Non-profit maintains quality of service despite cuts

December 11, 2011 (CHICAGO)

One of the state's largest agencies has managed to keep their quality of services despite some funding setbacks.

Anixter Center has been around for over 90 years. They serve 7,400 people with disabilities annually with 50 programs at 24 locations. Although the population is growing, they tend to find ways to move forward.

"I think the Anixter Center is doing quite well relative to the stress that's occurred because funding cuts over the last four years and because of the dedicated staff and volunteers were serving roughly the same number of people and we're maintaining very high quality and standard of services," said Kevin Limbeck, president and CEO.

Limbeck says their biggest setback this year was closing two homes.

"Fifteen years ago the state of Illinois asked us to build two homes to serve 16 medically fragile children with disabilities. We did that very successfully we created excellent model of community, independent living for those individuals," he said.

Last May they had to close them.

"Because the state cut our funding by 38 percent and so that's been very disruptive for the individuals that were living there and their families," said Limbeck.

They did try to save them.

"We lost half a million dollars in nine months serving them but the reduction was really extreme and so unfortunately weren't able to continue the services," he said.

Families had to figure out what to do with their children. Robin Bray's son Joshua, 23, ended up in Oregon, Illinois.

"Two and half hours away from me," said Bray. "I had all these agencies calling me setting up appointments to drive out and visit their homes and it was a lot to drive two and half to three hours out in the boondocks far, far away."

James Thomas, father of 26-year-old Crystal, ended up bringing her home.

"They gave me a choice of two facilities and the facilities were too far out for me to travel, so I decided to bring her home and since she's been home it's been a big change in my life and her life," said Thomas.

Crystal comes to the Anixter Center five days a week for six hours a day. He worries about the future.

"If my daughter should lose me who will she have? who will step up to the plate to take care of her and put some love and attention to give her the love and attention I have," Thomas said.

"The General Assembly and the governor have a lot of control over what our future will be. I think it's critical that individuals, citizens have a chance to speak with their legislators and inform them that we must prioritize services to people with disabilities and use the resources we have as a state effectively," said Limbeck.

Especially for veterans who are returning from home with disabilities and need support.

"The president of United States said he's making commitment to serve those individuals but again the Defense Department Veteran Affairs, they have appropriations which can sustain them for decades. We're here again to provide them with the support they need but federal funding will be critical to doing that," said Limbeck.

It will be interesting to see what happens with future government funding to programs that benefit people with disabilities.

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