Our history goes back to 1916 when the then one-year-old Rotary Club of Jackson launched a club project by helping a child with a disability living in Jackson County. This project continued to grow and in 1924, the first clinic was held at which two hundred children with disabilities were examined. In 1925, the Jackson County Society for Crippled Children was incorporated as a nonprofit with Rotarians serving as officers of the corporation.
Orthopaedic clinics for children with physical disabilities were held with support of the Rotary Clubs and the State Crippled Children’s Commission at Mercy Hospital and Foote Hospital with Dr. Richard Deming being the first
Jacksonphysician to be certified by the State Commission to run these clinics.
The Society was an affiliate of Easter Seals from 1934 until 1978. This event is now called the Rotary Ruler Days and annually raises about $10,000 a year with the help of the three local Rotary Clubs. At that same in time 1978, the Society began serving adults with disabilities as well as children with a new name~ Handicapped Children & Adults Society of Jackson County.
The first crippled children’s summer camp was founded in 1945 at Wolf Lake. With the cooperation of the Boy Scouts, the local Community Chest, the Jackson County Medical Society and the Rotary Club of Jackson, the Society sponsored the annual adaptive summer camp sessions through 1968.
In 1993, the Society created the Handicapped Children & Adults Foundation of Jackson County to provide a permanent base of funding to ensure the longevity of the Society.
In November 1999, the Jackson County Society for Handicapped Children & Adults and United Cerebral Palsy Association of Jackson merged to form a new nonprofit called disAbility Connections, Inc. Because of this merger, the Handicapped Children & Adults Foundation also changed its name to the disAbility Connections Foundation of Jackson County.
As our programs and services continue to grow, so did our need for space. Mr. A.P. Cook (a Rotarian) came to our rescue and donated his building at
409 Linden Avenue. We successfully completed a $752,000.00 community capital campaign raising the funds for the building renovation and 2,400 square foot addition. Thanks to the donated architecture services of Dave Fleming (another Rotarian), we have a new state-of-the-art technology center, a universal design kitchen and an accessible multi-purpose room for support groups, workshops and meetings.
On October 1, 2005 we merged with the
Jackson Centerfor Independent Living. With the help of a state grant from Michigan Rehabilitation Services, we were able to expand our services to include peer support, independent living skills training and individual and systems advocacy and made a plan for serving Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties as well.
For the first time ever, as of October 1, 2010, we became a federally funded Center for Independent Living and hope that our new federal designation will allow us to pursue funding to expand our core services further to Hillsdale and Lenawee Counties!
Our local financial support comes from our friends in the community by way of individual donations, bequests and memorials, business contributions, foundation grants, The Rotary Clubs of Jackson and other service clubs and fundraising events. Without the support of our community and local partners, we would not have the ability to impact individuals in their pursuit of independence.
In 2010 we formally celebrate 85 years as a nonprofit and have grown and changed as the needs of our community have grown and changed. We are proud of the legacy that the Rotary Club has left our community and excited that we are still growing. Thank you for helping make this happen.