ABC7 In Your Neighborhood: Seguin Gardens and Gifts

June 22, 2013 (CICERO, Ill.)

That rings true when the companies are actually non-profits that exist to create jobs and to support services for people with disabilities.

The greenhouse at Seguin Gardens and Gifts in suburban Cicero is stocked with all you need for the season and the gift shop offers a variety of treasures. It's a place where every sale makes a difference.

"Our motto is to purchase with a purpose, because when you support Seguin Gardens and Gifts or you support Seguin Auto Center your support has a purpose behind it," said Julie Lerch, senior director of Seguin Enterprises.

The business is operated by Seguin Services, a not-for profit agency that serves adults and children with developmental disabilities and other special needs. Jobs are critical to boosting self-esteem.

"I like working here because it's important because I want the plants to get care," said Markita Harris, Seguin employee.

"I just love working with people and I love helping customers and doing the different tasks that they give me to do," said Mary Simons, Seguin employee.

Across the street is Seguin Auto Center. It's believed to be Illinois' only non-profit car dealership.

"We sell about 120 cars a year. We sell mainly cars that we get donated to us," said Lerch.

Car sales and car washes help provide meaningful work opportunities for more than 50 people with special needs throughout the year.

"We make sure everything is cleaned right," said Scott Jaros, Seguin employee.

Parents say the jobs at both businesses help provide greater independence in a safe environment.

"Part of our plan for her is for her to become more and more independent and more self-sustaining. She spent many years to get to the point where she could have a job," said Raymond Simons, parent of a Seguin employee with special needs. "When we send her off to Seguin, we know she's in good hands and that the people love her. She's part of a family here."

On weekends, Seguin parcels out its parking lot to local folks for a community garage sale. The proceeds directly benefit the agency's programs and its 65 group homes located throughout western Cook and DuPage counties.

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