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.

Who are your participants?

Connection of Friends provides a place for special needs participants, ages 16 and older, 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?

Service Hours: Monday-Thursday with varied options of:

  • Noon-6:00 pm
  • Noon-3:00 pm
  • 3:00-6:00 pm
  • Friday Hours are 9:00 am-3:00 pm
  • Dinner & Dancing is scheduled on Mondays from 3-6:00 pm and limited to 6 participants
  • Saturday Night Socials: 6-9:00 pm and limited to 12 participants
  • Participants sign up for 13-week sessions and select specific days and time options
  • Connection of Friends is closed on Sundays and traditional holidays

What are your current staffing ratios and fees?

COF principally operates on a 3 participant to 1 staff/volunteer.  However, COF will staff a 2:1 or 1:1 on a limited basis.  Please contact Jamie Hager, Program Director at jhager@connectionoffriends.org or call (630) 260-0922 to learn more about our current fees.

Currently, our 1:1 and 2:1 staffing is limited:

  • Monday-Friday: 1 participant who is a 1:1 OR  1 participant who is 2:1 per 3 hour session
  • Saturday Night Socials on designated Saturdays: 1 participant who is a 1:1 or 1 participant who is 2:1

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 a 1:1 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 and Program Leader.  In addition, we have 5 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, music volunteer, 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?

  • Planning and preparing a daily meal or snack
  • Volunteering in the community:
    • DuPage Convalescent Center
    • People’s Resource Center, (PRC) (Clothes Closet)
    • 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
  • Science Experiments
  • Technology—Newsletters & News 2 You and Unique Learning software
  • Product Creation for Fundraisers—Dog Biscuits, Magnets & Recipe Jars

  What is Dinner & Dancing with Friends?

  • Mondays from 3:00-6:00 pm
  • 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
  • Limited to 12 participants
  • Includes pizza and dessert
  • Each Saturday is themed with participant input

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