Illinois Valley Industries (IVI) has been assisting adults with intellectual, developmental, sensory, physical and emotional barriers to define who they are, what they want to do and how they direct their lives through vocational, educational, social and residential services for over 50 years.
Illinois Valley Sheltered Workshop began in the basement of the First Baptist Church of Morris in 1968. It has been the philosophy of the organization that every individual with disabilities should have the opportunity to make a contribution to society and has the right to a productive and worthwhile place in the community. Though we started out with only six clients, by 1978 a brand new building was built at 1033 Third Avenue providing over 60 clients with vocational training, independent living skills and competitive placement in the community. Then, in the early 1980’s an individual expressed his displeasure with our name and the perceived difference and negative connotation of “Sheltered Workshop” when he deposited his checks at the bank and applied for work in the community. Soon after this conversation, we were legally renamed Illinois Valley Industries.
In 1981, the first group home was established to serve 10 women. By 1985, the need for residential services had intensified and an eight apartment supported living complex was built through Farmers Home Administration to serve 22 men and women with developmental disabilities. We have increased residential opportunities based on the changing needs of the people we serve and the changing financial climate at the state level. The supported living arrangement has become an independent apartment complex housing people who receive personal support services through IVI. In addition to the eight apartment complex, personal support services are also provided at six additional community apartments to individuals with developmental disabilities.
Our day program sites provide prevocational, educational opportunities and vocational training opportunities offered to the individuals served. We have built an impeccable reputation for quality and excellence. Through hard work and dependability, IVI has captured the Illinois Department of Transportation State Use contract for road barricades since 1989, allowing more and different work opportunities to the individuals at the day program. IVI also has had long-standing contract work relationships with Sigma Marketing, Sigma Graphics, and Sponge Cushion.
In response to area schools being charged with offering school to work transition opportunities to students participating in special education, IVI was able to expand programs and offer opportunities to students and schools to satisfy state requirements.
For 25 years we provided community job placement services without any funding assistance from state or federal agencies. Today we have a fee-for-service contract with the Division of Rehabilitation that covers a very small portion of the expenses involved. Individuals are assisted in obtaining competitive employment through self-directed job search. Job seeking skills such as checking want ads, making telephone inquires, writing resumes, filling out applications, interviewing, dressing for success and community networking are stressed. The organization also assists potential employers by educating them on how to train and supervise individuals with special needs and meeting Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Services available such as job shadowing, job coaching, on-the-job training, crisis intervention and funding for training are explained thoroughly.
Prior to 2010, programs and services at IVI were partially funded through grants from the State of Illinois. As of October 2010, all grant money disappeared and organizations converted to a fee-for-service program that combined state funds and federal Medicaid funds. Since the 2010 conversion, the State’s Priority of Urgency of Needs (PUNS) list now has over 20,000 unserved or underserved people waiting for funding for adult services. As a result of the funding conversion, organizations across the state closed programs to people who could not pay for services either privately or with the new Medicaid Waiver funds. IVI did not close programs to anyone enrolled. We made a commitment to serve everyone in house, as of October 2010, regardless of funding.
The organization’s uniqueness is best reflected in our stability and 50 year reputation in the county. Our reputation has been built on being a responsible, contributing member of the community. IVI’s relationship with local business and government has been consistently cordial and mutually beneficial.
One of the most important things that we stress with the people participating in our programs is the importance of community interaction. The community is very generous and responsive to the needs of the population served by IVI, and in turn, every individual is encouraged to give back to and be a part of the community. Besides routine activities such as shopping, going to the library, eating in restaurants, and enjoying recreational activities and special community events, program participants are encouraged to give of themselves and their time through a variety of volunteer opportunities.
Illinois Valley Industries can attribute a large portion of its success to its flexibility and willingness to stretch and grow to meet the needs of the population we support and the community while continuing to meet state and federal mandates and guidelines. Since 1980, we have been repeatedly commended by the international accrediting body CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) for our variety and excellence of services.