Why was Connection of Friends created?

To address the limited programming available to provide a community-based program where teenagers and adults with special needs can routinely go to socialize and participate in life skill, volunteer and fitness activities on a daily basis and Saturday evenings.

Who are your participants?

Connection of Friends provides a place for special needs teenagers, ages 16 and older, and special needs adults to engage in social, life skill, volunteer and fitness activities on a daily basis and Saturday evenings.  Participants do not “age out” of our program.

What are your hours of operation?

Participants sign up for 13-week sessions and select specific days and time options which are filled on a first come, first served basis. Connection of Friends is closed on Sundays and traditional holidays.

Service Hours: Monday-Friday with varied options of:

  • 9:00 am-3:00 pm
  • Noon-6:00 pm
  • Noon-3:00 pm
  • 3:00-6:00 pm


  • Noon-3:00 pm or
  • Dinner & Dancing with Friends from 3-6:00 pm and capped at 4 participants

TUESDAY HOURS—Community Volunteering

  • 9:00 am-3:00 pm–capped at 5 participants


  • Noon-6:00 pm
  • Noon-3:00 pm—capped at 6 participants
  • 3:00-6:00 pm—capped at 6 participants

FRIDAY HOURS—Community Volunteering

  • Friday Hours are 9:00 am-3:00 pm—capped at 5 participants


  • 6:00-9:00 pm—capped at 9 participants

What are your current staffing ratios and fees?

COF principally operates on a 3 participant to 1 staff/volunteer.  However, Connection of Friends is committed to providing individualized support for those participants in need of additional direction and engagement during programming provided only by paid staff; not volunteers.

A participant’s staffing ratio is determined after speaking with the required two references and completion of the in-take with the Executive Director and Program Director.

Currently, additional staffing support is limited:

  • Monday-Friday: 1 participant who is in need of extra support per 3 or 6  hour session
  • Additional support is not available for Saturday Night Socials


Please contact Jamie Hager Lee, Program Director at jhager@connectionoffriends.org or call (630) 260-0922 to learn more about our current fees.

Are there any limitations with additional supports?

Participants need to be able to toilet independently.   All medical conditions will be assessed individually and the Program Director will determine the support needed upon completion of the in-take process.

Registration Process

  • Sessions are 13-weeks and run consecutively;
  • Registrations are filled on a first come, first served basis;
  • Four (4) Session Commitments for week-day programming can be made—this is done each spring or families can register every 13-weeks;
  • Dinner & Dancing with Friends and Saturday Night Social registration is done each session, (no 4-Session Commitment is available);
  • Registration forms are emailed to families;
  • Registration forms will highlight how many “spots” are available for each week-day section;
  • Payment is either check or cash;
  • Payment must accompany all forms.

What makes COF unique?

  • Programming centered around socialization
  • Participant Profile packet filled out by families and participants
  • In-take meeting scheduled with the Program Director and Program Leader
  • Constant communication
  • 3-week check-in for new participants
  • Visual supports including individualized schedules and behavior supports
  • Practicing volunteer skills prior to volunteering
  • Continuation of basic business model of product creation introduced in transition programs

Who is the professional staff?

Connection of Friends is staffed by a full-time Program Director and Program Leader.  In addition, we have Program Assistants that are part-time employees, staffed when needed and during our Saturday Night Socials.  Our Program Assistants have college degrees in the areas of special education, communication studies, psychology and social work.  Overall supervision and management is provided by the Executive Director, (non-pay position).

Program Volunteers consists of an art teacher, gardener and yoga instructor.  To learn more about our professional staff and volunteers, please visit the “staff tab”.

Programming Overview–Dinner and Dancing with Friends

  • Focus on preparation and eating an evening meal
  • Work on life skill activities, manners & table discussions
  • Pre-determined menu
  • Flat fee
  • Gluten Free or other dietary considerations not available

Programming Overview–Saturday Night Socials

  • Each Saturday is themed with 3 activity rotations
  • Includes pizza and dessert

Programming Overview–Week Day

Daily Activities

  • Preparing a daily meal or snack
  • Setting the table
  • Conversation skills with visuals and scripts
  • Cleaning jobs
  • Art & Music
  • Gardening (3-raised garden beds on site)
  • Health, Wellness & Fitness
  • Yoga
  • Cardio
  • Nutrition and Healthy Self—Guided Discussions
  • Social Jobs—Selected by participants
  • Social Trivia
  • Learning to play new games
  • Topical Series
  • History, Animation, Geography, Architecture, Pop Culture
  • Technology
  • Newsletters/Journals/Mad Libs/Scrapbooking
  • News 2 You software

Community Volunteering, Community Outings and Service Projects

Volunteering in the Community:

  • DuPage Care Center
  • Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans (MSHV)
  • Glen Ellyn Public Library
  • Southminster Presbyterian Church—Gardening
  • Humanitarian Service Project

Community Outings:

  • Community lunch and dessert
  • Glen Ellyn Public Library—research activities
  • The Morton Arboretum

Service Projects (Ongoing):

  • Peeling crayons for SCARCE (School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education)
  • Christmas in July Food Drive benefitting People’s Resource Center, (PRC)
  • COF garden donations benefitting PRC
  • Birthday in a Box benefitting Humanitarian Service Project
  • Got a Mitten? Mitten Drive benefitting MSHV
  • Sock Hop Sock Drive benefitting MSHV

Connection of Friends Product Creation

All products are made by COF participants and sold throughout the year.

  • Barklicious Dog Biscuits
  • COF Heart & Soap—variety of scents
  • Wickedly Good Candles—variety of scents
  • Recipe Jars
  • Christmas Ornaments
  • Seed Flowers
  • Note Cards featuring original COF artwork

Who volunteers at Connection of Friends?

  • Peer age and professional
  • Volunteer Application packets are completed which includes authorization to conduct a background check
  • Under age of 18, a signed reference letter is required from the high school
  • Volunteers receive individualized orientations and are familiarized on all participants unique needs and supports

Where do I download Participant Profile Forms?

Click on the Participant Forms tab.

Who do I contact to learn more about programming?

Jamie Hager Lee, Program Director at (630) 260-0922 or jhager@connectionoffriends.org.