Illuminating Stories, Choice, Independence and Inclusion

Dear Friends,

At Envision Unlimited, there has always been a light shining from within to guide the work we do on behalf of people with disabilities. We take our role very seriously to illuminate the stories of our inspiring members, compassionate staff and generous donors and volunteers.

Every day, we get to be part of vital work to help more than 3,500 members and their families grow towards independence, experience greater community inclusion and live their best lives possible. With thousands of people on waiting lists for services like those we offer, it's critical that even more individuals learn about the impact of Envision Unlimited and the available resources that we deliver, with empathy and dignity right where you are.

Mark McHugh

Learn more about the illuminating impact of our members, staff and generous donors and volunteers.

Read More Here

Shining in the Community

Everyone has their own unique story to tell. Marion, an Envision Unlimited peer mentor, has overcome adversity and is now paying it forward for others with disabilities. Voices like Marion’s have historically been ignored. So, we continue to illuminate voices from marginalized and underserved populations through our own 3,000+ members and families, as well as from thousands of other people with disabilities across Illinois.

Stories are even more powerful when we share them. If you are moved by this story or others from Envision Unlimited, we encourage you to share them with your friends and networks. Please consider including the hashtag #unlimitedpotential.

Watch Marion's Story Here

Kindness Team Making a Difference

When there’s someone in need, you can count on our Kindness Team to offer their support. This past year, they harvested fruits and vegetables from Envision Unlimited gardens, sold them to local residents and donated profits to a charity dedicated to helping people in the Ukraine.

As one of the team’s most recent projects, members stepped up to help our DSP Stephanee Dondle-Brown, who lost all of her belongings and keepsakes in a house fire this spring. They created a flier to spread the word about the GofundMe page that has been established for her. Proceeds will go toward a new apartment, household items and clothes.


“Stephanee … has the biggest heart for all her family, friends and Envision members,” the team wrote in the flier. We can't wait to see what they do next!

Our Bright Star: Reyanna Johnson

When we say our 300+ direct support professionals (DSPs) are the best, we mean it. On behalf of everyone at Envision Unlimited, we’d like to extend a hearty congratulations to our very own Reyanna Johnson for being named a DSP of the Year by The ARC of Illinois, a respected disability advocacy organization. Johnson has been with our team for nearly 14 years and works as a DSP/training counselor for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at our Edwin and Florence Frick Center.

“Reyanna has shown us all what teamwork looks like especially during times of transition,” said Kristen Noonan, Envision Unlimited day and employment services North Side administrator, when nominating Johnson for the award.

After a former colleague left the program for another position, this created a vacancy for a Special Olympics coach. Johnson stepped up to the plate, with little knowledge of what the role would entail, and became the lead staff/coach. This gave the aspiring athletes the opportunity to experience something new and outside of their comfort zone. 

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Show Your Autism Pride

According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month, 1 in every 36 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That’s an increase from 1 in every 44 children.

Envision Unlimited offers in-home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children between the ages of 2 and 17 who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Check out our tips for teaching autism acceptance year round and how we can help your family. 

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Illuminating Bright Futures

Our Bright Futures Ball was truly a remarkable evening filled with inspiring stories and remarks from people impacted by the evolving care that Envision Unlimited delivers with empathy, every time and everywhere. Thanks to roughly 400 long-time supporters and new friends in attendance, we raised more than $345,000 that helps us support our members and their caregivers to live fulfilling, self-determined lives.

See our favorite moments here.

A highlight of the night came from Envision Unlimited Humanitarian Award recipient Dorothy O’Malley, who chronicled her decades of service as an Envision board member, board chair and sage counsel. Dorothy’s unwavering support has resulted in expanded programs, services and the number of members we serve. We’re now beyond 3,000 members!

In addition to providing services for intellectual and developmental disabilities, Envision has become a Illinois leader in moving individuals with mental illness out of institutional settings. Over the past year, our organization has helped move 125 individuals from psychiatric hospitals and nursing homes to their own apartment – a 60% increase from the previous year. We’re very proud of that statistic, and we will continue to work tirelessly to provide even greater choice and independence to people with disabilities.

As our President and CEO Mark McHugh said, there is still plenty of work to be done. About 15,000 people with developmental disabilities and thousands more with serious mental health illness are still waiting for services in Illinois. Contributions help us strengthen our foundation so we can respond in an even bigger way.

If you’d like to see more highlights from that memorable night, we invite you to check out our photo gallery. Please note: These photos are only for viewing. Follow us on social media for even more moments from our Bright Futures Ball.

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Brightening Chicago Homes

Our members' artwork is brightening homes across the city, thanks to Brad Pierce, creative director of HAVEN Home Staging and Redesign, Inc. Just before the pandemic, he purchased several paintings created by Envision Unlimited artists, which his company will use when staging homes. Pierce and his company are also donating furniture for our upcoming our DreamHome – a state-of-the-art, ADA-compliant and accessible group home for seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Watch for more updates on the construction of our DreamHome.

Photo: Brad Pierce (left) with Envision Unlimited Board Member Peter Ho.

Donate for a Good Cause

We’re participating in the myWalgreens donation program! You can donate your myWalgreens cash rewards to ENVISION UNLIMITED through May 31, 2023. At Walgreens, you’ll earn unlimited 1% Walgreens Cash rewards when you shop and you can choose how much to donate. It’s that easy. Whether you’d like to contribute $1, $5, or more of your Walgreens Cash rewards you’ll be making a big difference. It really adds up!

A Plunge for Charity

Chicago’s 23rd Annual Polar Plunge courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

Our very own Human Resources Coordinator, Joe Cardinal, got more than just his feet wet when he participated in Chicago’s 23rd Annual Polar Plunge for the first time this spring!

Nearly 5,000 people, including Cardinal, gathered for the event, which serves as a yearly fundraiser for local athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Cardinal is just one of a number of people from Envision Unlimited active supporting Special Olympics events. Earlier this year, members from our Frick Center traveled to Galena to compete against other Illinois athletes in three days of Special Olympics snowshoe racing. Dana J. and Marjorie C. earned a silver and gold medal, respectively.

Cardinal credits his younger cousin, who also has a disability, with inspiring him to partake in the Polar Plunge.

“I had a good amount of nervous anticipation the days and weeks leading up to the event day because I just did not know what to expect,” Cardinal said. “After completing the plunge, I found myself really enjoying the entire experience of fundraising for an amazing cause, completing the event with an amazing group of people, and seeing how many people can come together to support the event.”

This year’s plunge raised more than $2 million, and Cardinal already has plans to participate again next year. But how cold was the water? Lake Michigan's temperature was reported to be 42 degrees that morning. Cardinal, however, said the water was still “FREEZING!!”

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Put Your Pedal to the Metal!

As the weather warms up, you’ll be seeing even more of Envision Unlimited out in the community. Through our unique Adaptive Cycling program, members and volunteers take to the trails for weekly rides that are downright fun while helping build independence and community inclusion. To support more member experiences and empower greater mobility for people with disabilities, we have a fleet of bikes that include singles, tandems, tricycles, and duet bikes.  We have also participated in the citywide Bike The Drive, with member, volunteers and generous donors coming together as part of Team Envision to raise awareness and money for our organization.

This year, plans are underway for a full summer of cycling events to introduce the Chicagoland area to our Adaptive Cycling program with rides, demonstrations, a BBQ and more that culminates Labor Day weekend on Lake Shore Drive with Bike the Drive where supporters can participate riding solo or on a tandem bike with one of our members.

Watch for more details coming soon!

Lending a Hand at La Casa Norte

At Envision Unlimited, our members are always helping others. Many of them recently began volunteering at La Casa Norte, a nonprofit organization that supports people facing homelessness or financial stress through stable housing, food and services. Volunteers are expected to efficiently unload deliveries, stock shelves for the affiliated food pantry and assist families experiencing food insecurity with “choice shopping.” Our members have also been instrumental in communicating with Spanish-speaking shoppers, as many La Casa Norte staff members do not speak Spanish.

Check out the article they wrote about their meaningful experiences in Vol. 52 of Unlimited Voices. Flip to page 2!

Unlimited Voices

Want to see life through the eyes of our Envision Unlimited members? Check out Vol. 54 of their bi-weekly newsletter, Unlimited Voices, where they share their experiences at our Bright Futures Ball, a recent trip to Stan’s Donuts & Coffee in Rosemont and more.

Envision Unlimited is a full spectrum of care organization serving people with disabilities from ages 2–80+ years old regardless of race, gender, religion, or ability to pay. Founded in Chicago in 1948, Envision Unlimited has a legacy of evolving care delivered with empathy, every time and everywhere. To learn more, please visit

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