About Anixter Center

The History and Evolution of Anixter Center
 
In 1918, 13 women founded an orphanage as a promise to their friend who had lost all but one of her children to the influenza epidemic. They promised to care for him, and from this promise came the Douglas Park Jewish Day and Night Nursery.

Thirty-seven years later, the organization came to realize that the most critical need in Chicago had changed. It was at this juncture that the board made a strategic move and created a new mission—to serve people with disabilities.

Below is a timeline that highlights when new program categories or additional populations served were added to Anixter Center services. As this list evolves and bears witness to our long, varied history and deep commitment to people with disabilities, we continue to broaden our focus to tackle obstacles faced by individuals with disabilities, and help them find ways to expand their potential.

All of these programs are for children or adults with disabilities:

  • 1957 … built school to educate children
  • 1961 … added classroom to educate and train adults
  • 1961 … opened workshop to employ people for packaging projects
  • 1969 … expanded vocational training program
  • 1974 … secured a facility to provide housing
  • 1974 … initiated first job training program in an industrial setting
  • 1976 … expanded training into job skills development
  • 1981 … started janitorial service business to employ more people
  • 1982 … began supported living arrangement program
  • 1982 … reopened school to teach students not served by traditional school systems
  • 1983 … began serving those with behavior disorders and/or hearing impairments
  • 1984 … developed support group living programs for individuals with mental illness
  • 1989 … added imaging services for more employment opportunities
  • 1989 … began operating community integrated living arrangements
  • 1990 … started community reintegration program for people with brain injuries 
  • 1990 … initiated a literacy program
  • 1990 … began substance abuse program
  • 1991 … developed addition recovery program for the deaf
  • 1992 … offered case management services
  • 1997 … acquired CALOR, offering HIV/AIDS prevention services to Latino community  
  • 1997 … merged with Chicago Hearing Society
  • 1997 … added food service training program to help aid employment
  • 1999 … constructed pediatric residences for medically fragile children
  • 2000 … helped facilitate the opening of an accessible playground
  • 2001 … began operation of an adult community transition program
  • 2003 … acquired National Lekotek Center
  • 2003 … offered telephones and interpreter services through Chicago Hearing Services
  • 2011 … extended CALOR’s mission to include individuals of color living with HIV/AIDS

Over the years, Anixter Center has matured into an assemblage of 37 programs that serve over 7,400 children and adults with disabilities. With help from organizations, companies, other agencies and individuals, Anixter Center continues to improve the lives of people with disabilities and support their efforts to live, learn, work and play in their communities.