Updated: Oct 2, 2018
A new leadership era is unfolding for two Glencoe social service agencies — one that provides activities for teenagers and the other for adults with special needs.
At Glencoe Youth Services, Margaret Ann Paauw assumed the role of executive director in January, marking a return to the organization where she worked from 2013-2015. Paauw's came back to Glencoe Youth Services a few months after Jaimie Frazin took over late last year as the executive director of the Special Needs Adult Program (SNAP), which operates out of the Glencoe Youth Services building and is overseen by the Glencoe Youth Services board of directors, but the two organizations run separately.
Paauw, a Seattle native, left Glencoe Youth Services to pursue a master's degree in social work from Loyola University of Chicago. She then worked for two and a half years at a Chicago-based agency in which she visited homes to help with adults with mental illnesses.
But Paauw said that as time went on, she had a desire to work with youth again. Such an opportunity presented itself at Glencoe Youth Services when Eddie Simon, the previous executive director, moved on to a position as a synagogue administrator in the western suburbs.
"I just really like working with adolescents," Paauw said. "I like having conversations with kids. They have a lot to say and I don't think they are heard enough."
Glencoe Youth Services Board President Jennifer Adler said Paauw had the qualities the board sought for a new day-to day administrator.
"Margaret Ann comes to the table with years of experience and a familiarity with (Glencoe Youth Services) and SNAP as she was with us before," Adler said. "Her background includes clinical work youth and young people on the North Shore and she has a fabulous personality and presence to help the organization grow to the next level."
The Glencoe Youth Services building, which is just a few steps away from Central School, is open Monday through Friday. Paauw said an average of 10 children (mostly sixth through 12th-graders) who stop after school to play games, watch TV, study or just be with friends.
Paauw said there has already been expansion of the building's hours both the week and on Saturday, and another expansion may be considered if there is enough interest in the community.
She adds with the longer hours, there is more structured programming such as board games, arts and crafts and movie nights in addition to the traditional activities in which children come by after school to do their homework or chat with buddies.
Despite the organization's presence in Glencoe since its 1971 founding, Paauw said the visibility isn't as high as she'd like it to be.
"A lot of people don't know what this place is," she said. To reverse that, Paauw wants to see Glencoe Youth Services active in other village events such as the annual Glencoe Grand Prix or speaking at the Glencoe Junior High Project. "There is a potential for how awesome this place can be and how (Glencoe Youth Services)can impact the community, especially teenagers," Paauw said.
Paauw is currently fundraising and awaiting summer — when the building's interior is slated to get a fresh coat of paint. That will be a project led by the youth board, composed of New Trier High School students who live in Glencoe.
"We want to make the center look more inviting for our students who come by to hang out," Paauw said.
Frazin, on the other hand, started at SNAP as an assistant director and has now been in charge for six months of the organization, which provides social activities for local adults facing physical and developmental challenges.
A Northbrook native who now lives in Libertyville, Frazin's interest in working with people with disabilities stems back to when she was a student at Glenbrook North High School, where she worked in the school's "Best Buddy" program. She said her mother also was a special education teacher.
"I have always had a place in my heart for these special needs people," Frazin said. "It brings me to tears."
Frazin said attendance in her time as executive director has increased, with 18 to 22 people coming by on a regular basis now, as opposed to no more than 15 last year.
"Her education and expertise with special needs adults is greater than most people than I have met in that spectrum," Adler said.
Currently, SNAP participants get together on three Tuesdays a month for dinner and other activities including playing bingo, receiving lessons on nutrition or job counseling and exercising or trying their hands at karaoke, Frazin said. On the fourth Tuesday, there is an outing in which everyone goes to a restaurant, attends a movie or goes bowling.
Frazin is aiming to expand the offerings and wants to start another group dedicated to the 16 to 22 age group. Right now, she said, SNAP participants tend be older, with one program participant in his 60s.
With those potential changes in mind, Frazin said she loves her role and the resulting impact on people's lives.
"You can't walk in here and not just love the participants," she said. "I see this as rewarding; it is not even a job for me."
Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelance reporter for the Pioneer Press.
Copyright © 2018, Chicago Tribune
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