Tucked along Parker Road in Homer Glen, Shady Oaks Camp is home to residents who receive services and attend programming through Lutheran Social Services of Illinois.
The homes are separately leased and have no affiliation with Shady Oaks Camp, which is nondenominational.
Peotone native Chris Blogg said he has found comfort living in the Homer Glen facility for the past nine years.
“I came from living at my parents house,” he said. “I’ve never been on my own until I came here. It took a while to get used to it, but once I was here I got used to it pretty quickly.”
Blogg is one of a number of developmentally disabled adults who live in the facilities at Shady Oaks Camp.
According to the Center for Disease and Control, research shows one in six—or approximately 15 percent—of children ages 3-17 years have one or more developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder or cerebral palsy.
Laterria Bass, a supervisor at Shady Oaks, said a lot of moving parts play a role in keeping the facilities running to the benefit of the community.
“We assist them with their everyday needs,” she said. “We also take them out into the community to doctor’s appointments, stuff that we’ll do all the time—movies, games, restaurants.”
Blogg noted that assistance provided by Lutheran Social Services has been a positive, and staff played an important role in helping him acclimate to the environment when he first moved in.
“Where I was before, I didn’t have very much transportation or anything,” he said. “It was harder for me to do things. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been able to do more than I ever I thought I would do, as far as like activities and going places. I’d go places with my family when they were around, but it’s easier. I’ve done more things here than I did when I was growing up, because of transportation and stuff.”
Bass said acclimating new clients to the facility is a priority of the agency.
“We had a few coming from home,” she said. “This is a big transition coming from home where you get to wake and do whatever, to a schedule and being around 15 other clients. It’s a change.”
Bass noted that the facility received a new client recently, and said it is all a matter of reaching out to people in ways that are beneficial to them.
“When they’re new—depending on the client—some like to be active and some just want to be left alone,” she said. “We do pay special attention to the ones who are new, so they can feel more comfortable.”
Blogg said thanks to the staff at Shady Oaks Camp he is able to access transportation and that provides a lot of help for him both socially and health-wise.
“I do things with the Orland Park [recreation department],” he said. “It’s through [Shady Oaks] that I got involved in that. I do like weight lifting. So, it helps with meeting people and keeping fit.”
Blogg said the facility has changed over the years as far as staff and residents, but otherwise the experience remains positive.
The Homer Glen facility has been open for roughly a quarter-century.