Anixter Center’s mission is to provide an array of services and support to help people with disabilities and related challenges live, learn, work, and play in the community. Located in Highland Park, the agency’s Adult Community Transition (ACT) program helps facilitate the transition of young adults with developmental disabilities from their safe, nurturing school environments to life in the broader community. This is accomplished through individualized employment and volunteer opportunities, case management, educational activities, socialization, and recreational activities developed to maximize their independence, giving these adults “the ability to soar”. The Foundation’s grant is used to support services Anixter provides for Highland Park and Highwood residents through the ACT program.
The Center for Enriched Living (CEL) enhances and enriches the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities – from youth through adulthood. CEL provides a space for their members to grow and learn new social, educational, and independent living skills with a community of friends and a world of opportunities. CEL celebrates the unique contributions of everyone, where all voices are heard and personal choices are respected. Highland Park Community Foundation’s grant supports a variety of programs in which Highland Park and Highwood youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities participate as CEL members. These include virtual and in-person programs at CEL’s facility in Riverwoods, via Zoom, and in area group homes and schools.
Glenkirk serves individuals with intellectual disabilities. Programs include: residential and employment/day services; psychological and behavior health therapies; respite; and home-based services. They operate a social enterprise of secure document destruction business. Glenkirk’s ultimate objective is to have the individuals they service continue to grow, achieve increasingly greater levels of independence and autonomy, and work and live in their communities, impacting the community as much as it impacts them. HPCF’s grant will be used to support behavioral health services for Highland Park and Highwood residents Glenkirk serves at a Behavioral Health Clinic in the community.
Keshet is one of a few organizations in the United States where children with disabilities can begin programs at the age of three and continue to receive support throughout adulthood. Keshet’s programs ensure that those with disabilities have the opportunity to experience iconic activities that define growth and development—graduating from kindergarten, making a best friend, playing on a sports team, going to camp, finding a job, getting a first apartment, and more. Through educational, recreational, vocational, and residential programs, Keshet serves nearly 600 people with disabilities each year through 75 different programs primarily in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. With a focus on inclusion, an additional 4,000 school and camp peers, volunteers, family members, coworkers, friends, and staff are impacted by Keshet annually. HPCF funding supports Highland Park and Highwood residents who participate in Keshet’s MY Life program, which provides supportive housing, in the community, for adults with disabilities.
The Friendship Circle’s mission is to empower today’s teens to bridge the gap between families of children with special needs and the rest of the community. Volunteers offer friendship as well as social and educational experiences, enriching lives and reaping the rewards of selfless giving. The Friendship Circle extends a helping hand to families who have children with special needs and involves them in a full range of social and Judaic experiences. The Circle’s unique formula introduces teenage volunteers to the children and their families, and through the shared experiences, all are enriched. The Foundation’s grant supports weekly home visits to children/young adults with disabilities by trained teen volunteers. The teen and child play games, do puzzles, bake cookies, or whatever they find most enjoyable to do together. The time spent together breaks down barriers between those who are differently abled and provides essential respite to parents, who are often full-time caretakers. It also supports CommUNITY Circle, which brings individuals of all abilities together for group community service projects. These gatherings promote inclusion, build self-esteem, and contribute to the work of other local nonprofit organizations. Past gatherings have included assembling toiletry kits for individuals experiencing homelessness for Connections for the Homeless, visiting the elderly at Sunrise of Highland Park, stocking shelves at multiple local food pantries, and a Highland Park challah bake & take, where participants baked one loaf of bread from scratch for themselves and took another home for a hungry neighbor.