GTL participants got a chance to be one with nature—the nature of animals, that is. A trip to Lincoln Park Zoo offered some surprises by being up close to witness how animals behave. As one participant, Kaisa, put it, “There were fishes flying under water! I also liked the color of the birds and the hair on the two big lions.” Dexter had three favorites: “The armadillo, the monkeys, and the birds.” The zoo was not only about animals for some participants such as for Coleen and Adam. Coleen said, “I like being with my friends.” For Adam, “Driving the tractor at the Farm in the Zoo was my best time.”


These outings are an important and effective way for GTL’s participants to learn and develop, and they require dollars for them to occur. If you are encouraged by what you have read in the article please go to and make a donation for a future outing. Any amount results in something good for our Gateway community.



Gateway School Picnic





Family Picnic—Rolling Out the Days of Summer







Zoo Sightings







The July 14th Lincoln Square Farmers’ Market had the GTL booth buzzing with great conversation, people buying cookies and making donations while learning more about who we are. GTL participants Coleen, Mario, and Sherri worked the crowd making all visitors feel welcomed. They did a great job enticing passersby’s with the tagline: “Best cookies in Chicago,” generating curiosity and interest in GTL. A new Farmers’ Market volunteer, Kate Jarosch, is a new Albany Park resident. Kate was looking for volunteer opportunities when she met GTL Board member Victor Bernstein at a networking event. Kate sees the Farmers’ Market as her opportunity to connect with people and to help promote Gateway’s presence in the community. We thank Kate for the contribution she’s making to Gateway. And thanks to the staff and Victor Bernstein who prepped the booth so that everyone could work their magic!


No one knows that better than instructor Aldona Zalesinski and development trainer Rose Adorable whose love of art reaches their participants in Room 212. As Lixcet exclaims: "Aldona and Rose help me make beautiful art projects to take home and show my family!" Also if you walk down the halls of Gateway, the boards are decorated with artwork for all to enjoy. Art comes in all forms, so music also plays a big role in the learning activities taking place in Room 212. Participants get the opportunity to hear their own singing voices and dance to the music.

There’s also work to be done. The participants in Room 212 pick up every classroom’s towels and aprons to be washed, dried, folded and redistributed, and they are always available to help in getting out the cookie orders. Wioleta sums up learning in Room 212 this way: "I love working with this group and having different activities every day; Aldona and Rose make the day so much fun!"

It’s that time of the year when the snow turns into rain, the sun starts shining, leaves start sprouting, and flowers start blooming. We at Gateway love when Spring comes around, and we get to go out in the Lincoln Square community to enjoy the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. Plans are in the works to get our participants more involved in the activities and events happening in Lincoln Square for their learning and growth. In turn, the people and businesses in the community get to know more about Gateway, an important initiative that will ensure Gateway’s continued presence in the lives of our participants. In addition, we are asking all Gateway families to spread the word about Gateway in their own communities, which can be accomplished in several ways:

  1. Sell our bakery goods outside your church or community centers.
  2. Invite community members for our fundraising and social events.
  3. Bring friends & family members out to the Can-Do Café for coffee.
  4. Volunteer to work the Lincoln Square Farmers’ Market this summer.

Let us know how you’re spreading the word about Gateway through your conversations and involvement with the people in our community. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


As parents and caregivers of special needs adults, you’re either attending to their present well-being or thinking and planning for their secure future. It’s a big responsibility – one that requires continuous learning about available resources, changing laws and opportunities. Gerry King, lawyer and senior vice president at Fairhaven Wealth Management LLC, and friend of Gateway, will be providing that information in his new GTL Gazette column, “Managing Your Child’s Life.” For 18 years he has been providing objective, comprehensive financial planning and advisory services for families who have loved ones with special needs.                                    


I’m writing this column to help GTL parents and caregivers feel confident about the decisions they are making for their child and to enable them to take the appropriate action that benefits the whole family. As everyone’s situation is different, I am happy to be a resource for anyone who has further questions. I can be reached here.


We are all aware of the importance of getting our financial and legal affairs in order. For parents of children with disabilities, the importance of doing advance planning is magnified. There are numerous issues facing parents of children with special needs. Perhaps one of the biggest concerns is how to provide for your child when you are no longer around. While there is no perfect replacement for the parents’ love and care, some planning methods are better than others.


Special Needs Trust


The primary purpose of a Special Needs Trust (SNT) is to set aside money for your disabled loved one without jeopardizing their ability to receive government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is because the beneficiary will not actually own the assets. In general, the trustee will supplement the beneficiary’s government benefits, but not replace them. Examples of supplemental needs are costs for special therapies, wheelchairs, and other medical expenses not covered by Medicaid. In general, the trust can provide resources for services or items that would enrich the beneficiary’s life. Several requirements must be met when establishing a SNT.

  1. The trustee must be given absolute control over the distribution of the trust assets. Neither the beneficiary nor anyone acting on his behalf can demand distributions be made from the trust.
  2. The beneficiary cannot have authority to revoke or amend the trust. Otherwise the trust assets would be deemed an available resource to the beneficiary, and he or she could lose his public benefits.
  3. The trustee should not give cash outright to a beneficiary receiving SSI, as this would cause an immediate dollar-for-dollar reduction of loss of public benefits.

While there are different types of SNTs, a third party SNT is a great estate planning vehicle for parents and others who want to leave an inheritance to an individual with disabilities. It is funded with assets that are owned by parents, relatives or friends, but not assets owned by the trust beneficiary. Parents frequently say that their greatest worry is how their child with disabilities will fare once the parents have passed away. Not only will a third party SNT shelter an intended inheritance, it can be used during the parents’ lifetimes for ongoing expenses that are not covered by government entitlements.

Another attraction of the third party SNT is that when the beneficiary dies, there is no Medicaid payback requirement. Also, the person who creates the SNT has complete control over selection of the remainder beneficiaries when your loved one passes away. This is significant when there are other children as well.

There are many other important items to consider, which is why you should always deal with an attorney and other experts in this process. For example, since the child should not receive assets directly, it is very important to coordinate your beneficiary designations properly. You should also have conversations with other family members or friends who may be thinking about leaving your loved one money. You do not want your plan jeopardized by the best intentions of others. If you have not yet considered establishing a Special Needs Trust, I strongly urge you to take the first step and contact an attorney now!

Gateway to Learning
Special Education
and Training Center

4925 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-2609

P. 773-784-3200
F. 773-784-3299

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4925 N. Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625-2609  

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