Our commitment to promoting independence and dignity to individuals with autism permeates all of Rimland, not just our approach to proactive education and our Community Day Services, but our entire thought process in designing our residential homes.
The importance of community with regard to social, mental, and emotional wellness cannot be overstated. Rimland has long been committed to the goal of re-personalizing the world for individuals with autism, using an intentional, participatory process to teach or enhance basic life skills. We are pioneers in proactively creating safe, soothing environments, designed to reduce common triggers for individuals with autism, promote basic hygiene, and encourage independence within a home-like setting. We strive to create supportive housing that responds to the unique needs of our clients, with a goal to create beautiful and nurturing homes that any of our staff or families would want to live in. We design and build homes that respond to the needs of individuals with autism instead of expecting our residents to conform to the their environment in ways that are unrealistic; we are not satisfied with simply meeting group home standards.
For a population some believe may not recognize the benefits of community living, Rimland’s leadership has long believed small group, residential living draws individuals with autism into the larger world. Living with peers offers friendship, companionship and a sense of community where each looks out for the other. Through working and playing together, a strong social fabric develops.
We are also proud to call ourselves “Developers” since late 2009. Under the award of our Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grant from the Bureau of Economic Development Department of Planning and Development, Rimland was awarded the title of ‘Developer.’ Developers are the coordinators of the activities who convert ideas on paper into real property. Since 2009 and with assistance provided by the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, we have purchased four single-family homes in Evanston’s “areas of greatest need.” “Areas of greatest need” are measured based on criteria outlined in Cook County’s Substantial Amendment to its Consolidated Plan, areas with the largest number of subprime mortgages, services of persons 50% or below Average Median Income, areas identified within the targeted areas that could benefit from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program through the purchase of foreclosed and/or abandoned properties, and targeting of special needs populations and other populations that have been affected by foreclosed and abandoned properties. After purchasing the homes, Rimland invested significant resources and energy into renovating the homes into extraordinary places for the individuals we support to live.
We recognize that, for many families, moving a loved one to a residential care setting is the most difficult decision they will ever face. With our commitment to dignified living and respectful care, we believe Rimland is changing the face of care for individuals with autism. We welcome you to explore our approach, our Community Day Services, and our homes.
Environmental improvements to our Residential locations is also a commitment we make to our community
In the beginning of 2013 Rimland installed our second solar thermal system on one of our group homes in Evanston. Our first solar thermal system was installed on another group home in Evanston in the spring of 2012. As a non-for-profit organization Rimland is continuously seeking ways to conserve and reduce our energy output for the purpose of reducing our ecological footprint as well as a method of conserving costs. Rimland is a growing organization that has provided unique support to individuals with autism since 1971. Currently Rimland operates nineteen group homes. As we expand our organization we feel it is necessary to do our part to support an ecologically friendly environment for the community where we operate. The installation of both solar thermal systems was made possible through a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. The Rotary Club of Evanston contributed towards the first solar thermal system while The Niles Township Government provided assistance for the second solar thermal system.
Our specific goals for this project are centered on reducing our energy output, providing practical information to local non-for-profit organizations regarding benefits of ecological conversion and seeking to save funds on our energy costs especially as time goes on and we continue to equip our homes with more energy saving products. Our goal is to make the group homes we operate as friendly to the environment as possible. Rimland is confident that our efforts will demonstrate the importance of energy conservation to other non-for-profit organizations supporting individuals through community integrated living arrangement services which is our key demographic; however, our project model would be applicable to any non-for-profit organization in both small and large settings. Since installing the solar thermal systems, we have seen a slight reduction in therms and costs on our energy bills. Homes with solar thermal systems saved an average of $153 per year. The solar hot water heater saves energy costs throughout the year but it is easier to notice during the summer months. We will continue to install energy efficient appliances in our group homes and source funding to purchase more solar panels.