Avenues to Independence
How it all Began

Avenues to Independence opened its doors in 1953 in the basement of a Park Ridge church, because a group of parents believed things should be different for their sons and daughters with developmentaldisabilities. The children were not readily accepted into the public schools, and the parents believed their children should have an education, while remaining a part of the community, close to home, among family and friends.

And that’s what happened.

By the 1970’s, thanks to the efforts of our founding parents, and parents like them across the nation, children with developmental disabilities were given the right to have a public education. When that happened, Avenues concentrated its efforts on programs for adults.

Today we offer a variety of services to more than 200 people with developmental disabilities and their families. They benefit from residential, vocational, recreational and community living opportunities.

We are growing and better than ever as we continue to redefineourselves and plan for the future. In 2003 we opened a state of the art work center in Wheeling, which provides employment to 170 people. Later that year we moved Avenues’ headquarters to a new home in the heart of Park Ridge, the Jane and Albert Wohlers Center. It is the first time in our history that we have a place where our program participants and staff, volunteers, parents, and friends can gather to learn about and support people with developmental disabilities.

For 62 years Avenues to Independence has given people withdisabilities the chance to lead more independent and productivelives. We thank the hundreds of volunteers, families, staff members and donors who have made Avenues what it is today. But most of all, we say thank you to the people Avenues’ serves. They are truly an inspiration to us all.