The Douglas Center was started in March of 1999 in a very small 2,500 square foot storefront on Pulaski in Chicago. This storefront location was obtained after an extensive search for a facility and after exhaustively working to allay the fears held by building owners that our individuals with disabilities would cause harm to others and to their property. The storefront consisted of three small rooms and a small warehouse in the back of the space. Two rooms were utilized for office space and the other for facilitating groups for our participants. The small warehouse space became our programming and production work area. The Douglas Center began with one participant and two staff members.
By the summer of 2000, a search for a new building with more space was underway. Our participant numbers had grown to 25 and the existing building was unable to accommodate any additional participants.
Just before the start of 2001, The Douglas Center relocated to 3445 Howard Street in Skokie, Illinois. Our seven staff members and over 30 participants occupied the 12,000 square foot facility.
In 2003, The Douglas Center expanded once again to approximately 24,000 square feet of space in order to accommodate a steady growth of participant referrals coming in. While production work has always been a high priority of The Douglas Center, this additional space enabled our program to provide additional programming and services to our participants. In addition to steady production work, The Douglas Center provided art and dance therapies, occupational and physical therapies, clinical and recreational services, community integration and small skills development groups.
In 2005, The Douglas Center was certified and accepted as a contractor for the Department of Defense and our sewing department was established. A few months before 2007, the needs of our senior participants had drastically changed and they desired more leisure activities and an environment without the pressures of production outcomes. The Douglas Center, proud of our flexibility and willingness to meet the changing needs of our participants, created a program dedicated solely to our senior population.
In 2011 The Douglas Center now serving over 125 individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities needed to expand once again to accommodate the increasing needs of the community. We now occupy 40,000 square feet of space for our Community day Services program, providing numerous services and choices to individuals with special needs that include work skills, employment opportunities, skills learning choices, clinical services, and recreational opportunities. The Douglas Center has increased its staff to over 30 employees and 10 contractors.
2015 marked a monumental moment for The Douglas Center as we introduced multi-sensory therapy and developed a fully equipped sensory room. A year later in 2016, we expanded to the outdoors with our adaptive sports arena to promote daily physical activity. A book club was also implemented later that year and our CARF accreditation placed us in the top 3% internationally for quality services, which is a great honor to be recognized for. In 2017 we introduced an electronic recycling program which created further employment opportunities for our individuals.