All posts by Mary Ann Vanaria

April 30, 2017 General Meeting Review

Our upcoming events were discussed.

  • On June 26, 2017, the golf outing will be held at Royal Melbourne Country Club. This event is our largest fundraiser and volunteers, donations and golfers are needed for this special golf outing.  All funds raised will be used to assist the Moonshot Program to provide our residents with the best direct care staff.
  • The Day at the Races is again scheduled for Sunday, July 30. More information will be coming shortly.
  • The Illinois Friends picnic will be held at St. Marcelline’s Church grounds on August 19.
  • The Oktoberfest is scheduled for October 7 at Inverness Country Club.

At our April meeting, Mary Anne Ehlert (President and Founder) of Protected Tomorrows was the guest speaker.  Mary Anne discussed the new ABLE account that is available through the state of Illinois for disabled individuals.  This account is considered part of Section 529A of the Internal Review passed by Congress in 2014.  This allows states to establish a tax-advantaged savings account to assist persons with disabilities to save for their future without putting their federal benefits at risk.  To qualify, individuals must be disabled and entitled to benefits under the Social Security Disability Act.  Up to $14,000 per year can be placed into this account, with a maximum of $350,000.  The Illinois State Treasurer is the administrator of Illinois’ 529A program, called Illinois ABLE.

As of now, upon death of the disabled person, all funds in this account would revert back to the state of Illinois.  This “payback” is being reviewed by the state of Illinois and perhaps will be changed in the future.  For more details, you can contact Mary Anne Ehlert of Protected Tomorrows at 847-522-8086.

For more information on Illinois Friends, please visit our website at

Highlights for the year 2016


2016 was a good year for St. Coletta.  Under Ted Behnke’s leadership, St. Coletta won a 2016 Non-Profit of the Year Award in Milwaukee.

A new incentive program for staff called “Moonshot” has brought improvements to the retention of staff along with better quality candidates for open staff positions.

Andy Hancock was promoted to lead for the Illinois Program.

St. Coletta continues to make improvements and on-going maintenance to the CILA homes.

St. Coletta’s Day Program, called Achieve, started in the Illinois Hicks Road Administration Office.

Dr. Bryan Chicione, founder of the Lutheran General Down Syndrome Clinic, presented at our January, 2016 general meeting.

Our group sponsored the following events:

The annual golf outing raised approximately $36,000; the Day at the Races raised about $7,000, and Oktoberfest raised about $10,000.  Our annual picnic was held at St. Marcelline’s Church.

Our group lobbied with legislators to help support St. Coletta and the disabled population.

The popular drum circle was sponsored by our Illinois Friends group.

Due to the wonderful support of our dedicated members, family, extended family and their friends, our group was able to donate $55,000 to St. Coletta.  A check for this amount was presented to Ted Behncke at the annual Christmas party.

Achieve Program Now Open

Effective during the month of October, the Achieve Program has opened its doors.  St. Coletta of Wisconsin has now been licensed to provide day programming to our residents and outside clients.  Michelle Fuller will be heading this project, along with Andy Hancock.  The Achieve Program was developed to provide participants with a chance to socialize, exercise, participate in the community, have fun and learn.  While in the program, clients will learn – self-care skills, language skills, learning skills and self-direction skills.  For more information, please contact Andy Hancock.

8th Biennial Legislative Breakfast

Please attend the upcoming 8th Biennial Legislative Breakfast as the community welcomes our newly elected Legislators.  The event is sponsored by the North/Northwest Cook County and Lake County Work Group for people with Intellectual/Development Disabilities.  This event will be held Monday, December 5, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. at the Chevy Chase Country Club, Devonshire Room, 1000 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL  60090, Phone 847-465-2302.  For more information, please contact Joanell Voigt at 773-867-4001 or email:  This breakfast provides an opportunity our legislators, consumers, families, service providers and schools to connect with newly elected legislators.

St. Coletta Conference Held August 6 and 7

On August 6th and 7th, St. Coletta of Wisconsin held a Family Conference.  Some of the items discussed were employee salaries and benefits, the Genesis Program and the future of St. Coletta.  The presentation included the fact that now three chapels are available for our residents, including one in Illinois at the new administration offices.  The chapel services for the Illinois residents are the 3rd Tuesday of every month.

If you wish a copy of the presentation that was given by Ted Bechnke and various staff, please contact St. Coletta of Wisconsin and a copy will be emailed to you.

Andrew Hancock, QIDP

Effective March 1, 2016, Andrew Hancock has been promoted to Program Leader of the St. Coletta Illinois Program.  His office will be located in the 1991 Hicks Road, Rolling Meadows, IL.  The nurses and residential coordinators for the Illinois Program will be reporting directly to Andy. Congratulations to Andy and a big “Thank you” from our group for his dedication to the St. Coletta community.