GTL is proud to announce the hiring of John Ratzenberger as the organization’s new Director of Marketing & Development. John comes to the organization after working nearly 15 years in nonprofit organizations with 12 of those years of in marketing, advocacy and development for disability support organizations.
John’s primary responsibilities will be to market the organization and Can-Do Café, cultivate business relationships and build opportunities for fundraising. John started on August 1st and implemented phase I of his marketing strategy.
Thanks to The Coleman Foundation, GTL was awarded a significant grant that allowed John to create a marketing campaign for Dorothy’s Can-Do Café. The campaign created billboards in Lincoln Square and mobile telephone ads to generate 2.2 million impressions on over 211,000 individuals.
John’s vision is to build stronger relation-ships with current and future donors of GTL. The first step is to make it easy for donors to interact with the organization. He is building a communication system whereby donors can electronically subscribe to newsletters and special events, and manage personal information and donation history.
According to John, the highlight of his work is mining GTL’s potential for going from good to great.
In case the name was ringing a bell, no, John is not the actor from the television show, Cheers.
Gateway has been very fortunate to have educational and administrative professionals who are dedicated to its mission and the development of its participants. They have impressive backgrounds in their field and a story to tell. In this edition meet:
If Maggie Zukowska, Facilitation Director, had a title for her GTL story it might read: “Maggie’s Gateway Gang – A Love Story.”
Maggie came to GTL 20 years ago credentialed as an elementary education teacher in her native Poland not speaking a word of English. Dorothy Hough hired her on the spot. Maggie claims her hiring was a miracle. Along with her language challenge, she had no experience working with individuals with special needs. Therefore, Maggie questioned her “fit” in her role at GTL. It only took a month of observing and interacting with GTL participants that Maggie said, “This is my place!”
What Maggie saw so clearly is that GTL’s participants are smart and have feelings which they use to relate to others. Consequently, she has made it her life-long mission to create an environment that invokes joy in the moment and to share the love which she has for each participant. While living this mission, Maggie has come to see herself as a magnet for fun and having a “Velcro” heart attaching to each heart she encounters during her day. Maggie is the voice of GTL’s participants when they can’t speak for themselves.
In her role as Facilitation Director, Maggie is in charge of the home-based funding of GTL. Participants who are home-base funded have learning and developmental goals for independent living skills, self-care activities, community activities, and money matters skills.
Her work is a testament to loving everything about GTL. In her words: “I can’t imagine my life without Gateway.”
Recently, GTL started a partnership with BareItAll Petfoods that gives some of our individuals with special needs the opportunity for continued skill development. Individuals learn how to accurately measure the product, bag it, and then seal it. The goal of the program is to introduce activities like this to gauge a person’s interest and ability in seeking outside employment performing tasks of this nature.
BareItAll Petfoods is a local Chicago company that produces healthy pet food while keeping the environment and the community in focus. The products are made from Asian Carp, an invasive species plaguing the Midwest. This was chosen to help protect our environment while also selecting a healthy, known ingredient. For more information on the company, visit:
After 33 years, the candy-making process continues to be a foundational skill-building training program for many GTL participants. In this article you will learn more about the skills developed in this process and how two participants have achieved successful results in different ways.
Candy-making goes into full swing for the holiday seasons. The participants produce an impressive average number of 300 candy pieces per holiday. The process begins with measuring, mixing, and pouring ingredients to produce chocolate-covered goodies such as lollipops, creams, cherries, pretzels, and graham crackers. Each candy has its special flair depicting the respective holiday. The process ends with tying ribbons to the candy bags. They learn to measure and pour ingredients, pop candy out of their molds, count candy pieces, bag candy, and tie bows. The entire process is designed to help participants either to develop, improve, or master the skill necessary for each task.
Carmen Schabelski, Developmental Trainer, uses each customer order form to instruct participants to count and insert the number of candy pieces to be placed in each bag.
Two Stories of Success
Successful results in the process is measured by achieving the skill level designated for each task.
Meet Vivianne (left). Her skill style is exacting, her motor skills quick and precise. She has a set stand-ard for tying a beautiful bow on a candy package. As a result of her style and the personal enjoyment she gets from producing candy, Vivianne has mas-tered every task in the process in two days.
Meet Elizabeth (right). Elizabeth’s performance style can be characterized as confident. According to Carmen, “She has so much confidence; it pours into every one of her tasks. She is perfect in everything she does.”
You would see her everywhere around GTL –the kitchen, the classroom, and the candy table at the Holiday Bazaar. After 37 years at GTL, Mary Ann Anda hung up her apron and left a timeless candy-making legacy and sweet memories. “Ms. Anda”, as she was affectionately and respectfully called by her colleagues and participants, always worked from the sidelines, yet her presence was felt everywhere.
If she wasn’t prepping the candy-making process for her participants, she was monitoring lunch selections and lending a hand to whomever needed it. Her right-hand assistant, Carmen Schabelski, describes her as light-hearted (she recites limericks), a traditionalist (the candy recipes used today date back to the 1960’s), and generous (on hand to give of her own whenever it was needed).
We thank you, Mary Ann Anda, for your devotion to GTL and the life-long impact of your contribution to our mission.
Featured Charity – Gateway to Learning Special Education and Training Center:
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