Since 1968, the Center for Enriched Living (CEL) has ensured that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the same opportunities that we all enjoy – to be fully included in the community, connected to friends with the possibilities to pursue new interests, hobbies and lifelong learning.
This year, we invite you to join us as we celebrate 50 years of friendships formed, goals achieved, and experiences shared. Stay tuned for details on upcoming dates to celebrate with us throughout this exciting year!
1968: CEL is Founded
Two mothers approach Lynne Albanese, a staff social worker at the Deborah Boys Club in Albany Park, looking for after-school activities for their children who have developmental disabilities. The Young Men’s Jewish Council founds the Center for Enriched Living and the two children are integrated into programs at the community center.
1979: CEL Basketball Team is Formed
Under the direction of renowned former Loyola champion coach, George Ireland, CEL’s basketball team goes undefeated its first season.
1984: CEL Becomes Independent
CEL becomes an independent 501(c)3 agency and forms its own board of direcotrs, planned fundraising strategies with a budget of $150,000. 60 members of all ages with developmental disabilities enjoy a variety of social, recreational and independent living programs.
1987: CEL Moves to Deerfield
CEL moves to the Woodland Park School in Deerfield which provides 5,000 square feet to house our weekly programs. CEL develops a fundraising plan which includes annual giving, United Way, grants and special events.
1996: Vision 2000 Launched
Board of Directors completed the first long range strategic plan, Vision 2000, with the directive to find a permanent home for CEL.
2000: CEL’s Permanent Facility Opens in Riverwoods
CEL opened its doors at our 20,000 square foot building at 280 Saunders Road in Riverwoods. Membership has grown to 455 children, adults and seniors who attend 20 programs throughout the week.
2003: CEL’s Founding Executive Director Retires
Lynne Albanese, the founding Executive Director of CEL retires. Harriet Levy, longtime Director of Development, is appointed Executive Director by the board of directors.
2006: CEL Launches New Collaborative Initiatives
CEL and Northern Suburban Special Recreation (NSSRA) partner to establish Enriched Lifestyles for Adults (ELA) program, a day program for adults, 21 and older, with developmental disabilities. A second partner program is developed in partnership with The Lookingglass Theater, CEL and Jewish Council for Youth Service which brings youth with and without disabilities together for a collaborative theater workshop.
2009: CEL Opens its Doors Wider
CEL establishes an alternative day program the REACH Adult Day Program which runs 3 days a week. All CEL now serves members with more severe physical disabilities and autism. CEL launches its Opening the Doors campaign to retrofit its facility with Universal Design so all who enter, enter as equals.
2015: CEL Named One of Top Twenty Nonprofits
Chicago Magazine names CEL one of the top twenty nonprofits to support in the Chicagoland area.
2016: CEL’s Universal Design Renovation Complete
CEL’s Universal Design renovation is complete. The renovation includes automatic doors, ceiling clouds that offer noise reduction, softer acoustics in gym, LED-lighting throughout building, furnishings and appliances that are accessible to those in wheelchairs.
2016: CEL Launches Employment Opportunities Program
CEL’s Employment Opportunities Program launches to provide individuals with developmental disabilities with the tools and resources to help throughout the entire job search process.
2017: CEL Opens Northwest Location in Hoffman Estates
CEL’s REACH Adult Day Program launches its second location in Hoffman Estates. 5 members are enrolled each day.