In 1971 POW-R Sertoma Club joined forces with two other Chicago-area Sertoma clubs to meet a community need. These clubs decided to take on an enormous venture that no other organization of its kind had considered tackling: to build a job training facility to give adults with disabilities a place to work.
The site was donated by the M.A. Lombard Co. Over the next twelve months these Sertomans were able to motivate local businessmen and tradesmen to donate time and materials to construct a 3,200-square-foot building. Club members spent countless hours and efforts on projects to complete the building. The facility opened September 10, 1971, and was called the Sertoma Job Training Center. The Sertoma Centre started with one program, four staff members, and 11 clients in a 3,200 square foot building. In 1987, the name changed to Sertoma Career Center and supported more than 200 adults with disabilities.
In 1993, the name was changed to the Sertoma Centre to fit the directives that were taking place as that time. The continuing success of the Centre can be attributed to the underlying mission of the founding Sertoma members and organizations like the POW-R Sertoma Club. Their goal was to enable adults with disabilities to do something for themselves and the community by giving them the opportunity to work. Today, the Centre places in jobs or employs many disabled adults who now are able to live more independently as tax-paying citizens. The goal has never changed – to help people with disabilities – only the scope and the programs have expanded exponentially.
It offers a wide variety of day programs, vocational training, job placement and permanent housing, so individuals can live independently in the community. Sertoma Centre operates 3 facilities in the near south suburbs of Alsip and Matteson, serving over 1,700 people, 8 shared homes (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) with 24-hour supports to individuals with disabilities, and a fleet of vans to serve the clients in all of its programs.
The Centre offers the south suburbs Community Mental Health and Counseling programs from its location in Matteson, IL.
It opened its first permanent supportive housing apartment building located in Homewood, IL predominantly for individuals living with mental illness in 2016. Sertoma Centre has begun construction on another supportive housing apartment building in Orland Park, IL with an expected opening date in 2022. For more information, call 708-371-9700 or visit the website at www.sertomacentre.org.
The Sertoma Centre has served thousands of individuals since the inception of the organization and has an annual budget of more than $16 million.
The POW-R Sertoma Club has also been a key supporter of the Sertoma Speech and Hearing Center, located in Palos Hills with a satellite office in Crest Hills. This Center provides hearing testing, corrective devices and special instructions to those people who have hearing and speech problems. Services are provided at fees based on the individual ability to pay so no one is denied services. All of the Sertoma clubs in the Central Illinois District support this facility.
POW-R Sertoma Club also supports many local community charities throughout the year as they are needed.