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Support Groups & You

by Bruce Meissner Ph.D

Today I’d like to talk a bit about support groups, how they work and how they can help.

Whether you’re dealing with a chronic illness or disability, emotional problem, life transition, or just want to learn more about a particular issue, your community may have a group where you can come together with people in similar situations and develop strategies and other interventions that can help you deal with these personal and sometimes complex issues.

Support groups give encouragement, a level of intimacy and camaraderie, particularly during difficult times. As face-to-face interactions within the community are becoming more and more scarce, support or self help group comprised of people in the same situation may help fill that void. Over the past 25 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of support groups in the United States. Today there are several hundred’s of distinctly different types of support and self help groups in our Country.

Although support can vary greatly, some common themes shared by all is that they are places where people can share personal stories, express emotions, and be heard in an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding and encouragement. Consumers share information, resources, and engage in peer counseling. By helping others, group members commonly feel strengthened and empowered themselves though the process. Besides furnishing support, some groups also focus on community education and advocacy.
Here at PACE we try to address many important and sometimes personal issues in our low vision support groups. Our groups discuss general issues surrounding vision loss and blindness, along with specific issues such as magnification, home safety, transportation, activities of daily living, advocacy and much much more.

All are welcome to attend our groups and we encourage you to tell family and friends about us.
Group Schedule
1. Piatt Co. (Monticello), the “See You” low vision group meets the 1st Tuesday of the month at Maple Point Assisted Living Center in Monticello from 1:30-3p
1000 N Union Drive, Monticello IL
2. Champaign Co. (Urbana), the “East Central Illinois” (ECI) low vision group meets the 1st Wednesday of the month here in Urbana at PACE Inc. from 1:30-3p
1317 E. Florida Avenue, Urbana IL
3. Champaign Co. (Rantoul), the “Prairie Village” low vision group meets the 3rd Friday of the month at the Prairie Village Retirement Community from 1-2p
200 International Drive, Rantoul IL
4.Vermilion Co. (Danville), “VIPIO” (Visually Impaired Persons Inspiring Others) low vision group meets the 4th Monday of the month at the Danville Public Library from 1:30 -3p
319 N. Vermilion Street, Danville, IL
5. Edgar Co. (Paris), the “Edgar” low vision support group meets quarterly (every 3 months) on the 4th Wednesday of the month at the Paris Public Library from 1:30-2:30
207 S. Main Street Paris, IL
6..Champaign Co. (Savoy), the “Windsor of Savoy” low vision support group meets the 4th Friday of the month at the Windsor of Savoy Independent and Assisted Living Community from 10:30-11:30
401 Burwash Avenue, Savoy IL
7. Douglas Co. (Tuscola) “White Caners” low vision support group, is currently being reestablished and we hope to have news of new meeting day/time for this group in the near future. Announcements will be made.

Remember everyone is welcome and if you have any questions about these groups feel free to contact Bruce Meissner Ph.D., CRC, Coordinator of Visual Impairment Services at PACE Inc. Center for Independent Living. Thank you and I hope to see you soon.

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