Ethgar just needed a little space to blossom.

Ethgar was one of the roughly 100 participants who relocated to an entirely new center in 2022, heading from the longtime Lakeside Center in Waukegan to a beautiful and dynamic space in Grayslake that has transformed the programming and the people who benefit from it.

Janet Medina, a longtime life-skills instructor at Grayslake, said Ethgar is just one example of participants excelling in the new environment that focuses on classroom learning, choices, and more variety than the old Lakeside Center could offer.

As someone who has worked with Ethgar since 2019, she said he has taken more strides in the last year than she has ever seen before – and the relocation to the more dynamic space was pivotal in his growth.

“He’s just such a great worker and helper and he has really gotten more comfortable around others,” Janet said. “He’s still a little shy but you can see how much more comfortable he has become since being here.”

While the old Lakeside Center had a warehouse-like layout that focused primarily on contracted work done onsite by participants, the new 15,000-square-foot facility has multiple classrooms and larger meeting areas to give participants an opportunity to pursue interests and develop more skills.

Ethgar, in addition to continuing to do on-site work such as shredding and some product assembly for above minimumwage rates, has increased his social skills through exploring the new curriculum and classes the Grayslake center offers. He is involved in music, cooking classes, physical education courses such as outdoor hikes around Lake County’s natural parks, art and much more.

The layout of the new center is key to the early success. Rooms are divided into Earn, Learn, Create and Recreate spaces. In the Earn curriculum, individuals learn work skills and social skills for potential employment. In the Learn area, people can work on subjects like math, reading, and writing. Create allows participants to engage in art, dance, and other outlets while Recreate focuses on health, fitness, and community engagement.

Cortney Lucente, Assistant Director of Lake County Community Day Services, said the curriculum is still growing and more and more options will become available to help participants like Ethgar reach their full potential.

“It’s been a really wonderful change for everyone, and you can see how much more we are capable of as a program and how much more they are capable of because of the opportunities they now have,” Cortney said. “Ethgar has just always been this wonderful, polite, and professional person and now he is able to take that next step.”

After a highly successful 2022, Ethgar is set to join the Employee Development Services program in early 2023 and work toward gaining a job in the community – a step Janet said he is more than ready for.

Ethgar is working towards gaining community-based employment in 2023 because of your support last year. When you give today, you are enabling so many more to realize that potential.

391 individuals with disabilities were able to access the Day Programs & Services in 2022, thanks to YOU! Each having the best opportunity to grow life and social skills, work towards community-based employment, and always reach for their unique potential.