Until September, Nick Turner was the “social cook” among the participants in the EAGLES II program of the South East Association for Special Parks and Recreation (SEASPAR) that teaches life skills to developmentally disabled adults.
It wasn’t that the 32-year-old Turner didn’t want to help out his fellow EAGLES members prepare lunches in the kitchen in the lower-level recreation area of the Brookfield Village Hall. Rather, it was tough to get his motorized wheel through the door and all but impossible to move around in the narrow galley kitchen once he was in there.
It was tough for anyone to do much, for that matter.
“It was very small,” said Jacqueline Kielch, a 36-year-old Brookfield resident who joined the EAGLES program in January. “It was hard to make stuff, because not too many people could go in.”
But on Sept. 26, Turner and Kielch were working away in the village hall kitchen alongside the other 10 EAGLES members in a three-team apple cook-off following a trip earlier that day to an orchard. Kielch’s team won the contest, baking a mean apple cobbler
That’s because over the summer, the 1972-era kitchen received a complete makeover courtesy of the village, SEASPAR and a host of others who donated items or provided kitchen equipment and construction at reduced prices.
At a ribbon-cutting event Sept. 20, more than 60 people turned out to dedicate the new kitchen, which is used when the EAGLES program meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If the program sees more demand, it could add a Tuesday-Thursday section as well.
“It’s not only great for them, but it’s great for the village,” said Village Manager Riccardo Ginex. “The kitchen was in terrible shape. We could never have done this [ourselves].”
The EAGLES program is geared toward adults with developmental disabilities, ages 22 and up. Providing those adults with basic life skills, such as preparing food, is essential, said Laura Christensen, the EAGLES coordinator.
“Part of [the program’s] budget is that we have lunch together,” said Christensen. “They learn about loading and unloading the dishwasher, setting the table, basic stuff. There is such a need for programs like this for this age group.”
The EAGLES II program started in January in the Brookfield Village Hall, the first local site for a SEASPAR program. The village has been a member of the special recreation association since 2007.
The western portion of the lower-level recreation area has been turned into an EAGLES nest, so to speak. Half of the area was transformed earlier this year into a living room-type space. The carpeted area has a pair of couches, a wall-mounted flat-panel TV, a Blu-ray DVD player, an area where participants can check email or surf the Web on desktop and laptop computers.
Home Depot provided cabinets, flooring, tile, countertops and appliances at a reduced cost. Also providing discounts on supplies and labor were Wayne Connell Plumbing, Tim Schutt of Schutt Construction, Terry Marcell of Marcell Electric, Bill Vail of LaGrange Hardwood & Flooring and Jeff Pieta at All Information Services.
Riverside resident Steve Campbell donated the TV and DVD player, while the couches were donated by Walter E. Smithe in conjunction with Klaussner Furniture, where Ginex’s wife, Karen, works as a sales rep.
Brookfield’s Public Works Department handled demo and finish work. Ginex singled out public works employee Karl “Bubba” Tokmanian for his efforts in scheduling contractors and keeping the project moving.