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Thank You for Your Support in FY14!

Dear Search Supporters,

June 30th marked the end of the fiscal year here at Search, and so I wanted to take a moment to share program highlights from the past year. With 40 different locations throughout the city and suburbs, we continue to experience growth and to infuse our programs with new initiatives with a sharp focus on community integration:


- Visibility Arts expanded from Mt. Prospect to our Chicago and Waukegan Adult Learning Program sites, serving an additional 44 individuals with this immersive visual arts program. Visibility Artists participated in 10 community art shows and installations, where they had an opportunity to show and sell their work. We also developed a framework for the launch of a Visibility Arts Advisory Board and Visiting Artist program, to engage the broader community in this work. (Please contact Tina Zemen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have interest in learning more about these opportunities!)

- We expanded our Community Employment Services through the launch of a Vocational Readiness Curriculum, development of an Employment Workgroup and establishment of a new contract with the Division of Rehabilitation Services to support additional community employment placements.

- Clinical Services expanded with significant assistance from interns and a new full-time position to provide targeted support and training. We increased the therapy team across all Adult Learning Program sites, expanding the number and type of individual and group services offered. Current therapies include art therapy, pet therapy, horticulture therapy, dance, yoga, music and psychodrama. Therapies incorporate sign language, picture boards and iPads to assist with communication on an ongoing basis.

- We expanded small and flexible residential options. Search opened its first intermittent CILA in February, providing support so that an individual is able to continue to reside in his own apartment in the community. We also opened our second 4-person CILA so that four individuals who previously resided in a state operated developmental center are able to live in the community.

- We continued to invest in technology, with the establishment of new computer labs at our Chicago and Mt. Prospect Adult Learning Programs (our Waukegan site is up next!) and increasing use of iPads throughout programs.

- We responded to the need for more flexible use of program space with renovations at both our Chicago and Waukegan Adult Learning Program sites to provide more discrete environments for a wider variety of services. Plans are underway for renovations at our Mt. Prospect site in FY15, to accommodate the expansion of Visibility Arts, a sensory room, gross motor space and continued growth of technology, among other program initiatives.

- We continued to build the Glidepath Curriculum, which now includes sign language and twenty-five new community instruction guides designed to provide practical tools for community outings tied to classroom instruction.

- We merged with jjslist.com, which now operates as a social enterprise of Search, and significantly expanded our self-advocacy tools. The Disability Awareness Players conducted 14 performances for a total of 785 individuals and trained participants how to interact with people with disabilities with competence and confidence. An additional 800 students participated in "Hop on the Bus to Independence" workshops, designed to increase use of fixed route public transportation.

- We launched No Boundaries in Evanston in October of 2013, a private pay program with a sharp focus on employment and community life. Current enrollment has grown to twelve individuals with an additional eight students projected to join in the fall.

- We participated in the Care Campaign, a statewide advocacy effort with the goal of increasing wages for direct service providers throughout Illinois. This included participation in a postcard campaign, electronic advocacy, personal visits to our legislators and the engagement of our Board of Directors on this issue.

It was a very busy year here at Search! In the coming months, we plan to build on all that has been accomplished and to invest in additional opportunities to support a wider variety of programs throughout all of our sites. We look forward to keeping you up to date on these developments!

Sincerely,

Beth Valukas
Executive Director

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