Sam Challa, 38, of New Lenox, loves music and couldn’t wait to try out the drums at Trinity Services’ new Studio 22.
Now Challa, a client at the New Lenox nonprofit, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities or mental health needs, had never played the drums.
But he likes drums just the same.
“A friend of mine practices the drums,” Challa said.
Studio 22 is Trinity Services’ new community day services program, which is located in a converted 10,000-square-foot warehouse in New Lenox. The clients so far are age 30 and up and approximately 35 are participating, Kevin Krauss, program coordinator, said.
Trinity Services had formerly used that space to manufacture a line of human-safe cleaning products, Krauss said.
That’s because manufacturing programs once resulted in good work opportunities for people with developmental disabilities, according to Trinity Services.
The trend today for people with developmental disabilities is to work individually in jobs in the areas of “health and education, government, local businesses, retail, and manufacturing,” Trinity Services said.
“There’s been a shift at the national policy level to do away with segregated employment,” Thane Dykstra, president and CEO of Trinity Services, said in a news release from the nonprofit. “We wanted to get away from that and convert our warehouse to this more creative and inviting space that offers participants rich and diverse activities. There’s no doubt, Studio 22 will help people flourish.”
During the pandemic, Trinity Services transformed the warehouse into a music room, a kitchen, and a large room for learning dance moves on a recent Hawaiian-themed day, performing yoga, tending hydroponic plants, and taking part in arts and crafts and other program activities.
All programs are designed to “pair positive emotions with a sense of achievement,” Krauss said.
“You’re enjoying what you’re doing and forgetting about the sense of time,” Krauss said. “We just want them to come out for the day and create a meaningful day for them.”
The music room holds a grand piano and multiple drums sets along with a variety of percussion instruments, Krauss said. Clients can write and record their own songs and play their own music, he said.
“From that, we’d like to involve them in making videos, whether that’s a karaoke video or their own composition,” Krauss said.
In the kitchen, clients have created a variety of freshly squeezed juices and craft sodas, such as root beer.
“We call it our brew kitchen,” Krauss said, later adding, “As we get better at it, we’d even like to be able to bottle them. But we’re just in the beginning phase of this, so it’s not happening yet.”
Why teach clients to brew and bottle soda?
“It’s an accomplishment,” Krauss said. “They get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
The clients’ interests, so far, are as varied as the activities. Like Challa, Robert Stanton, 51, said he is drawn to music, especially the grand piano. Karen Merk, 44, prefers arts and crafts and said she enjoyed making a wreath from popsicle sticks.
Sue Andreano, 50, said she loved making a Hawaiian salad in Studio 22′s kitchen on a recent Hawaiian-themed day and she loved creating art.
“We painted flowers – hibiscus,” Andreano said. “That’s Hawaii’s state flower.”
One “unique feature” of the program is an aquaponics system, where waste from tropical fish in a large aquarium is recirculated into nutrition for a large bed of adjacent plants, Krauss said.
“Down the road, we’d like to add leafy greens and tomatoes,” Krauss said.
State Sen. Michael E. Hastings, who represents the 19th District, “helped secure a $200,000 state grant” to fund Studio 22, according to Trinity Services.
For more information about Studio 22, visit trinityservices.org or call 815-485-6197.