she said. 

Earlier this year, the American Psychiatric Association reported an increase in demand for mental health treatments for anxiety and depression in 2021 compared to 2020. 

“For our young people, like with everyone else, the pandemic exacerbated their needs, which is to have stable adults around every day coming to support them,” Sobel said.

Thresholds staff continued to work with clients in person throughout the pandemic because the work they do was impossible to continue virtually, Sobel said. 

“My staff came to work putting their own health and safety sometimes at risk, especially in those first months,” Sobel said. “They were profoundly brave and dedicated to just showing up every day during that time.”

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