Highland Park Neighbors Magazine Articles


Supporting Individuals with Disabilities in Our Community

Creating conditions that help community members thrive is an important aspect of Highland Park Community Foundation’s (HPCF’s) work in Highland Park and Highwood. The Foundation is thus proud to have awarded grant funding in 2023 to six organizations that support individuals with disabilities who live in our community: Anixter Center*, Arts of Life, Center for Enriched Living, Collaborative Community Housing Initiative, Glenkirk, and Keshet. While we include information about only four in this article, we are extremely grateful to each of them for all they do to help residents with disabilities.

Keshet supports children and adults with disabilities through enriching experiences as well as educational, recreational, vocational, and residential programs. “Keshet works tirelessly to create a community of belonging where people of all abilities can learn, play, work and live together. When we first set out to offer residential services for adults with disabilities in 2015, Highland Park was the ideal community with quality homes, friendly neighbors, and easily accessible recreation, shopping, and transportation. Since then, Keshet has added three more residences and now supports 18 adults who happily call Highland Park home. Keshet’s residential program is supported through State funding and private donors, including the generosity and on-going commitment of the HPCF. HPCF’s partnership has enabled Keshet to continually enhance the programs and services offered to our residents and other disabled adults in the area,” said Jamie Lake, Chief Communications Officer at Keshet.

HPCF Grant Recipient Keshet

In an exciting development, Keshet’s relationship with Highland Park will grow in extraordinary ways this year. Keshet just moved its adult day program to Highland Park and will be relocating its high school transition class to Highland Park in the fall. As Jamie explained, “Our connection to Highland Park and HPCF will flourish in 2024. In addition to adding two more residents to our group homes, Keshet’s adult day services moved from Skokie to Highland Park in the first week of January. Forty-six adults now spend their days with Keshet in Highland Park engaging in community life; volunteering; exploring their interests; and participating in vocational training and employment.”

HPCF looks forward to Keshet becoming an even more integral part of the community both for the residents it serves and for residents looking to volunteer or for employment. “As our programs in Highland Park continue to grow, we will be looking for more adult volunteers who want to share their talents and job coaches. There will be a need for additional job placements as well,” Jamie added.

Glenkirk, another 2023 grantee, has been serving people with disabilities since 1954. With the ultimate goal of growth and independence, Glenkirk offers residential and employment services, behavioral health therapies, and a variety of home-based services. “Glenkirk’s mission is to provide quality, lifetime supports and services which empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to participate fully in all areas of community life. Glenkirk accomplishes this mission by providing housing, day, and employment services, respite, and behavioral health services to over 200 individuals in Lake and northern Cook Counties,” explained Kim Berenberg, CEO of Glenkirk.

Specific to the services provided for members of our community, Kim added “HPCF plays a crucial role in advancing two vital programs at Glenkirk – our Next Generation Day Program and our Behavioral Health Clinic. The Next Generation Day Program offers participants an immersive community-based day program experience focused on adult learning and healthy lifestyles, enabling adults with intellectual disabilities to stay active, make friends, and connect with their community. The Behavioral Health Clinic is a Medicaid-licensed program providing essential mental health services for Medicaid-enrolled individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The clinic offers counseling, medication management, community support services, and daily living in-home services, promoting independence and well-being.” She further explained, “HPCF’s backing is especially critical as Glenkirk, while governmentfunded, faces a significant gap between funding and the actual cost of providing quality services. This support ensures the success and impact of these programs.”

HPCF Grant Recipient Glenkirk

From childhood to adulthood, The Center for Enriched Living (CEL) enhances the lives of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities by providing safe spaces for growth and learning and fostering social and educational experiences that help develop independent living skills. “We are so grateful for the funding CEL receives from the HPCF to provide opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to experience life’s possibilities. CEL’s social, employment, mental health, and adult day programs empower nearly 400 members, with more than two dozen hailing from Highland Park. This grant directly supports your neighbors, like Howard, who thrives in our Tuesday Night Art program where he expresses himself beautifully through art. We are grateful for HPCF partnering with CEL to empower people with disabilities to realize their greatest potential, thrive within the community, and achieve their hopes and dreams,” said Herb Washington, CEO at Center for Enriched Living.

Highland Park Resident Howard at The Center for Enriched Living, a HPCF Grant Recipient

Focusing on the importance of the arts in enriching residents’ lives, Arts of Life offers unique and creative opportunities to individuals with disabilities that allow them to express themselves in accessible ways with their peers. “Highland Park Community Foundation’s investment in our In-Home Community Program is playing an essential role in growing our capacity to support artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Highland Park. Disabled people experience loneliness, low perceived social support, and social isolation at significantly higher rates than people without a disability. Through this program, we provide a bridge – helping each artist individually to hone their creative practice and connect with peers virtually on a weekly basis. Together with the HPCF we are working to reach these artists in innovative new ways,” said Anne Cauley, Director of Development and Communications at Arts of Life

We are delighted to be able to provide grants that fill funding gaps for organizations that enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities, which, in turn, enriches our entire community. The Foundation Board thanks our donors as well as the City of Highland Park who make these grants possible and looks forward to continuing our support well into the future.

* Anixter Center ceased its operations for which HPCF grant funding was provided in December of 2023, and its grant funding was prorated accordingly