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A Program of Their Own…

It all started in July 1953 when children with developmental disabilities were not yet accepted into the public schools. Something had to be done. So, a group of parents and concerned friends took matters into their own hands. They borrowed the basement of the Park Ridge Methodist Church and thus began Avenues to Independence. Since then we’ve touched thousands of lives.

In the 1960's public education opened up, and when many of our school age children became part of the public school system we concentrated our efforts on programs for adults.

A Place to Work…

One of the most important programs for adults is our work program. The first program operated out of a converted home, where workers completed assembly and packaging jobs contracted with local businesses. As enrollment increased, we moved to larger, more industrial quarters. Today, we operate and own a 48,000 square foot industrial facility in Wheeling. Every day, more than 150 adults with developmental disabilities come to the work center and perform a wide range of assembly and packaging jobs for a variety of businesses.

During the late 1970’s, the work program expanded to include job support for
community employment, and currently more than 70 adults are in our job placement program.

A Place to Call Home…

Living as independently as possible in the community was also desired by many adults in our program. So early in the 1970's the Board of Directors began a campaign to construct an apartment building. Their efforts were rewarded in January 1978 when Sasser Family House in Park Ridge was opened, giving a home to 20 adults with moderate disabilities. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s we continued to expand our residential opportunities with the construction of Herbst Family House in Park Ridge, and the purchase of single family homes and townhomes in Des Plaines, Arlington Heights, Niles and Park Ridge.

In 1998 we welcomed to the Avenues family the 16 individuals, their families and friends from the Builders of Skills organization. Builders of Skills was a non-profit group that served adults with developmental disabilities and hearing impairments.

Today, Avenues serves more than 70 adults in our residential program, and another 100 are on our waiting list for services. Twenty eight families receive Home-Based Services.