Jazmin Lopez, of Bridgeview, is the new executive director of the mental health commission at the Township of Lyons. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Jazmin Lopez, of Bridgeview, is the new executive director of the mental health commission at the Township of Lyons. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Lopez is new director for Lyons Township mental health services

Spread the love

By Steve Metsch

Jazmin Lopez has been training for her new job the past three years.

Lopez, 36, is the new executive director of the Lyons Township Mental Health Commission.

She started on Dec. 12. Lopez replaces Ron Melka, who retired. She had been Melka’s administrative assistant the past three years.

The Bridgeview resident is “so excited” to be in her new job.

“It’s a great opportunity to do more advocacy work in all of our township,” she said.

“When I started, at my interview, it was mentioned that it would be a training type of mentorship, at some point I’d succeed Ron. … I met the qualifications and they promoted me,” she said at the township office in Countryside.

Lopez brings 17 years of advocacy experience. She earned a legal studies degree from Dominican University and has her master’s degree in human services from Concordia University.

Both come into play in her day-to-day work.

“I have social work experience. I have community advocacy. I have experience working with people with disabilities. And I’ve been doing this since I was 19,” Lopez said.

She started working at a law firm at that young age.

“And I fell in love with disability and family law.”

Raised by her grandparents, she has an appreciation for what seniors deal with daily.

After working as a paralegal, where she worked on elder abuse, she shifted to working on domestic violence cases. She also worked the homeless.

“My experience working with people with mental illness, when I found this position, I thought this is exactly what I need to be doing.” she said.

The commission funds social service agencies to provide mental health, disability and substance mis-use services.

“The agencies we support are required to provide affordable or free services to our residents. Now we’re expanding the work we do by doing more community education,” Lopez said.

That means partnering with agencies, she said. The Bridgeview Public Library is one example.

“All these areas that are not La Grange, Countryside, Hodgkins, we want to make everyone else (in the township) gets an opportunity to use the resources,” she said.

The township covers 17 municipalities along with unincorporated areas like La Grange Highlands.

The pandemic, she said, may have opened eyes of many to the need for mental health awareness.

“After COVID, more people are open to destigmatizing mental illness is. We all got a taste of loneliness and the importance or community, of interacting with other human beings,” Lopez said.

Now, people are more open to talking about what scares them, what worries them, she said.

The commission is developing a resource guide “on top of what’s on our web site” that will be in English, Polish, Spanish and Arabic.

“We want to act as a hub, build relationships with libraries, villages, park district and schools. So, if someone needs support, they can’t find an agency, they can contact us and we’ll make the proper referral,” she said.

A workshop on teen mental health will be coming to the Bridgeview Public Library in February, she said.

Social media has increased pressure on teens, she said: “It’s a great tool to stay connected, but it’s not for youths who are easily influenced.”

The challenge she faces is building trust and making connections.

“We don’t have the presence we should have and I want to build that presence,” she said.

Township Supervisor Christopher Getty looks forward to working with Lopez.

“I am very happy to see Jazmin Lopez move into the director position as she thoroughly understands the purpose and goals of the Lyons Township Mental Health Commission.

“Jazmin is a talented individual who will only help further the work of the commission. I look forward to seeing her succeed in her new role,” Getty said in a text.

Mariam Ahmad, is the new executive administrative, filling the role Lopez had under Melka.

Melka, Lopez said, “is a great supervisor.”

“He had a passion for youth. He knows the ins and outs, anything related to youths. I hope to continue to advocate for teens and youth as much as he did,” Lopez said.

She plans to be involved with the Coalition for a Safe Healthy Lyons Township, as was Melka with an organization that tries to steer kids away from substance abuse.

 

 

 

Local News

Hon. Koula Fornier

Fournier resigns from TTO to become judge

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports The Lyons Township Trustees of Schools is accepting applications for a vacancy on their board, after Trustee Koula A. Fournier resigned earlier this month after being sworn-in as a Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. Fournier was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill the Maloney vacancy of…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Boys Hoops Wrap | Curie, Rice and Marist among area regional champs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent The original March Madness got underway last week across Illinois, and several area teams were crowned regional champions. Teams still alive in Class 4A are Marist and Curie, and in Class 3A are Brother Rice, De La Salle, Evergreen Park and Mount Carmel.   CLASS 4A Marist (29-4) cruised…

Evergreen Park senior Tre Dowdell crosses over a Hillcrest defender during the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional championship game on Feb. 23. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Basketball Class 3A Playoffs | Evergreen Park tops Hillcrest for first regional title since 1974

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Some Evergreen Park players have deep roots in the community, but it was a newcomer that carried the Mustangs to a monumental win. Senior guard Tre Dowdell put up a game-high 30 points and Mustangs rolled to a 74-60 win over Hillcrest in the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional…

SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview could be the site for Northwestern football games in 2024. Photo by Jeff Vorva

College Football | Northwestern football may play at SeatGeek

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent It appears that Chicago’s Big Ten team will be Bridgeview’s Big Ten team for at least one day. Maybe more. Northwestern has released its 2024 football schedule, but where the Wildcats will play their seven home games is unknown. Their home stadium, Ryan Field in Evanston, is undergoing a…

Nazareth senior Amalia Dray fight through a Kenwood defender during the Roadrunners’ 50-37 win in the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional title game. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Girls Basketball | Nazareth tops Homewood-Flossmoor, heads to Illinois Final Four for fifth time in past six seasons

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Nazareth head coach Ed Stritzel has built his Roadrunners into a powerhouse program with a defense-first philosophy that is carrying the reigning Class 3A state champions through another deep postseason run. Four nights after Nazareth held Kenwood to a season-low 37 points in the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional…

Mount Carmel's wrestling team celebrates a Class 3A championship. Photo courtesy of Mount Carmel High School

Postseason Roundup | Mount Carmel wrestling wins fifth state title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent During the regular season, only one wrestling team from Illinois beat Mount Carmel in a dual meet. Joliet Catholic got the better of the Caravan with a 38-27 victory on Jan. 18. That came two days after Mount Carmel lost to Crown Point (Indiana). The Caravan will be unable…

St. Laurence's Kathleen Martin gets off a shot against Hinsdale South in the Class 3A St. Ignatius Sectional on Feb. 22 in Chicago. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup | St. Laurence girls hoops has benchmark season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The St. Laurence girls basketball team’s historic season came to a close with a 42-29 loss to Hinsdale South at the Class 3A St. Ignatius Sectional on Feb. 22, but the Vikings hit some milestone’s in former Marist and Saint Xavier star Claire Austin’s first year as coach. The…

Joey’s Red Hots will open its seventh location on Monday at 9135 W. 159th St. in Orland Hills. (Photo by Steve Neuhaus)

Comings & Goings: Joey’s Red Hots to open Monday in Orland Hills

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Co-owner Anthony Nardo is not one to miss an opportunity to expand the reach of the Joey’s Red Hots empire. The Orland Park-based chain of restaurants has set Monday, February 26, as the opening date for its newest Joey’s location, in Orland Hills. Nardo and his partner Nick Iozzo jumped…

Sandburg players celebrate their Class 4A regional championship after defeating Romeoville in overtime on Feb. 15. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Girls Basketball | Sandburg outlasts Romeoville for first regional crown since 2016

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent It was the Eagles’ game to win and no one was going to change the outcome. On its home floor against a Romeoville team that had not lost this year, Sandburg used overtime to defeat the Spartans, 62-58, on Feb. 15 for the Class 4A Sandburg Regional title. It…

Evergreen Park guard Taylor Yeaman drives past Hinsdale South's Amelia Lavorato during the Hornets' regional final victory on Feb. 16. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Girls Basketball | Evergreen Park’s Scaduto signs off after career spanning four decades

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent The box score does not always give the full story of a game. Evergreen Park visited Hinsdale South on Feb. 16 with the hope of winning a regional championship.  Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the game did not go their way. The Hornets jumped to an 18-3 lead in the…

Neighbors

Capitol Briefs: Pritzker touts manufacturing training funding, announces cultural districts

Capitol Briefs: Pritzker touts manufacturing training funding, announces cultural districts

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS news@capitolnewsillinois.com Gov. JB Pritzker was in Normal Tuesday to call attention to recent state funding for manufacturing training academies – including at Heartland Community College.  The governor and college officials celebrated the new 45,000-square-foot facility that opened in January. It includes remodeled space to support programs such as robotics, HVAC, welding…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

With budget proposal and fiery address, Pritzker paints himself as progressive pragmatist

With budget proposal and fiery address, Pritzker paints himself as progressive pragmatist

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – In delivering his annual State of the State and budget address on Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker cast his administration as both progressive and pragmatic – a balance he’s worked to strike as his national profile has grown. Some elements of the governor’s proposed spending plan, like…

Budget reaction: Retailers, municipalities critical of Pritzker’s proposed tax changes

Budget reaction: Retailers, municipalities critical of Pritzker’s proposed tax changes

By ALEX ABBEDUTO, COLE LONGCOR  & JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois news@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – The annual process of negotiating the state budget kicked off Wednesday with Gov. JB Pritzker proposing a $52.7 billion spending plan that includes hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending and tax increases, particularly for businesses.  The governor’s proposal to…

Pritzker proposes over $2B in spending growth, backed by tax increases for corporations, sportsbooks

Pritzker proposes over $2B in spending growth, backed by tax increases for corporations, sportsbooks

By JERRY NOWICKI  Capitol News Illinois jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com Editor’s note: This story will be updated with more information on the budget and reaction from lawmakers.  SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday proposed growing state spending by over $2 billion in the upcoming fiscal year while making a handful of corporate, sports wagering and other tax…

Pritzker proposes $1.8B in spending growth, backed by tax increases for corporations, sportsbooks

Pritzker proposes $1.8B in spending growth, backed by tax increases for corporations, sportsbooks

By JERRY NOWICKI  Capitol News Illinois jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com Editor’s note: This story will be updated with more information on the budget and reaction from lawmakers.  SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday proposed growing state spending by about $1.8 billion in the upcoming fiscal year while making a handful of corporate, sports wagering and other tax…