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Where Help and Hope Build Useful Lives

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.

Director’s Message

The last year has been a tough one for Illinoisans who rely on social services. We have, during this time, downsized and closed homes, made the tough decision to close Secure Recycling Services, and postpone other important projects. If you look around, this is the norm in the charitable and social services world today. What I want to tell you about is not what you already observe, but the things you might not see.

You are all aware that the State of Illinois has not been a consistent partner in meeting our mission. We have gone nearly a decade without any new funding. What you might not know, or see, is the people and businesses that have stepped in to fill the gap in both big and small ways. We rely on the state, but it is the support of our community that keeps us going.

Families and our community helped us build a new basketball court. Families and communities helped us implement a new learning curriculum in our Day Services program. Local governments support our Early Intervention program and have given us grants to update and improve residential homes.

Local businesses, even those responsible for the production of this report, have worked with us to reduce our cost, and in some cases donate their services, helping us stretch our dollars. This is a sacrifice on their part, but they do it in support of the people we serve. The love and generosity our community shows for people with disabilities is amazing, and unfortunately, not as common in other parts of the world.

Our community includes our staff who work in a sometimes difficult environment that is required to be open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Some of them have been with us for decades. Their dedication is amazing! A staff workgroup recently completed an employee-driven update of our mission, vision, and values to keep them relevant and meaningful to them and their colleagues.

You may notice Kreider Services in television ads, on Facebook, or the web. As the world has changed, we are changing, too. We have had to find new ways to fill job vacancies and let people know what we do in our programs. These short ads give you a small glimpse of the joy we find in our work.

I’m amazed at the financial gifts given daily and weekly. There is so much we are able to accomplish because of these generous gifts. Gifts are opening doors. Clients are trying new experiences.

Even as we deal with generational changes in our workforce, communication changes, and historic disruptions in Springfield, there are a few things we can count on as we enter our 65th year – our community, our clients, and our staff. With the power of these folks, we will make it another 65 years and continue to meet the challenge of our mission to “provide meaningful supports to people with disabilities to live, work and participate in their community.”

All the best and thanks for supporting Kreider Services.

Stories of Success


Transitioning from Home


Striving for Independence


Keeps Rolling Along


Transitioning from Home

For most of her life, Dana has lived with her family. Aging and looking for a possible alternative to her staying at home, Dana’s mom began exploring the possibility of a group home for her daughter. She had scheduled visits to a group home of Kreider and even stayed overnight. Even though Dana has attended Day Training program of Kreider Services for 21 years, the transition into a community living home is as difficult for the adult child as it is for the family. Dana is learning new skills – cooking, laundry and shopping for instance – while her mom is coping with not having her at home every day. Helping Dana with her new transition into community living is having familiar faces in her new group home including a close friend that she now will be living with.

Striving for Independence

A year ago, she was in a nursing home with limited opportunities for independence. That all changed when Maria became a client of Kreider and began attending the Day Services program. During her short time in Day Services, Maria has learned three new jobs, each of which have 3 or 4 steps to understand. “Within an hour of being introduced to a new job,” staff explain “she will know how to do the entire job. One of those jobs – a switch for a trimmer – requires concentration and fine motor skills. Maria mastered that task.” In addition to work, Maria is thriving in joining different social groups. She is singing in Kreider’s choir and has also joined the local Kiwanis Aktion Club. Her family is amazed at her progress, as is her staff. “She is getting comfortable in this setting and as a result we are seeing her personality come out. She’s even directing other client workers. — ” Asked recently what was keeping her back, she responded quickly and straightforward that ‘darn walker.’ Given her determination and with help from physical therapy, that may soon be left in the dust as Maria moves forward.

Keeps Rolling Along

Rolling along like the wheels on his bicycle, Dana is continuing his way down the path to independence and living on his own. Although a staff member stops by to check on him and assist when needed, Dana is living on his own in an apartment that he moved into last October. He’s responsible, like many of us, for deciding on what he’s going to have for dinner, cleaning his apartment, taking his medicine and finding a ride to work when snow keeps him from riding his bike. During the past year Dana, has checked several major accomplishments off his list. In addition to moving out on his own, Dana has realized full time employment – he’s working in a local kitchen five days a week – and passed his driver’s license exam! He is a work in progress and he’s not done yet. Dana is working to become his own guardian so he can get his driver’s license. He’s volunteering in the community and has joined the Kiwanis Aktion Club.


Its doors swung open for the first time on March 25, 2015, as Florissa went from a concept to reality as a collaborative entity to help children with developmental, behavioral, social and emotional needs here in northwest Illinois. Since that time, steps of progress have been made by children, while their families have taken advantage of art, music, yoga therapies, and summer camps, in addition to the regular service offerings.

Parents have embraced Florissa as witnessed by their comments:

“The art and music sessions gave my son a sense of belonging.”

“It was good that there are actual classes at Florissa rather than just receiving handouts.”

“The Friendship groups have helped my daughter with many aspects of how to make and sustain friendships. She couldn’t wait to attend each week.”

“My daughter loved coming to the SibShop group (an offering for siblings of people with disabilities). She learned how to deal with her special brother. She is much more compassionate with him and now wants to help him in all areas.”

Quality Indicators

Yearly, the families and guardians of those who we are privileged to serve, provide critical feedback regarding the programs and services provided to their son, daughter, brother or sister. This feedback is provided via the annual Satisfaction Survey. A re-cap of the 2016 Fiscal Year Survey shows improvement in each of the areas shown. The greatest gain was made in responses to the question of whether or not Kreider Services, as an agency, was meeting its Mission of “Providing meaningful supports to people with disabilities to live, work and participate in their community.”

Financial Summary

Challenging. If a single word was used to capture the essence of the financial picture for FY’16, challenging would summarize nicely last year’s overall fiscal outlook. Revenue dropped by $1.169 million, with the largest drop in revenue coming from public Aid, Other Grants (AmeriCorps and Autism) and Production & Recycling. On the expense side of the ledger, $1.107 million in expenses were trimmed from the annual budget from $19,582 million in FY’15 to $18.474 million in FY”16. Overall, the operating budget of FY’16 had a deficit of $909,214 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.