From humble beginnings in 1966 to today’s organization that serves more than 200 individuals daily, MALCOLM EATON Enterprises has evolved to continually meet the demands of people with disabilities in Stephenson County.
The organization incorporated as the Association for Retarded Children of Stephenson County and was originally a day care center providing classroom services for children with disabilities who were not being served in the public school system. In January 1967, the group opened its first production center in downtown Freeport with major support from both individuals and local industry. Eight consumers attended.
In 1968, the organization changed its name to the Association for the Handicapped of Stephenson County. By 1974, a Birth to Three, Early Intervention Services program started. Early Intervention eventually served hundreds of children before progressing into today’s Respite program.
Production center growth boomed during the 1970s with the downtown location adding 6,000 square feet for more contract work. By the early 1980s, it was time to move. A property donation and public fund-raising campaign made the June 1983 relocation to the current facility at 570 West Lamm Road possible. Shortly after, the organization changed its name to MALCOLM EATON Enterprises, honoring Malcolm Eaton — a longtime volunteer “who made a difference.”
The late 1980s saw the start of the Supported Employment Program, now known as the Community Employment Program (CEP). CEP assists individuals with developing job skills that will help them find independent employment in the community. In the 1990’s, the Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) program began. In the CILA program, individuals are given a chance to live in the community while under the supervision of trained staff. In the CILA program, people are taught basic living skills such as cooking, cleaning and laundry so that they can work towards greater independence.
The Spirit Story
In 2002, MALCOLM EATON Enterprises took its production center to a new level by manufacturing a product of its own: bathroom tissue. You might wonder why a not-for-profit agency would decide to make and sell bathroom tissue. The answer is simple: Because of the opportunities. Spirit allows us to grow the spirit of our organization. It teaches important job skills and instills pride in the individuals receiving services at MEE.
After four years of success, selling bathroom tissue to government agencies across the state of Illinois, MALCOLM EATON Enterprises decided to add a retail product. In 2006, MEE launched the Spirit brand, and began distributing it to stores across our region.
Today, Malcolm Eaton provides high quality services to individuals in Stephenson and Winnebago Counties. Each day, over 200 adults with developmental disabilities attend Developmental Training services at Malcolm Eaton.