South Chicago Parents & Friends to serve special needs from new Dolton location

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By Karen Abbott-Trimuel

DOLTON, Ill. (March 7, 2022) – In 1976, a small group of parents and friends who resided on the southeast side of Chicago recognized the need for options and opportunities for adult family members who had developmental disabilities. South Chicago Parents & Friends was created out of this vision, and now has a new location in Dolton.

With its new office located at 1624 E. 154th Street, South Chicago Parents & Friends, Inc. (SCPF) is a nonprofit corporation that supports individuals and their families throughout southeast Chicago and the southern suburbs. The organization’s mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It develops options and creates opportunities for individuals by providing support services, community living, and day and employment services.

South Chicago Parents & Friends’ new building is located at 1624 E. 154th Street in Dolton. (Photo: Karen Abbott-Trimuel)
South Chicago Parents
Thomas Schell, Executive Director of South Chicago Parents and Friends. (Photo: Karen Abbott-Trimuel)

Helping at a new location

“We’re here to help the community,” said Thomas Schell, Executive Director of SCPF.

The organization purchased its new facility in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit in March. So although it couldn’t open right away, the delay provided an opportunity to take time to renovate the building.

The Dolton facility is officially open for staff but awaiting for approval of licensing for the space allocated for their “community day service program.” For years, the organization’s community day program has supported families in Calumet City, South Holland, Lansing, and the surrounding area. Once the Dolton license is approved, the center will extend its services to the public.

“Our goal is to be up and running by the end of May,” Schell said.

The future day center room, with space for individuals to do all sorts of activities. (Photo: Karen Abbott-Trimuel)
South Chicago Parents
The future media room at the Dolton location. (Photo: Karen Abbott-Trimuel)

The Dolton location will be SCPF’s third community day center, adding to two Chicago locations. Additionally, two group homes in South Holland were open two years ago and called CILA (community-integrated living arrangements). CILA is funded by The Illinois Department of Human Services Developmental Disabilities Division.

Schell was joined by Jennifer Gray, administrative assistant for strategic planning, and Jen Bonifazi, administrative assistant for operations. Both are looking forward to opening soon and providing their services to the community.

South Chicago Parents
From left: Jennifer Gray, Thomas Schell, and Jen Bonifazi. (Photo: Karen Abbott-Trimuel)

Working towards improvement

Schell said, “We support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in achieving the outcomes they may have in life.”

The community day program works on any skill-building they may be interested in, such as work, artistic talents, arts, technology, or community integration.

Artwork created by participants of the program. (Photo: Karen Abbott-Trimuel)

“I’m most proud of seeing individuals that have moved from one service level to another. For example, we had individuals come to our day program and move on to competitive employment, which they weren’t ready for when they came to us. Also, seeing families happy with the services we provide to our consumers means we’re doing our jobs correctly. Our services have become essential for families, and the pandemic has taught us that,” Schell said.

Community support

SCPF has partnered with Lansing restaurant J.J. Kelley’s owner Jo-Ellyn Kelley to offer its Queen of Hearts Raffle as a fundraiser for program supplies that will be needed for the Dolton location when it’s fully open. The Queen of Hearts Raffle is a game of chance where a player can win a portion of the money raised in a jackpot and share a part of the jackpot with a not-for-profit organization. Every Wednesday, drawings are at 7 p.m. at J.J. Kelley’s located at 2455 Bernice Road in Lansing. Winnings are 50/50 – half to SCPF and the other half to the lucky winner. Players can purchase tickets during business hours at J.J. Kelley’s.

SCPF is always looking for volunteers to help support its mission. It is also looking to hire new employees for the organization. For more information, visit scpf-inc.org or call 773-734-2222.

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Karen Abbott Trimuel is a playwright, author, motivational speaker, and freelance journalist who has lived in Lansing for 17 years. She has always been passionate about writing and storytelling and enjoys meeting and inspiring people. She has established a reputation for writing quality entertainment through her stage plays, authored two books, "Ladies Night Unmasked" and "Check Your Assets and Know Your Value – A Woman's Guide to Becoming Her Authentic Self," and written an article "Are You Happy?" for the online writer's platform Writer UnBoxed. Karen is excited by writing great stories that uplift, inspire, and strengthen the Lansing community.