Clearbrook Finds Ways to Help People with Disabilities

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By Marie Lazzara, Manager of the Linked Local Schaumburg

My good friend Rose always told me to think “out of the box” when it comes to finding solutions to problems. The obvious is out there but thinking of other ways to solving problems is challenging, constructive and, in the end, very satisfying.

I like that approach. I know of a group of folks who took such as novel approach, especially in the mid-1950s, when they couldn’t find a way to meet the educational needs of their children who had developmental disabilities. I recently interviewed Laura Warren, Director of Marketing for Clearbrook, an Arlington Heights-based nonprofit devoted to helping children, adults and seniors with developmental disabilities.

Think about it. What kinds of support systems would have been there for these families back then? One that I’ve heard about would be institutionalization. These parents didn’t want that choice for their loved ones. When Clearbrook began, it readily identified certain needs for its clientele: vocational, employment and residential services as well as an early intervention program to help children as they entered school.

Warren said that Clearbook serves more than 3,400 infants and toddlers and their families and adults  from more than 45 northwest suburban Chicagoland communities and Chicago. Some of the unique services that it offers are children’s respite programs where trained volunteers give parents time away from their youngsters; a developmental training program for adults that fosters socialization and community participation; and a senior day program that offers participants a variety of activities from taking local trips to learning about music.

With the troubled economy, nonprofits such as Clearbrook are trying to raise much-needed funds through many planned benefits. For example, if you ever wanted to know what it’s like being a blackjack dealer in a Las Vegas casino, the nonprofit is giving volunteers that chance. On Tuesday Jan. 29, there’s a Casino Night Dealer Training session for those who want to deal cards for the Clearbrook Guardians Spring Casino Night on Saturday March 2.

Guests can take a culinary trip around the world without leaving the northern suburbs. The Heart of Glenview event, which will take place on Monday Feb. 4 at Glenview’s Regal Stadium Glen 10 Theater, will present tastings from 40 local restaurants, live entertainment and clips from famous acting divas that have graced the silver screen.

Later that week, Clearbrook will greet and meet visitors as it opens its hospitality suite during the “First Look for Charity Auto Show” on Friday, Feb. 8 at McCormick Place in Chicago.  The event is the nation’s largest auto show and formal gala which benefits Clearbrook and 17 other Chicagoland charities.

What I took from Warren’s interview was that thinking out of the box creates many solutions and an organization that doesn’t stop thinking of ways to help its clientele.

Visitors can find much more information about Clearbrook, its services and its schedule of benefit events at

I also want to encourage you to visit Linked Local Network’s Schaumburg website at and our main website at

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