As I write my article for this end-of-year edition of The Leaflet, I find myself very aware of how quickly time is flying by. It seems as if just yesterday I was writing my New Years’ resolutions for 2022.
Another feeling I’m mindful of is an anxiety around how long it is taking to provide persons with developmental disabilities the opportunities, experiences, and lives they deserve and have a right to. So much of an agencies’ ability to make the right things happen depends on dedicated, compassionate, and well supported employees.
At Garden Center we have worked hard with our fellow disability providers and state-wide associations to demand a higher rate of pay for our staff. It is a concern that though the Illinois legislature has increased our rates over the last few years, they forget that there were many years before that where we were not receiving any type of increase. I am very pleased and proud of the loyal, competent staff that we have and stand committed to continue to do right by them.
One of the things persons with disabilities really struggle with is housing; safe, affordable housing. For individuals with more moderate to severe needs, there are our group homes and Intermediate Care Facilities, but for those persons that could live independently with minimal support there’s very little that’s out there. So as part of the agency’s mission to advance the lives of all persons with disabilities, Garden Center Services is applying for funding from the Illinois Housing Development Authority that would finance the construction of a 16-unit apartment building that would offer affordable living accommodations to persons with disabilities. We won’t find out until next March if we are awarded the funding but we’ll sure keep you informed of what is happening.
Finally, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I want to express the deep gratitude that my wife Cindy and I, as well as our Board of Directors have, for all the goodness and financial support many of you provide throughout the year. Garden Center Services is much more than a provider of disability services. We strive to be a community of care for those individuals that are served through our programs, and also for all of you that touch their lives in any way. We truly wish you all days of health, happiness, and safety.