Each year is a journey of its own. 2017 represents the start of the 65th year of operation of Kreider Services. It’s a great time to look back and appreciate where we have come from, and give thanks to the pioneers who led the charge in the founding of what was then known as the North Central Illinois Association for the Aid of Retarded Children (NCIAARC), the forerunner of the organizations that would become Kreider Services and the Kreider Alliance as they are known today.
Pioneering parents and guardians made it clear that they wanted a local solution for their son or daughter, and refused to “institutionalize” them. The focus of this crusading group was to develop a school that would help children with intellectual or developmental disabilities. At this time, public schools did not offer special education classes as part of their curriculum. With a successful grassroots effort, NCIAARC was formalized on September 17, 1952 with 37 persons voting to establish the non-profit.
Educational classes started that September at the VFW in Dixon with former public school teacher Mrs. J.T. Winder, working with four children. A music teacher, Mrs. Winder often used music as a tool to engage and teach her students. The association’s stay at the VFW would be short as classes would move to the Illinois National Guard Armory on West Everett in Dixon in November, 1952. The Armory was home for NCIAARC until 1954 when the nonprofit would make a purchase that would set their course for the next two decades.
A public auction of Truman School was held in the Spring of 1954, with NCIAARC having the winning bid of $7,725, made possible through donations that poured in from eight states. Volunteers committed hundreds of hours of their own time to help with the rehabilitation of the school. Truman School would open its doors in September, 1954.
A donation from Neva Kreider of Sterling in 1972 made it possible for the agency to purchase a building in the Dixon Airport Industrial Park. In her honor, the newly purchased building was named Kreider Rehabilitation Center. Faced with the complexities of operating two rapidly growing facilities, the NCIAARC board of directors voted in 1974 to divide the organization into two separate corporations – Kreider Services, Inc. and Lee County Association for the Handicapped. An estate gift from Mrs. Edna Briscoe made it possible for the development of the current 500 Anchor Road site, which would house all operations starting in April, 1977.
Progress continues today with the development of quality programs for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Recent years have witnessed the creation of Florissa, the center for children (0-18 years) with developmental, behavioral, social or emotional needs. The heading for this section of the Annual Report – “Where Help and Hope Build Useful Lives” – was borrowed from a brochure from the early days of Kreider Services. We will, in the coming year, strive to continue that initial focus of helping build useful and meaningful lives.