15 years of helping people with mental illness

DEKALB – Bob Putz has always dreamed of helping others by holding a leadership position. In high school, he was elected president of the student council, and as a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, he was named Knight of the Year in 2003.

“Everybody has an ambition to serve others,” Putz said. “There are those that take it a step further.”

Putz took his ambition futher and achieved his dream when he founded the Consumer Advocacy Council of DeKalb County, or CACDC, on April 30, 1999. CACDC, located at 631 S. First St. in DeKalb, is a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing mental health services to people with mental health issues. CACDC celebrated its 15th anniversary on Wednesday, April 30, with an open house.

“Our goal is to help and keep persons with mental health issues in recovery,” Putz said. “The main purpose of the organization is recovery.”

To help its clients recover, CACDC provides grants to people who are often destitute and need funds urgently. Some examples of requests include funds for food, rent, utilities, medical needs, transportation help, and clothing essentials. Applicants complete a form and the CACDC executive officers decide whether to fulfill the request. The money is to provide emergency or short-term help, not monthly financial assistance.

Some people repay the grants once they are able to afford it. Others help by volunteering services and are eager to show their gratitude.

“Some of the stories are very emotional,” said Kathy Ostdick, an administrative assistant at DeKalb County Community Mental Health Board and an officer of CACDC. “The need is amazing. Unless you are involved in the high need cases, you just don’t know.”

Since its founding, CACDC has helped 263 people and has given out nearly $250,000 for their needs. CACDC received national recognition when it was featured in the 50th Anniversary Edition of the National Council Magazine in September 2013.

“Somehow, I know that I’m making a difference in someone’s life,” Putz said. “After 15 years, I can’t turn away. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.”

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