Finding Meaning in Everyday Activities with Rush University OT Student, Kimberly Lieberman 

August 18, 2021 | 4 min read
Kimberly volunteering at our Back to School event in Mandrake Park


My name is Kimberly Lieberman and I am an Occupational Therapy student at Rush University. Over the past 14 weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of working with families and individuals in Facing Forward’s Permanent Supportive Housing program through virtual and in-person group sessions, held three times a week.

Getting to know the clients and their interests was not only a rewarding experience, but an avenue for me to assist clients in key areas like building interpersonal skills needed to work through challenging life situations, health management and maintenance, exploring employment, and more.


What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapists (OT’s) help people of all ages increase their independence and participate in the daily tasks they want and need to do by:

    • Improving fine motor skills and other abilities needed to do everyday tasks
    • Increasing functional cognition (ability to pay bills, sort medications, maintain a schedule, etc.)
    • Overcoming self-care difficulties
    • And much more!


Group Sessions

My goal was to run group sessions that combined various aspects of occupational therapy and resident interests!

Virtual Cooking and Nutrition Workshops - Facing Forward Families had lots of fun being creative and incorporating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables to create caterpillars and cars before eating them!

BINGO! - A long-standing favorite pastime of Facing Forward residents at Sanctuary Place, I began hosting a weekly BINGO group that encouraged residents to safely come together as a community to participate in a leisure activity. This event always brought about lots of laughter and smiles!

Occupational Therapy Drop-in Clinic - During these sessions, residents stopped by for help with setting up medical appointments, navigating health insurance, managing medications, obtaining medical equipment, nutrition and exercise information, and employment support.

Weekly Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Meetings - Given OT's holistic view, I helped arrange and facilitate weekly NA Meetings hosted by an outside community member. These meetings allowed residents to come together and support one another on their journey to remain on a healthy path.


Parting Words

Throughout my time at Facing Forward, I had the opportunity to establish strong connections and relationships with many residents through both group and individual sessions. While it is my hope that I helped, encouraged, or inspired residents during my time at Facing Forward, I am truly the lucky one. The Facing Forward residents and staff members not only helped me grow professionally, but they showed me the importance of persevering and being kind to everyone because one never knows what others are going through.

Kimberly (top left) sits with Facing Forward clients during a group session


Facing Forward applauds Kimberly Lieberman for her commitment to improving the lives of families and individuals in our program during her doctoral capstone. We thank Kimberly for her warmhearted commitment to trauma-informed care, strength based practices, harm reduction, and safety.

Kimberly Lieberman is an Occupational Therapy Doctorate Student at Rush University. Prior to her summer at Facing Forward, she has volunteered and held leadership positions at various organizations throughout the Chicagoland area including the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, Imerman Angels, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children and ReVive Center for Housing and Healing. She is passionate about being an advocate for those who face occupational injustice.