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Giving Back

Photos by Marcello Rodarte

Aspire President and CEO Jim Kales and board member Gary Kobus at the organization’s CareerLink training center in Hillside

Aspiring to excel

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Westchester-based organization features unique program helping people with developmental disabilities find their workplace niche

BY MIKE ELLIS

here are a number of organizations committed to aiding people in need, but not all of them have been serving out their mission for over 50 years. Based in nearby Westchester, Aspire has been providing services to people with developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, and their families since 1960. “I think our name sums up pretty well what we do—Aspire: we help kids and adults with a range of disabilities to aspire and reach for their dreams,” Aspire President and CEO Jim Kales said. “Everything we do is about helping kids

32 Hinsdale Magazine | www.hinsdale60521.com

and adults with disabilities to grow, learn and become a part of our communities.” Aspire offers diverse services to disabled individuals, ranging from comprehensive physical therapy programs to classroomtype instruction. It is a non-profit organization, assisting about 1,000 children and adults in 50 Chicagoland communities. Some children and adults come to Aspire facilities in the Western Suburbs and Chicago, while others receive in-home services. Kales said some of the children Aspire assists hail from low-income families in communities like Maywood and Bellwood. Due to financial constraints, these families have less access to providing the requisite supports to accommodating their children with special needs. Staff members are also

Partnering with Metropolis Coffee Company, Aspire CoffeeWorks is creating working opportunities for people with disabilities, while producing excellent coffee to boot. To learn more, visit www. aspirecoffeeworks.com.


Hinsdale Magazine January 2014