In 1971 POW-R Sertoma joined forces with several 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.
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 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.
The Centre started with one program, four staff members, and 11 clients in a 3,200 square foot building. Currently the Centre offers 12 programs and services with a staff of more than 350 employees who serve more than 800 clients annually in three facilities. The Center also manages ten CILA homes (Community Integrated Living Arrangement) accommodating over 60 residents, and a fleet of vans to serve the clients in all of its programs.
The Centre has served thousands since the inception of the organization and has an annual budget of more than $16 million.
POW-R Sertoma has also been a key supporter of the Sertoma Speech and Hearing center, located in Palos Hills with a satellite office in Homewood. 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 also supports many local community charities throughout the year as they are needed.