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Marklund Day School welcomes student volunteers

May 16, 2017   Eleven fifth-graders from Roy De Shane Elementary School, in Carol Stream, Ill., recently spent the morning with Marklund Philip Center residents, reading books, playing games and assisting them with crafts.

The service project took place on May 9, as part of the school's problem-based learning -- a student-centered approach in which they learn about a subject by working in groups to solve an open-ended problem.

"One of the goals of the project was to instill in students a passion for service," said Teacher Tracy Legner. "We wanted to ignite a fire for giving of yourself, and learning you can make a difference at any age."

The project came together after students completed a variety of assignments. For example, they brainstormed on different needs throughout their community, and then narrowed their project to organizations that serve children with disabilities. They then researched such sites as to learn more about organizations' ratings and overhead costs. After choosing Marklund, students researched its website for information on the age requirements to volunteer, and the different ways to serve.

As part of their project, students also had to determine how they'd get to and from Marklund. They created a presentation for the school district's business manager, describing their service project, with the hope that the district would fund their transportation costs.

"When they agreed to fund our trip, I was really excited," said Aaliyah Tally-Sierra, one of the students. "We cheered and celebrated when we learned they said "yes" to paying for our bus ride."

Aaliyah rallied students behind Marklund, and took on a leadership role on the project, Legner said. "She shared how her aunt had been a resident of Marklund. Her personal story garnered the enthusiasm of the other students, and helped them decide to do their service project at Marklund."

"My heart felt really warm and happy that we were going to serve at Marklund," Aaliyah said. "I wanted to do something to help people with special needs, like my aunt."

"The intention of our students was to help, but they are realizing they are getting more out of the experience than they are giving," Legner said. "It is exciting to think of our students growing into adults who will give back to their communities."


See the article in The Daily Herald here:

Marklund Welcomes New Nursing Director for Elgin Campus

(March 24, 2017)   The Marklund Wasmond Center in Elgin recently welcomed Michelle Orwig as its new director of nursing.

Orwig, who has more than eight years' experience working in the hospital and health care industry, came to Marklund after serving as director of nursing for Villa Healthcare, Rockford. Her other experience includes working for ManagCare as quality assurance coordinator in the Chicago region, and for Friendship Senior Options, Geneva, as director of nursing.

Orwig, a registered nurse, received her associate's degree in nursing from Elgin Community College. She also has a nursing home administrator license.

As she looks ahead, Orwig looks forward to making a positive impact on the lives of residents, as well as their family and loved ones, she said.

"After researching job opportunities at other long-term care organizations, I was drawn to Marklund because its vision and mission are so spectacular," she said. "Marklund is so unique."

"Marklund and Little Angels were founded in the same manner, by families who had a heart for those in need," Orwig added. "The two organizations started the same way, and now they are together as one."

"We are thrilled to welcome Michelle," said Shelley Lewis, administrator of the Marklund Wasmond Center. "Michelle's experience, professionalism, and commitment to excellence, will enhance the lives of our residents, and help us carry out our mission of 'making everyday life possible for individuals with profound disabilities.'"

Marklund is a nonprofit organization that serves infants, children, teens and adults with serious and profound developmental disabilities and special healthcare needs. With three residential locations--Marklund at Mill Creek in Geneva, the Marklund Philip Center in Bloomingdale, and the Marklund Wasmond Center in Elgin--it is currently home to nearly 174 clients

For more information, visit, or call 630-593-5500.

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Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune

Annual Top Hat Ball Breaks Fundraising Records

Published: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 5:30 p.m. CDT

By KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marklund’s 21st annual Top Hat Ball fundraising event, “The Gatsby Ball” on Feb. 14, broke all past fundraising records for the nonprofit organization by netting $646,700, officials announced in a news release.

The Top Hat event is the largest fundraiser of the year for Marklund, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with severe and profound developmental disabilities at campuses in Geneva, Elgin and Bloomingdale, the release stated.

The Top Hat event was held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, and the net proceeds from the Top Hat Ball have steadily grown over the past five years, since recording $338,700 in 2013, the release stated.

Nearly 600 guests participated in the Roaring '20s-themed fundraiser, with one of the highlights being a dollar-for-dollar match offer – up to $100,000 – which was made by an anonymous donor during the live auction portion of the evening, the release stated.

The annual fundraiser helps bridge the funding gap between what it costs Marklund to care for its 174 residential clients and the $17,000 per person funding provided by the state, the release stated.

“The generosity of those in attendance at this event year after year continues to amaze us,” Gil Fonger, president and CEO of Marklund stated in the release. “We are thankful and humbled that they choose to support our mission of making everyday life possible for individuals with profound disabilities.”

Bud and Binna Porter of St. Charles presided over the evening’s program as co-chairmen of the event.

“What a true honor it is to be chairing Marklund’s Top Hat Ball for the second year in a row,” Bud Porter stated in the release. “This organization has grown so near and dear to our hearts, and we are humbled to serve in this capacity. Each year we leave this event in amazement at the selfless giving and support of so many loyal donors — each person, truly impacting our community in big and bold ways.”

Two Marklund brothers get special invite to Blackhawks game

(Oct. 7, 2016) Brothers Brad and Phil, two clients at Marklund in Geneva, had the time of their lives at the Oct. 4 Chicago Blackhawks game. They are serious Blackhawks fans, watching every game on TV and keeping up with the sports news in the media.

Read the rest of the article on the Daily Herald website at

Marklund and Little Angels Finalize Merger

(Oct 28, 2016) Geneva, IL – After eight months of preparation, Marklund and The Little Angels Center for Exceptional Care announced that they have approved the merging of both not-for-profit organizations.  Serving children and adults with profound developmental disabilities, Marklund is based in Geneva and Bloomingdale, and Little Angels in Elgin.

“After working toward this goal since February, I am very excited that our merger will finally become a reality,” said Gil Fonger, Marklund President and CEO. “I am confident that the joining of these two solid organizations is going to be very positive and make us stronger together than we could be apart. I am grateful for the positive board leadership in both organizations and for the enthusiastic support of the staff that made this day possible.”

The merger is effective as of Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The Marklund Board of Directors approved the merger at a board meeting Thursday night, Oct. 27. Little Angels’ board made its approval Sept. 24. Two board members and a parent from Little Angels will be joining the Marklund Board of Directors.

“The Board has great respect for the long-term commitment and accomplishments of the Little Angels organization and we are excited to join forces with them in our collective mission to care for individuals with profound developmental disabilities,” said Duane J. Fitch, Board Chair for Marklund. “We are so pleased that this day has come and we look forward to continuing this important journey.”

Upon the official sealing of the deal and signing of all legal papers, Little Angels will be renamed the Marklund Wasmond Center, to acknowledge its rich history and founding family, as well as to conform with the naming of Marklund’s other facilities. The new organization will have more than 450 staff.

“Little Angels has always been a labor of love for the entire Wasmond Family,” said Shelley Lewis, longtime executive director of Little Angels, whose parents founded that organization.  “Of utmost importance to us is that we carry on my mother’s legacy of providing care and support to children and young adults with profound disabilities and complex medical needs in a place that feels like home. My family and our dedicated staff have entrusted this legacy to Marklund who shares a very similar history and passion for caring.  Joining the Marklund Family feels very much like home to us and we are excited about what the future holds.”

In preparing for the merger, Marklund administrators and legal counsel completed a due diligence process which included a comprehensive appraisal of the Little Angels organization. The appraisal included assessment of such matters as financial records, building and equipment,   staff organization, HR practices and benefit programs. In addition, leaders from both organizations held meetings with board members, parents/guardians, and donors.

“Nothing unexpected emerged from this process which allowed us to confidently move ahead with the merger plan,” Fonger added.

Marklund and Little Angels have very similar histories in that their programs have grown out of the dedicated and selfless care provided by their founding families more than half a century ago.

Established in 1954 by Claire and Stan Haverkampf, Marklund currently serves more than 170 families in its residential, therapeutic and educational programs, and operates on a $20 million budget. The Marklund Philip Center in Bloomingdale is home to 21 medically complex residential clients, plus a developmental therapy program. The Marklund Day School, which serves 55 students with multi-needs and Autism Spectrum Disorder, is also located on that five-acre campus. The 25-acre Marklund at Mill Creek Campus in Geneva features six 16-bed residential homes, a Miracle League ball field, as well as the Marklund Hyde Center which houses seven developmental training classrooms, therapy areas, administrative offices and an indoor heated aquatic therapy pool.

Founded in 1958 by Pat and Bob Wasmond, Little Angels provides services to 57 clients at its five-acre facility, operating on a $7 million budget. Located on the eastern edge of Elgin, its campus includes the Pat Wasmond Home and the Cathy Freeman Center for Developmental Training. These programs offer services for medically complex individuals with developmental disabilities including 24-hour skilled nursing care, comprehensive respiratory and therapeutic  services, and social and community activities.  

All programs will continue to operate in their current locations, which are:

Marklund at Mill Creek/Marklund Hyde Center, 1S450 Wyatt Drive, Geneva, IL 60174;
Marklund Philip Center, 164 S. Prairie Avenue, Bloomingdale, IL 60108
Marklund Day School, 164 S. Prairie Avenue, Bloomingdale, IL 60108
Marklund Wasmond Center, 1435 Summit Street, Elgin, IL 60120

Blog - Asberger's Syndrome - Same but Different

The Marklund Day School staff researches interesting articles and blogs to share with parents and guardians of children with multi-needs and who may be on the autism spectrum, and wanted to share this one from the Asperger's Child website.

Asberger's Syndrome - Same but Different?


Blog - Signs a Parent Caregiver Needs Respite

Your life changes substantially when you have a child. If you are one of the 14 percent of adults who has a child with disabilities, the change may seem overwhelming. Caring for a child without disabilities is often exhausting. Caring for a disabled child is not just exhausting, it is also challenging and can even be overwhelming. You feel you cannot trust the care of your child to untrained people, so calling a teenage baby-sitter to give you even a few hours of free time is not an option. Close family members may not even be able to step in and help out.

Stress with the daily physical care of your child with disabilities is coupled with extra duties. You likely have frequent appointments you have to go to where your child receives medical care and/or therapy. You may even be employed and have other children to care for. You feel stressed, but you also feel guilty that you feel stressed. At least take comfort in the knowledge that you are not the only caregiver that experiences these feelings.

It is so common for caregivers of a child with disabilities or of a disabled adult to feel stressed, it has been given a name: Caregiver Stress Syndrome. You may not even realize you are suffering in this way since you are so used to being tired and having more things to do than you can actually accomplish. But, there are some real signs you need to pay attention to that indicate you need a break. If you recognize yourself in just a few of the items on this list, you need a temporary break from your responsibility, which is really the definition for respite care.

Signs you need a respite break.

• Changes in your sleep patterns. Either getting too much or not enough sleep.

• Frequent non-specific aches and pains, including headaches.

• Frequent feelings of anger.

• Easily irritated for no definable specific reason other than you are tired and overwhelmed.

• Drinking too much alcohol or taking too many prescription drugs.

• Forgetting things, such as appointments.

• Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

• Constant feelings of exhaustion.

• Always rushing because there just simply is not enough time to do what you need to do.

• You do not want to get out of bed in the morning and face another day.

• Feelings of resentment that your life is not how you expected it to be.

• Frequent colds and illnesses, caused by not properly taking care of yourself and compromising your diet and exercise programs.

Importance of respite care.

Respite care gives you the temporary relief you need to replenish your emotional and physical health. You will find renewed energy for your job and other family members. You can choose to have respite care for your child with disabilities for a few hours or a few days. You can schedule it to occur on a regular basis, or arrange for it when you feel you really you really need it.

You can arrange for the care to be given in your own home, find a facility that offers respite care for a child with disabilities or ask a family member, friend, neighbor or member of your faith community whom you trust. There are even programs, such as the REST (respite education and support tools) program, that trains volunteers to become volunteer respite care workers.  Respite care should be viewed as a necessity, not a luxury. Your entire family will benefit as you become rested and as your own health improves.

Blog - An Autism Diagnosis: Now What

Having a child diagnosed with autism is a significant event in a parent's life. If you are in this situation, it has likely come as a powerful emotional blow. For many parents, an autism diagnosis is an indication that the life they thought they thought their child was going to have is not exactly to be. The diagnosis may seem vague, due to the condition's "spectrum" nature; this means that it varies wildly from individual to individual. Some kids may struggle with autism for the rest of their lives while others may fall off the spectrum at some point so that they can no longer be considered autistic. The point to remember at all times is that each case is unique. Your child will respond differently to treatment and therefore their prognosis is different. How you handle it is key to the getting the best possible outcome.

Learn As Much as You Can

The diagnosis can make a parent apprehensive about the future but as with many things in life, the solution is education. There are multiple treatment programs for child disabilities like autism, along with multiple philosophies and methods of treatment. The problem is that there are not many studies comparing the different programs; as a parent with a newly diagnosed autistic child, you will have your work cut out for you when it comes to choosing one. You should acquire as much knowledge as you can about the condition and the methods used to manage it.  Books are an excellent resource on child disabilities and there are many on the subject of raising autistic children. Understanding the condition will not magically make everything easier, but it will go a long way to towards improving your experience and helping you to remain patient.

Seek Support  ML-DaySchool-4c-Low

Talking about autism with others can help to ease your anxieties and is a coping method recommended by autism advocacy group, Autism Speaks. Support groups are good places to do this as they can provide the comfort and reassurance that you will need as the parent of an autistic child. You get to talk openly about autism with other parents who have faced the same situation. This can help you to come to terms with your fears and start the process of overcoming them. The Marklund Day School has Certified Autism Specialists on staff who can serve as excellent resources for managing educational programs for your child.

Seek Treatment

Getting help soon after the diagnosis is essential for reducing problematic behavior. At this point, there is no known cure for autism but by using the collection of treatments available, it is possible to ensure a functional and even productive future for your child; they will have the opportunity to learn new skills and to achieve. Treatment will help regardless of the stage at which it is provided but earlier in a child's development is better.  It is essential that you are actively involved in the treatment; according to a study by the University of North Carolina Medical School, children with parents who participate in therapy tend to do better. When seeking therapy, you should consult with a pediatrician or other child disabilities specialist. Talk to multiple professionals with experience handling autism spectrum disorders, not just one.

It is important that parents remember that they are not the first ones to deal with this problem. There are many others out there who have faced the same thing and who have learned how to manage it. The diagnosis instantly makes them a part of a new community and there are many resources out there to help them.

Blog - Choosing the Right Respite Care Provider

Dealing with someone with adult disabilities, whether it be a parent, sibling or other family member, can sometimes mean choosing a respite care provider. Not a decision to make lightly, finding the right care provider is a process that requires a lot of research and focus. The end result is short-term breaks for you and other guardians taking care of the person, which means less stress, more energy and a more balanced existence for you.

Analyzing Needs

The first step in choosing a respite care provider is analyzing what you, individual receiving the care, and other family members who provide care need. Do you need more time off? Help with transportation? Think about your daily regimen and make a list of what you need help with most. Understanding what the family member needs most in terms of respite care is also essential, such as a companion for social activities, assistance with walking, eating, medication, and exercise, or mental stimulation.

Types of Respite Care

Understanding the types of respite care available is also important when choosing the right provider. Types are care are broken down into in-home and out-of-home categories. In-home care includes volunteer and paid companionship, healthcare assistance, informal family support and relief, and online caregiver communities. Out-of-home care for adult disabilities include caregiver support groups and adult daycare. Think about which type of care best suits your family after analyzing your and your loved one's needs. For example, if going with in-home care, the family member will get to remain in recognizable surroundings, and you can be there while the person is still getting to know the care provider. Conversely, choosing an off-site respite location can provide your loved one with new surroundings to experience for the time being which may be what he or she needs as well.

The Interview Process

Once you've determined what you require from a respite care provider, it's time to actually choose one. Perform phone interviews first before meeting with potential care providers in person. Ask the person or select few to furnish references, and check all of them. Do a criminal background check as well. After you've narrowed your choices down, think about cost and come up with a financial plan that works for everyone involved. Finally, it's important to draw up a contract that provides specific details about how often the care provider is expected to work, duties they need to perform on a weekly or daily basis,
days off, and so on.

A Few Final Tips

Remember there's no set guidelines for choosing the right respite care provider, what's important is that you come up with a system that works for you, other family caregivers, and the family member with adult disabilities. Think about how you want to spend your time off, and consider how other family members feel about the situation. If you're leaving the disabled family member in the care of another without your supervision, think critically about how you feel about it. You have to trust the person you're leaving in care of your loved one in order for the arrangement to be a success. A harmonious relationship among everyone involved will help you get the time off you need, meaning you will not harbor guilt or resentment towards the disabled family member you love so much.