Giving Tuesday 2016

November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving – A day for giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives

Black Friday – A day to score great deals for gifts for your loved ones

Small Business Saturday – A day to focus on shopping at the small businesses that help to make our community great

Cyber Monday – Another day to score great deals for gifts for your loved ones, but from the comfort of home

 There are lots of ways to save money this holiday season to give your loved ones a memorable holiday. But Giving Tuesday is a day to celebrate generosity, and to give to those that need it. People all over the world will be supporting their favorite charities on Giving Tuesday, and I ask that you consider donating to Community Link. Your donation will directly help numerous people living in your community, and we truly value your support!

 Giving Tuesday – An international day of giving to celebrate generosity

 Please consider a donation to Community Link!


Categories: Fundraising, Community, Blog

CL Recognizes Board Member for Years of Service

July 25, 2016

Community Link recently recognized Debra Baldwin for the volunteer years of service she provided as a member of Community Link’s Board of Directors. Deb recently retired from the board after three years of service. As a parent of a Community Link participant, Deb provided a valuable perspective during board discussions. Deb served on the Performance & Oversight Committee, the Metro East Marketing Committee, and helped to facilitate a Glo Bingo fundraiser earlier this year. Community Link has benefitted from the insight that she has brought to the board, and is grateful for her years of service. 

Categories: Blog, Feature Stories

CL Welcomes New Board Member

May 16, 2016

Community Link is excited to welcome Jennifer Foushee as the newest member of the Board of Directors.  

 As a service recipient, Jennifer has a unique and important perspective that she brings to the board discussions, which will help shape the future of the organization. 

Categories: Feature Stories, Blog

Community Link employees celebrate service milestones

September 14, 2015

As an innovator in the human service industry since 1972, Community Link provides a variety of support services to over 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities. Community Link helps people achieve learning breakthroughs, employ their skills and talents (ideally in the community, but also in our production workshop, and even in classroom settings), live as independently as possible in a home of their own, and make friends as active volunteers in community groups that welcome their presence and contributions.

Community Link was founded in 1972 as Clinton County Rehabilitation Center by a small group of parents seeking local services for their children with developmental disabilities. The agency began with a staff of six serving 27 people in Clinton County. In 43 years, the agency has grown to regularly serve more than 200 families of young children at risk of developmental delay and more than 300 adults with developmental disabilities annually across multiple Illinois counties and now employs over 150 staff members who perform a variety of roles to make Community Link the organization it is today.

With three locations in Breese, one in Fairview Heights, and seven residential homes in the area, talented, dedicated staff members are crucial in maintaining the high standard of support our participants deserve and have come to expect.

Several staff members are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year.

Beth Hake and Jackie Toennies have been with Community Link for 20 years.

Beth, Vocational Program Manager, was originally hired as a Trainer 3 in 1995. At that time, the entire Community Link organization was housed in what is now the Breese West Building, but the Production program moved to the East building later that year. Beth held the positions of Production Manager and DT Program Manager before taking the position of Vocational Program Manager in 2001. Beth is a hard worker, who is dedicated to the participants. She assists them with work training, supported employment, job placement, and job development. She is always willing to take on new tasks, such as Mandt training and vehicle training, and has a great sense of humor. Beth commented, “I have met and worked with many great people during my time at CL. Every day, I have the opportunity to see the participants work hard to be successful in life and work. My reward is being a part of their life. My co-workers/staff are part of my extended family. We support each other through thick and thin as we all have the same goal - keep Community Link as the best place for individuals to achieve their dreams.” 

Jackie, Part-Time Habilitation Assistant, has worked in both the production and classroom settings. For the last 8 years, she has shared a job with another staff member, so she works every other week. She works directly with participants at the Breese West building. Jackie has a positive attitude that radiates throughout the building. She is an employee that truly exemplifies Community Link’s core values of respect, commitment, and making a difference. She always displays respect towards participants and co-workers and does her best to make every day special for the people she comes in contact with. Jackie is the kind of person who inspires others around her to be better and Community Link is fortunate to have her as a member of our team.

Donna Gruenenfelder, Production Coordinator, has been with Community Link for the past 25 years. She handles planning and coordinating all of the production contracts that come into Community Link for the Breese East, Breese West, and Fairview Heights Metro locations. She sets schedules, communicates with contractors, supervises truck drivers, oversees the productions vehicles, drives the fork lift to load and unload, and oversees the recycling program. Anything that has to do with the work the participants complete, Donna is involved in and responsible for seeing that it gets done. She is a hard worker and willing to work in all types of weather! She has been a dedicated employee, who is caring and incredibly knowledgeable about contract work. Donna commented, “It has been a pleasure to be a part of the Community Link family for the past 25 years. I have been lucky enough to not only watch us grow from CCRC to Community Link, but to see the participants grow. I have seen ups and downs that come with any business, but what makes this job stand apart are those we support. At the end of the day, I know that I have made a difference in someone’s life and this has always made it worth it.”

Deb Gray, Production Specialist, is celebrating her 30th year at Community Link this year. Deb began her career with Community Link in 1985. She had worked as a teacher’s aide and was off for the summer when she committed to about 30 hours/week at what was then Clinton County Rehabilitation Center. About 10 years later she moved to the East location to lead a Production Group. Deb is very passionate about providing participants the opportunity to work and earn a paycheck just like anyone else. She teaches them appropriate interactions and attempts to instill work ethics and values. Two evenings per week, she provides job coaching to a couple of participants while they do their janitorial work. With Deb’s years of experience, she is an asset to Community Link. She is someone that can always be counted on. She has extensive knowledge about the participants she supports, and has the ability to focus on a participant’s skills and abilities, without focusing on what they can’t do. 

Lisa Rehkemper, IT Coordinator, started her career with Community Link 35 years ago as a Clerk/Typist at a time when computers were not prevalent in the non-profit industry. In the beginning, her position included a variety of duties including program secretary, client payroll, and operation of an offset printing machine creating brochures and newsletters. Lisa’s love for machines grew, and in 1984 when a few computers were purchased, Lisa was anxious to learn. By 1986, with the growth of Community Link, Lisa’s duties evolved and she became instrumental in setting up information on a computer database system. By 1991, Lisa’s duties changed to Personnel Administration, but her interest in machines remained. When asked to figure out a way to network the computers, she obliged. Prior to this, the computers were stand-alone machines; there was no communication between them. By 1997, Lisa was a full-fledged IT support person, taking on project after project for the next 18 years. Lisa is an example of how when desire and commitment meet, you can build a successful career and life.

These are only a handful of the wonderful employees working at Community Link who are striving to help our participants realize their dreams. If you want to be a part of this great organization and embark on a rewarding career, consider attending our Walk-In Interview Day on September 23rd from 2-7pm at Community Link’s Breese East building (1665 N. 4th Street, Breese). We are hiring for a variety of employment opportunities in multiple locations, which can be found on our website, Community Link is an equal opportunity employer. 

Categories: Blog, Feature Stories

New Board Member

September 01, 2015

Mr. Garrison is the Vice President of First County Bank in Albers, and brings 9+ years’ experience in the banking industry as a lender. He resides in Aviston with his wife, Lindsay, and their two children, Ellie and Jack.

 Community Link, a non-profit organization and proud United Way member agency, is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities through a person-centered approach that promotes self-directed living choices and community integration opportunities. The mission of Community Link is to challenge, teach and inspire both participants and community, linking them in ways that enhance their lives. For more information, please visit our website at

Categories: Blog, Feature Stories

New Board Members Welcomed

July 27, 2015

William Hibner of Belleville recently retired as a Colonel from the US Army after a 25 year career. His last assignment was at Fort Leonard Wood, MO where he led equipment and training system modernization efforts. Bill has served in leadership and staff positions in diverse locations including: South Korea, Germany, Peru, Iraq, Bosnia, Kuwait, and Venezuela. He plans to capitalize on his operational experience, cultural knowledge, and the skills he learns in the MBA program to serve as an Operations Officer or Program Manager for a multi-national corporation. Bill is married to his college sweetheart, Elizabeth Mae, and resides in her hometown of Belleville, IL with their 2 year-old daughter, Elizabeth Rose. 

Amanda Oelze comes to Community Link with experience as a small business owner.  Amanda became actively involved with CL after being exposed to their organization and mission through the local business she owns and operates, Lillians Boutique.  Amanda is dedicated to sharing her experience in helping the agency progression for the future. Amanda resides in Damiansville with her husband, Dean and son Alden.

Categories: Blog, Feature Stories

Lengermann Recognized for Years of Service to CL

July 20, 2015

Community Link recently recognized John Lengerman for the volunteer years of service he provided as a member of Community Link’s Board of Directors. After serving on the Board for 6 years, Lengerman recently retired due to term limitations. He held the position of Board President four years and Board Treasurer for one year. He was also a member of the Executive, Governance, and Planning & Development Committees during his term. He played an instrumental role in the strategic planning process for the agency. As the Executive Director for the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, Lengerman also served as a key liaison between Community Link and the Metro East area. Community Link has benefitted from the insight and expertise that he brought to the Board, and is grateful for his many years of service.

Categories: Feature Stories, Blog

Capturing memories to cherish for a lifetime

June 08, 2015

Recently, the participants of Community Link had the opportunity to take part in a picture day, thanks to Anna Venhaus of Unforgettable Photography by Anna in Germantown, IL. Community Link provides support programs and employment for adults with developmental disabilities and therapies and education for children ages 0-3 and their families. Each participant was able to sit for a professional photograph and was gifted a 4x6 print by the studio.

Jamie Fields, Development Director at Community Link, commented, “When Anna came to me with her idea for a picture day at Community Link, she shared a story with me about an experience a fellow photographer had who, due to a snowstorm, came to be stranded at a retail store. To pass the time, he began to take photographs of the employees at the store. One of the employees there happened to be disabled and used a wheelchair. As he was being photographed, he commented that this was the first time he had the opportunity to have his photograph taken by a professional photographer as an adult. This story stuck with Anna, and she wanted to make this experience possible for those in her own community who may not have this opportunity.”

Anna, Sarah, and Kris cleared their schedules on three separate days, so everyone involved in Community Link would have the opportunity to participate. With more than 500 children and adults supported by the services offered at Community Link, this was no easy task! They visited three of Community Link’s locations-Fairview Heights Metro, Breese East, and Breese West. The children enrolled in the First Step program were invited to participate at the Breese West location as well.

The participants came dressed in their favorite outfits, and the excitement throughout the building was palpable. Anna was able to capture each beautiful smile and make a bunch of new friends along the way. Each moment of your life is special, and each participant has a photo to take home to commemorate this moment of their lives. Anna even offered to visit one of Community Link’s seven CILA homes to take a participant’s photograph that was home sick battling cancer. She captured his ever present smile with his bright personality shining through. This was one of the last pictures taken of him, as he sadly passed away a couple of weeks later, but his family will have this special picture to cherish along with their lovely memories for a lifetime.

Community Link truly appreciates those people in the community that take an interest in our organization, and take the time to get to know our participants. Volunteers bring so much value, and we appreciate the time and effort to brighten someone else’s day.

Unforgettable Photography by Anna is located in Germantown and has been in business for 11 years.  Anna adores photographing newborns, children, families and high school seniors.  Her goal is to make everyone feel comfortable in front of the camera. Anna also wants to make sure everyone has the best experience possible during their time at the studio. Unforgettable Photography by Anna is known for their bright and beautiful photography. You can see more of Anna’s work by visiting

Categories: Blog, Feature Stories

Commit to the Community - Commit to Me Advocacy Flyer

May 08, 2015

Commit to the Community - Commit to Me Advocacy Flyer

Category: Blog

Community Link’s Development Director Jamie Fields Graduates from Leadership Belleville Program

May 04, 2015

Jamie Fields, the Development Director for Community Link, Inc., recently graduated from the Leadership Belleville program offered by the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce.

 Each year, 25 individuals from the metro area possessing diverse career, political, social and cultural backgrounds are given the opportunity to participate in Leadership Belleville. The Leadership Belleville program is designed to expose participants to the Belleville community and its history, government, industry and business community. Participants gather valuable knowledge and resources to enhance their effectiveness as leaders in their chosen field or profession. Leadership Belleville’s nine month course also serves as a means to foster a commitment to community service which will benefit a participant’s life, both personally and professionally.

 Fields, a resident of Breese, has been the Director of Development at Community Link since August of 2012 and is experienced in donor development, fundraising, marketing and communications. Jamie also serves on the Board of the Breese Chamber of Commerce.