People need help coping with life’s challenges. If we’re lucky, our family and friends notice when we’re not handling our lives very well, when we’ve lost hope, or take up dangerous habits. Often when they do notice, they’re unable to help or effect change. 

That’s when someone needs to do something.

This community is fortunate to have a valuable resource at 120 S. Marion St. in Oak Park — Thrive Counseling Center, a 115-year-old agency that serves more than 2,000 people per year. Thrive provides mental health support to a local business executive who is lethargic and depressed after losing his job, a student so obsessed with grades and social pressure that she starts skipping class and making cuts on her arms, a neighbor’s son who drops out of college and appears to be high all day, the older lady at the corner who shuts her blinds and stops leaving the house. Thrive also helps a person with schizophrenia transition to supported living after hospitalization. Its crisis workers accompany police to a home where someone has threatened suicide. 

Thrive’s efforts have a positive, powerful ripple effect in our community. 

“Our community is diverse and our clients reflect the same,” says Nina Allen, president/CEO of Thrive. “We see clients from every social and economic demographic. People we treat are people who are living their lives to the best of their abilities, who are active in treatment, and who want things to be better,” Allen explains. “People can and do recover from mental illness.”

Thrive staffs 28 full-time and 13 part-time employees, including therapists, case managers, doctors, and a 24/7 crisis team, having come a long way from the original vision of its 19th Century Club female founders who were inspired by the work of social activists such as Jane Addams to strengthen their own communities through volunteer work. Not surprisingly, the need for Thrive’s services has grown over the years.

With that growth comes the need for greater financial support from the community.

Join Thrive at the Oak Park Country Club on May 3 for its annual Spring Benefit where the first Spirit of Thrive Award will be given to Carolyn Poplett, whose service to the organization for more than 50 years has helped it grow and prosper. She steered the agency through rough financial times and helped shape its vision as a community resource for everyone. 

Poplett is a past president of Thrive’s board and a celebrated local author. She was vice president of the Midwest Regional Council of Family Service Agencies and served on the national board. 

Locally, Poplett was president of the 19th Century Charitable Association from 1974 to 1976, and served on the boards of the Friends of the Library, the Infant Welfare Society, and the Senior Citizens Center. She is also past president of the American Opera Society of Chicago. 

Thrive celebrates Poplett’s unwavering commitment to bettering her community through volunteer work, her talent as a writer and historian, her grace and compassion, her energetic leadership, and her contagious enthusiasm for a good cause. 

Poplett shares Thrive’s belief that people of all ages deserve to experience positive mental health and emotional well being. Please honor Poplett’s vision by attending the event — or making a donation through the website

Everyone deserves to Thrive.

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