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Garden Center Services


content on an ongoing basis can have a detrimental effect on one’s psyche and soul.

Santa Gerry & reindeer Cindy made a Christmas day appearance at all the homes


The recent incredible generosity demonstrated in response to our Giving Tuesday program, in addition to the outpouring of kindnesses we experienced from so many during the Christmas season, has truly touched our hearts and lifted our spirits at the end of a difficult year. So often when you turn on the news you are bombarded by stories driven by bitterness, aggression, craving, and unlawful activity. Exposure to this adverse

Look for the good in every person and every situation. You’ll a l m o s t a l way s find it.

-Brian Tracy

Please take the time to read the article within this issue of the Leaflet that identifies just some of the individuals, families, and groups that have liberally given of their time and resources over the past few months. It is so important to rest in the knowledge that there are really decent

people among us and that every day we can see expressions of basic goodness if we just look for them. We are hopeful that this new year of 2021 will be a time of healing and positive change in so many ways. You have our deepest appreciation and gratitude for choosing to walk this journey with us. We are starting down the path of vaccination. Initially, Stickney Township is providing vaccinations to employees working or living in the Burbank area. From there, they will vaccinate our consumers living in group homes in Burbank. We are on lists with both Cook County Public Health as well as Walgreens and continued on page 4

GARDEN CENTER FAMILY WHAT IS HAPPENING AT COMMUNITY DAY SERVICES? Direct Support Professionals from the Garden Center Community Day Services program continue to bring their skills to GCS homes while our day service sites remain closed due to the pandemic. Over the last two months, we have focused on topics including sign language, amazing holiday crafts, and delicious cooking projects. We learned how people celebrate the holidays of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. We learned about Native American culture as well as about other countries including Ecuador, Kenya, Romania, and Greece. We continue to practice meditation and yoga and even tried out some new exercises like The Elf Workout! Unfortunately, doing all of these activities at home, no matter how much fun we have, just isn’t the same as being at day program with the dear friends we have been missing for so long. We are excited and hopeful with the vaccine now becoming available and look forward to a time in the near future when we can all be together again.


See our progress on GCS’s two Giving Tuesday matching grants!


100 donations of $125 or more will earn GCS a $125 match for each from the Coleman Foundation!

! WOW 148!



Donations of any amount will be matched by an anonymous donor up to 20K! $65,579

Garden Center’s Giving Tuesday campaign was a resounding success! Thanks to you, Garden Center met the targets for both of our matching grants. After the final checks arrived, our 2020 Giving Tuesday total was over $98,000 more than double what we raised last year! These monies will be essential in helping us get through the next few months as we work our way back to what we hope will be a more normal 2021. Thank you! A special thank you to The Coleman Foundation and our anonymous donor whose generous gifts helped make this possible.

WE HAVE MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR You can’t turn on the TV, browse social media, or speak to another person really, without hearing something about how unusual this past year has been; that it’s been unprecedented, weird, surreal, frustrating, dumpster fire-ish... and all of those things are true. But this year has also been one of growth, of care and compassion, of thinking about and giving to others. Garden Center has seen an outpouring of love and support for the people we serve like we have never seen before. Many of those who have always supported us continued to do so in even more amazing and creative ways. And over these past months, many new people have joined us to help lift up our GCS family. We couldn’t be more grateful for all of you and we’d like to take a moment to thank a few of these amazing supporters who helped make this holiday season a little bit brighter for those we serve. The Kunkes Family has always gone above and beyond for the people we serve especially during the holidays. Every year they host parties for those who don’t have family to spend the holiday with or those who just can’t be with their family for one reason or another. The Kunkes’ prepare amazing meals, plan fun activities, and even coordinate with Santa himself to drop off gifts. This year however, was very different. Many more people weren’t able to go home for the holiday and no one from outside was able to come in. But the Kunkes Family didn’t let that stop them from spreading some Christmas cheer. In November, Annmarie (of the Kunkes clan) started a goFundMe page which raised over $8,500! These monies were used to cater Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for all Garden Center homes, buy a blanket and pillow for each person, and purchase gifts for nineteen people who don’t have family to exchange gifts with. They used the remaining funds to fulfill a wish list from each home, purchasing much needed items including new towels, dishes, crock-pots, mixers, a vacuum cleaner, and much more. At The Office Sports Bar & Grill in Crestwood donated 50 delicious meals for those we serve. Father Greg and St. Fabian Church donated holiday meals and $1500 in gift cards which we used to purchase gifts. A special thank you to Paula Kudlinski and Loretta Barnes for making this generous gift possible! The Fiedler Family and the organization Abide in Me adopted the Keeler Home several years ago through Garden Center’s Adopt-a-Home program. In addition to all the things they do throughout the year to make the home comfortable and beautiful, they also make sure the ladies who live there have a wonderful holiday. This year, the Fiedlers and Abide in Me purchased gifts for all of the ladies and also purchased needed items for the home including an air-fryer and a new Ninja blender! For the past several years The Withgott Family has adopted a person we serve who does not have family and made sure his Christmas was wonderful. The Knights of Columbus #14553 have made a tradition of purchasing gifts for everyone at Kolin House. SRCA also has an annual tradition of purchasing Christmas gifts for everyone at Garden Center’s Minnick House. Stacey O’Brien, a former GCS employee, purchased holiday gifts for everyone at all of our Garden Center homes this year.

We would like to thank these amazing Garden Center supporters and so many more of you, who made this year one to remember not because of what was wrong, weird, or disappointing, but instead, for what you helped make right, sweet, and wonderful.


Growing dignity and independence

MORE NEWS Self-Advocacy Team Presents at Speak Up Speak Out Summit This past November, a group of Garden Center Services’ Advocacy group members presented at the Annual Arc of Illinois Speak Up Speak Out Summit. Joshua, Melissa, Adam, Becca, and Katie (dubbing themselves The GCS Dream Team) worked with Shannon O. for several weeks to put together their presentation, Being the Best Advocate That You Can Be.

8333 S. Austin Ave. Burbank, IL 60459 10444 S. Kedzie Chicago, IL 60655 phone 773-941-4151 email info@gardencenterservices.org web www.GardenCenterServices.org


John Dahlke

Vice President

Joan Strainis


Anthony Di Miele


Florence Head


Tom Beemsterboer

The group submitted their presentation idea in early August and after hearing their presentation was selected, they got right to work. Meeting weekly on Zoom from September through November the group crafted their presentation. Each took a part to create themselves and then met with the group to put the pieces together. In normal years, they would have traveled to Springfield to present in person at the conference, but this year it all happened on Zoom with over 7000 online conference viewers! Congratulations GCS Dream Team!

Donna Blair Rep. Fran Hurley Dave Rauen Ava Rhodes - Smith Maria Zeimen, OSF

OUR MISSION Advancing lives of connection, contribution, and meaning for persons with developmental disabilities and the individuals that support them.

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should have a date soon for the rest of our employees and people living in the group homes, all who are in the initial 1A group. We had hoped this would move along more quickly than it has, however we’re advocating strongly for GCS to get the dates we need for this to happen. Our hope was to re-open day program on Feb 1st. This now seems unlikely given the delay in vaccinating and the limited number of community people who were able to attend. We will keep you posted here and truly look forward to seeing everyone at the day program soon! In closing, Cindy and I, on behalf of our fine staff, the wonderful individuals we serve, and our dedicated Board of Directors, would like to wish each of you a safe, healthy, and joy full New Year. Peace,

Profile for Garden Center Services

Garden Center Services Newsletter THE LEAFLET JAN/FEB 2021  

Garden Center Services Newsletter

Garden Center Services Newsletter THE LEAFLET JAN/FEB 2021  

Garden Center Services Newsletter