Pioneers Life Members meet with Park Lawn

 In Illinois Chapter News

The AT&T Life Member Pioneers recently met with Park Lawn Executive Director, Steve Manning and Mark Dynia, Marketing Manager. Pictured from left to right are Life Member Council Board Members Gary Miles, Gerry Steffgen, Jackie Steffgen and South Area Life Member Club members Nancy McConnell and Mary Lou Barrett. Steve and Mark explained the many projects and opportunities within Park Lawn and we were given a tour of their facilities, the vocational workshop and one of their seven Community Integrated Living (CIL) homes. The Pioneers immediately saw where we could play a vital role in supporting Park Lawn’s efforts and we are moving forward.

Park Lawn Charity was founded in 1955 by a small group of parents who challenged national and state legislature that only provided funding for the education of children deemed “educable.” Recognizing untapped potential in their children, these parents were determined to provide opportunities to help them lead active and productive lives. Parents began teaching their children in classroom space donated by a church in Evergreen Park. Other families seeking similar services joined them.

In 1968, State funding became available to hire professional staff and construct the first permanent school facility in Oak Lawn. Named after the communities of its origin, Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn, Park Lawn soon became a leading resource of hope and opportunity for individuals with developmental disabilities. In 1972, an addition was constructed to provide adult services. Further expansion came to meet changing needs and increased capabilities of program participants. The addition of the vocational workshop and residential facilities soon followed. Today, over 500 individuals enrolled in Park Lawn’s programs have the opportunity to pursue a life of productivity, independence and happiness, the same as any other individual.

Park Lawn believes that people with disabilities earnestly wish to live a normal life. They want to go to school, hold a job, have a place where they can live comfortably and they want a full and active social life. Within this context Park Lawn provides adult developmental training, vocational services, supported employment, residential opportunities and recreational activities. All are backed with professional staff support.

Park Lawn Mission is to provide services that promote independence, choice and access to community living for people with disabilities. The AT&T Life Member Pioneers have formed a partnership with Park Lawn Charity and we already have projects in the planning stages. We will be donating and assembling rocking chairs that will be placed in their CIL Homes and workshop. We also plan to purchase and donate BBQ’s and picnic tables which will need to be assembled. Once the BBQ’s and picnic tables are in place, we will be hosting picnics as well. A lot is planned and there is still so much that we can do. We are putting out a call to all our fellow Pioneers and friends to join us in “answering the call.” Please contact us if you are interested in lending a hand and learning more!


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