El Valor empowers people with special needs

May 11, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Guadalupe Reyes started El Valor 40 years ago. Now that organization, located in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, provides services to thousands of adults with disabilities.

A trip to the corner store may seem like an ordinary task, but it can be overwhelming for a person with special needs.

"I was going to get a pack of tortillas and I was kind of nervous. I was shaking like this and I couldn't breathe right and that was kind of hard for me," Cristian Salazar said.

That's why practice helps. The trip is a test run led by staff at the non-profit El Valor. The organization works to help people with disabilities live and work independently.

"Adult programs include intake evaluation, brain injury programs, enrichment programs, residential programs, respite programs. Some of these programs are a lifeline for our families," Vincent Allocco, president, El Valor, said.

Whether it's tending gardens, getting job training or tuning up fine motor skills, clients engage in activities that provide a sense of purpose and inclusiveness. Rosalea Velascio's brother has received services for the past 13 years.

"Once he started coming here, he was always happy. He had a purpose. He would come and work or just participate. He had friends. That made a big difference with him," Velascio said.

El Valor is celebrating its 4oth anniversary next week with a grand dinner.

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