SUGAR GROVE – Canopy, a day program for adults with autism in Sugar Grove, recently got a brand new kitchen and laundry and restroom facilities, thanks in part to two recent College of DuPage graduates who helped with the project's design.
Kelly Cone of Sugar Grove and Connie Imler of Antioch, who both graduated from the interior design program in 2018, participated in the project under the guidance of COD instructor Suzann Nordstrom.
According to a news release from College of DuPage, the new space provides valuable opportunities for clients to learn and enhance their independence.
“The addition of this facility means that we can focus on helping participants build important life skills,” stated Lillian Peterson, Director of Canopy Adult Services, in the news release. “Many of the individuals who we serve still live with their families and caregivers. Having a sense of independence enriches the lives of our clients and also makes it easier on those caregivers.”
Cone stated in the release that having the opportunity to work with an organization focused on doing good in the community, such as Canopy, is personally fulfilling.
“Giving back to my community is important to me,” she stated. “This is an organization that allows adults with autism to continue to progress even after they’re done with school. It’s important for people to know that helping others should be associated with anything we do.”
Peterson applauded Cone and Imler’s commitment to designing the space so that it works best for Canopy’s clients, saying they put a great amount of effort into making it accessible for adults on the autism spectrum.
Nordstrom was impressed by Cone and Imler’s persistence shown during the process, which began while Cone and Imler were both students at COD.
“They were very flexible in their approach,” she said. “They went through a variety of modifications during this process and they stuck with it, which is not always easy to do.”
Michael Slusarz, President of Slusarz Corporation, and Dan McFadden, President of PB Kitchen Design, both played key roles in the installation of the new space. They described working with Nordstrom, Cone and Imler as a pleasant experience and said they could not have asked for a better effort from the team of designers.
“The COD design team was great,” McFadden stated in the release. “They had good ideas of what the facility should be. For anything that was asked of them, they handled it well and with a fresh approach. We wanted them to learn from it and they did.”
Overall, more than 20 organizations, businesses and partners committed time and resources to the completion of the space.
“There were people who stepped up in every aspect,” Peterson stated in the release. “Everyone was proud to be a part of this. Many people involved actually have a personal connection to someone with autism, so it was a relatable experience. That was amazing to me.”
Canopy is a division of Giant Steps, an organization serving children and young adults on the autism spectrum in the Chicago area. Canopy specifically serves adult clients through individualized programming that supports participants in lifelong learning and engagement.