CHICAGO (WLS) --The on-going state budget crisis has put a strain on many non-profit agencies and even caused some to discontinue their services.
But one group is moving ahead despite the setbacks and celebrating local companies which are helping people with special needs at a gala.
For 36 years Access Living has been a leading advocacy group fighting for the rights of the disabled in the Chicago area. Now that mission is more challenging than ever.
"The state's budget impasse has all but shut down many good organizations, laid off many, many talented professionals and ended programs that would be very difficult to resume," Marca Bristo, President and CEO of Access Living, said.
Despite an estimated million dollar shortfall, this agency is moving ahead with a long-planned new program which will provide job training and resume preparation to Chicago Public School students who are living with disabilities.
"If they don't get a good start at the beginning, their career path becomes S-S-I or social security of disability insurance and that's not right, that's not fair," Bristo said. "We all know that people with disabilities are capable of many things and add value to the workplace."
Access Living is also about to step up their consulting and training work with various companies who are looking to hire people with physical and intellectual challenges.
"There probably hasn't been a disability that we haven't had to accommodate in some manner so contrary to most people's beliefs most accommodations are not expensive," Bristo said. "If we can afford it then Fortune 500 companies can certainly do so as well."
Next, the group will be honoring some Chicago companies which have been leading the way in disability issues. Those include ADA 25 Chicago with the Chicago Community Trust, ICM Architects and Rush University Medical Center. Bristo calls them "trail-blazers."
"People with disabilities are in all walks of life, all political persuasions, all economic groups, all racial and ethnic groups, all age groups, all genders. We are everywhere," she said. "It's an on-going struggle, but at its core it's a civil rights struggle and you can never let up. You can never let up."
The gala honoring those Chicago companies will be June 16 at Navy pier.
Tickets are still available.
For more information, visit www.accessliving.org