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The Douglas Center Launches Employment Training Units Program


The Douglas Center recently launched their “Employment Training Units” program for adults living with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. The program's official launch featured a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony held on Friday, August 25, 2023, as part of their Open House event. Participants in the ribbon cutting honors included Rifath Khan, CEO and Founder; Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen; and Bonnie Kahn Ognisanti, Niles Township Supervisor. This day-long Open House welcomed the public and offered a hands-on opportunity to gain insights into the unique challenges individuals with special needs encounter, as well as the remarkable progress they make towards achieving independence.

The Douglas Center “Employment Training Units” program is designed to equip participants with the essential skills required to pursue potential job opportunities in office, hospitality, and retail settings. Each unit will provide specific work skills training to familiarize and inform program participants on what to expect from a position in these areas and enhance their knowledge and self-confidence needed as they seek out possible employment positions within the community. Beyond developing job-related skills, our participants will enhance their independence by mastering vital life skills, including financial management, household organization, time management, and personal hygiene. The Employment Training Units at The Douglas Center offer hands-on and community practicum training, allowing participants to observe and apply these skills in real-world scenarios.

Hospitality Unit

The Hospitality Unit provides work training in basic housekeeping skills including:

  • Cleaning rooms, surfaces, and objects
  • Bedmaking
  • Dusting
  • Organization
  • Vacuuming
  • Equipment and cleaning product use

Office Unit

The Office Unit provides work training in basic office skills including:

  • Organizational skills
  • Basic computer literacy
  • Phone answering
  • Copy machine printing/Faxing
  • Shredding
  • Time-management
  • Sorting and filing
  • Mail opening and sorting

Retail Unit

The Retail Unit provides work training in basic retail skills including:

  • Stocking and facing shelves
  • Bagging
  • Cashiering fundamentals
  • Customer service/greeting
  • Cleaning and maintenance
  • Inventory
  • Label reading comprehension for choosing healthy eating
  • Pricing

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 65.2 percent of people with disabilities are without employment. Additionally, despite a stronger and growing economy, people with disabilities are more likely to suffer from being underemployed. They experience a greater lack in pay, employment hours, training resulting in fewer opportunities for advancement or promotion. The lack of work and/or opportunities often lead to the onset of anxiety, depression, and mental and physical health issues. A recent article in the 8/22/23 issue of “Disability Scoop” stated that 99% of Adults with Autism have no employment services. The Douglas Center “Employment Training Units” program is designed to provide the basic skills training needed to better enable our participants to obtain employment within the community. Additionally, the skills acquired in this program will assist them in building a greater level of self-confidence and self-esteem.  

The Douglas Center extends its heartfelt appreciation to Source America for their generous grant, which funded the equipment and supplies essential for our Office Unit. Source America continues to be a supportive partner that has contributed to the many positive employment outcomes for those in the AbilityOne program and our center as whole. The Douglas Center is greatly appreciative of their continued effort to find ways to advance employment opportunities for those with special needs.

The Douglas Center extends our profound gratitude to the Niles Township Government for their generous grant, which provided the essential equipment and supplies for both our Hospitality and Retail training units. We also offer our sincere thanks to the Niles Township Food Pantry for their generous donation of food items, including canned goods, which will greatly benefit our Retail training unit.

A special thank you to Will’s Place for their generous and scrumptious donation of “Will’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies” for our Open House. Will’s Place is a non-profit café located in Skokie, creating meaningful jobs for adults with disabilities.

"I am excited to introduce our 'Employment Training Units' program," stated Rifath Khan, Founder and CEO. "This skills training initiative seeks to unlock a world of new possibilities for employment and fulfillment for individuals with special needs. The Douglas Center is unwavering in its dedication to offering choices and opportunities to those we serve. With this program, we continue to fulfill our ongoing commitment, and we couldn't be more thrilled to embark on this journey!"

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