For more than half a century, Oak-Leyden Developmental Services has been helping children and adults with developmental disabilities right here in our community. Now this nonprofit agency has found the tables turned as it is the recipient of a helping hand — from its good neighbor Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

As program participants and staff began their morning one day in July, they noticed the normally spotless floor of its facility on Chicago Avenue littered with what looked like insulation. Further investigation led Marcy Nelson, chief of vocational programs at Oak-Leyden, to believe that there was a problem with the ceiling. Nelson’s thoughts were of the safety of the participants as she and her staff led them to a nearby park on what was, fortunately, a beautiful morning.

Nelson then phoned maintenance, subsequently an architect, and then the Oak Park Township building inspector to determine if there was, in fact, a real danger. She learned later that her instinctive response was warranted — that the roof needed to be repaired before the 85 day program participants could return.

Realizing it could take up to a month before they could re-enter the building, her overriding concern was to find a suitable location for the group to meet. After a number of calls, she received great news. Pastor Robert Lietz, of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, would be pleased to accommodate Oak-Leyden’s Developmental Training Program. The church’s bright lower level, industrial kitchen, and lunch room were spacious and attractive. And Oak-Leyden’s choir was even invited to practice in the church’s chapel.

As repairs to Oak-Leyden’s roof are underway, it has become evident that the length of time Oak-Leyden needs to complete the project is even longer than originally anticipated. Pastor Lietz again came to the rescue by kindly and generously offering his church’s facilities as long as they are needed.

Oak-Leyden expressed its deep appreciation to Pastor Lietz and his congregation at its annual meeting and dinner in July. Bob Atkinson, Oak-Leyden’s president and CEO, paid tribute to the church’s generous spirit and hospitality. Church representatives John Swanson and Adam Benson were called to the podium in the Cheney Mansion’s elegant living room to accept a certificate of gratitude for coming to their neighbor’s aid.

Oak-Leyden Developmental Services

Oak Park

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