What began as a small project for six individuals with disabilities in Joliet, Illinois has grown today into a large progressive agency that currently provides services to over 1,000 people with disabilities each day at six community locations and numerous residential sites in Will and Kankakee Counties.
In March 1969 several concerned citizens in Joliet, including a nurse, a minister, a physical therapist, a teacher, and a number of parents of individuals with disabilities, chartered the Will County Sheltered Workshop. They were responding to the unfortunate fact that, at the time, few opportunities existed for adults with disabilities. The organizers believed that by working for a real paycheck, people with disabilities could become contributing, participating members of the community. Participants worked on subcontract jobs for various companies and learned the value of work and compensation.
Starting out small, the workshop found itself growing rapidly, and in a few years, began placing some of its workers in jobs in the community. The organization also took a big leap and initiated residential services for people with disabilities. Realizing that the nature of services at the agency was expanding beyond the workshop, the name was changed to Cornerstone Services in 1986.
A few years later, the agency began offering counseling and therapy for people with mental health needs, and soon was providing them with housing options as well. Emphasis on work continued to shift away from the workshop and toward employment in the community whenever possible. People unable to work had a wide array of daytime training activities designed to boost their community living skills. With every passing year, Cornerstone has developed new avenues for people with disabilities to explore and participate in the world around them.
An agency that began with just a handful of staff and program participants now employs over 600 people and provides services to well over 1,000 individuals each day. And it continues to grow. In 2009 the agency opened its first group home for children with developmental disabilities in the Joliet area, and now operated three such homes. Cornerstone began its expansion into Kankakee County five years ago, by helping people with disabilities in the area find and keep jobs. In July 2012, Cornerstone opened a service center in Kankakee to provide a day program option for residents of Shapiro Developmental Center. Cornerstone now provides behavioral health services and operates two group homes in Kankakee County.
People receive the amount of services necessary to live and work as independently as possible. Thousands of people’s lives have been touched by Cornerstone, including individuals with disabilities, community businesses and employers, area landlords who provide housing to many Cornerstone program participants who receive residential services, and the community as a whole. Many local businesses have hosted field trips for people who receive services from Cornerstone, and the agency’s Celebrity Champagne Luncheon fundraiser has become an area tradition.
For information on our services click here.
For information on service locations click here.