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 or
  • Noon-3:00 pm—capped at 5 participants


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

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
  • Saturday Night Socials up to 2 participants in need of extra support on Saturdays.

Please note: Our ability to continue offering a space to an additional participant requiring individualized support on Saturdays will be contingent upon being able to staff with an additional Program Assistant.


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.  Those participants with a medical diagnosis, (ie seizure disorder), will be considered in need of extra support.  All other medical conditions will be assessed individually and the Program Director will determine the support needed upon completion of the in-take process.

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, Program Leader and Senior Program Assistant.  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”.

What are examples of your programmed activities during the week?

  • Preparing a daily meal or snack
  • Volunteering in the community:
    • DuPage Convalescent Center
    • People’s Resource Center, (PRC)
    • Glen Ellyn Food Pantry
    • SCARCE (School and Community Assistance for Composting and Recycling Education)
    • Christmas in July Food Drive benefitting PRC
  • Music
  • Art
  • Gardening and Nature
  • Health, Wellness & Fitness
    • Yoga
    • Cardio/strength training
    • Exercise goals
    • Nutrition—Guided Discussions
    • Body Image
  • Social Jobs Selected by the Participants
  • Learning to play new games
  • Science Experiments
  • Technology—Newsletters & News 2 You and Unique Learning software
  • Product Creation for Fundraisers—Dog Biscuits, Soap, Note Cards & Recipe Jars

  What is Dinner & Dancing with Friends?

  • Mondays from 3:00-6:00 pm (capped at 4 participants)
  • Focus on preparation and eating of an evening meal
  • Work on life skill activities, manners & table discussions
  • Pre-determined menu
  • Flat fee
  • Gluten Free or other dietary considerations not available

What are Saturday Night Socials?

  • 6:00-9:00 pm (capped at 9 participants)
  • Includes pizza and dessert
  • Each Saturday is themed with participant input
  • New participants receive a COF participant “buddy” for the evening (families are notified prior to first Saturday)

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.