In 1971, three local Sertoma clubs were responsible for the opening of a small sheltered workshop in Alsip, Illinois called Sertoma Job Training Center. Back then, there were 11 individuals with disabilities and four staff in 3,000 square feet of space donated by the Lombard family at 4343 W. 123rd Street. Thanks to Action Sertoma (formerly known as Alsip Sertoma), POW-R Sertoma and Evergreen Sertoma (now American Heritage Sertoma) clubs, local businesses offered these individuals opportunities to have some place to go and work after they completed high school.

By 1987, programs had expanded to serve more than 200 clients with a staff of 100. The facility’s name was changed to Sertoma Career Center, and the building’s structure changed, too. Three major additions increased workspace to 43,800 square feet on two levels. During the 1990′s, Insite Training Systems was formally established to oversee existing employment services and operate as the community employment division of the Centre. At the same time, Residential Services were launched with the opening of Sertoma’s first Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) homes.

In the year 2000, the Centre doubled its space by opening a second, 46,000 square foot facility at 4100 W. 127th Street. Home to the Centre’s sub-contract packaging and training services, the programs located there include Developmental Training, Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR), School Transition for students aged 16-22 and offices for Residential Services staff. Thanks to a generous contribution, this building was officially named the “Martha Polacek Facility” in the fall of 2003. Major renovations were completed in April 2002 at the 123rd Street facility, allowing space for Insite Training Systems, Seniors “Young at Heart” program, Developmental Training, Administration, Transportation, and Janitorial Services (J-Team)

Today, there are more than 1,200 individuals with disabilities that benefit from 14 programs in the two large day facilities in Alsip that cover over 96,000 square feet. There are ten residential homes throughout the south and southwest suburbs, and a large strip mall in Matteson that houses the community-based Mental Health and Counseling Center.

    Among the services provided are:

  • Vocational evaluation
  • Developmental training
  • Community-based assessments
  • Senior programming
  • Work adjustment training
  • Residential services
  • Janitorial skills training
  • Foster care
  • Job placement services
  • Supported employment
  • Specialized services
  • School transition services
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation
  • Behavioral health services
  • Autism services
  • Sheltered workshop program

Sertoma Centre receives funding for its programs through state agencies, third parties, private pay, United Way, and donations from service organizations, businesses and individuals. Contract work in packaging, assembly, and janitorial services also provides significant program support. Services are provided to individuals based on their eligibility and available openings, enabling people with disabilities, regardless of income, to benefit from the Centre’s programs.

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