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A person enters an accessible van

This is part of our Moving You series, which examines federally funded programs managed by the RTA that expand transportation options and access for all.

For over a decade, 31-year-old Rose Murray has lived in a group home in Crete run by CTF Illinois—a nonprofit that serves people with developmental and physical disabilities and mental health disorders—and has used the nonprofit’s point-to-point transportation services to go anywhere she’s needed to go: the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, to shop for clothes, and more. For about a year now, Murray has taken a CTF Illinois van to get to her job at a small manufacturing facility in Crestwood that is also run by CTF Illinois.

“CTF is just wonderful with offering different experiences,” Murray said. “Whether it’s work or different day programs, I meet new people.”

CTF Illinois’ point-to-point transportation services operate throughout southern Cook and northern Will counties, serving the individuals who reside in the nonprofit’s homes and attend its day programs. CTF Illinois provides about 45,000 trips a year, including 11,000 specifically related to employment. Additionally, CTF Illinois provides transportation training to individuals who are able to and interested in learning to use public transportation. This year, the RTA will provide $105,276 in federal funding to support CTF Illinois’ point-to-point services through the Section 5310: Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program.

In addition to continuing point-to-point transportation, CTF Illinois plans to further formalize and expand their transportation training. Currently, transportation training is taught almost exclusively in CTF Illinois’ employment program in Crestwood. The nonprofit aims to collaborate across its programs to develop and teach a consistent transportation curriculum. From there, CTF Illinois may collaborate with its many partners and bring this transportation training to the community at large.

CTF Illinois CEO Mary Pat Ambrosino said the nonprofit offers a wide array of services—from housing, to therapy, to art classes, and more—but the emphasis lies in empowering people with disabilities to gain independence through work. In order to do that, these individuals need to be able to get to their jobs. Ninety-eight percent of the people CTF Illinois supports are unable to obtain a driver’s license.

“Our mission is to provide supports for people with disabilities to live the life they want to live,” Ambrosino said. “One of the biggest barriers to do that—everywhere, but especially much of the south suburbs—is transportation. The one thing in common everyone needs is transportation. If [our services are] a wheel, transportation is the hub.”

Mark Goryl, Director of Community Services for CTF Illinois, works directly with the individuals who work in the Crestwood manufacturing facility, including Rose Murray. He said although CTF Illinois does provide its own transportation services to the people it serves, transportation training is imperative for empowering people to be truly independent.

“Whenever someone is looking for a job, we always look for a job where they’ll eventually able to learn to get there independently,” Goryl said. “If someone gets a job, in the beginning, it might be challenging for them to get there, so being able to provide door-to-door service is important. But through the process, we do travel training with them. We look at whether they’re eligible for Pace paratransit, which is door-to-door service. We look at whether they’re eligible for reduced fares for Pace’s fixed bus routes. We train them through the process of using these different avenues so they don’t just rely on somebody to get them to work. They can manage that independently.”

Murray’s work in the Crestwood manufacturing facility has taught her a variety of transferable skills, and every day is a little bit different, which she enjoys. Sometimes she’s labeling, sometimes she’s packaging, and sometimes she’s working for big clients like Ulta Beauty or the Chicago Marathon, whose runner refresh bags are packaged by this facility. Through it all, she’s making friends—both in the van and on the work floor—and building up skills to continue living independently.

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Read posts about how the RTA collaborates with CTA, Metra and Pace to plan, invest in and move the Chicago region’s transit system.

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