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10th Annual PACTT Golf Classic

The 10th Annual PACTT Golf Classic was held Monday, September 19 at beautiful Beverly Country Club on the South Side of Chicago. More than 70 linksters came out to support the educational, residential and vocational programs at PACTT. The weather did not disappoint, as the PACTT golfers enjoyed great camaraderie on one of the finest courses in the Midwest, while raising almost $30,000 for individuals with autism.

McAllister family members Mary Rose Smith (third from left) and Tim McAllister (third from right), join PACTT Board members, families, and staff in celebrating the announcement of their transformational gift in support of PACTT adult residential services. (Pictured, from left) Lanie Adair (Board Member), Barbara Falconer (Board Chair), Mary Rose Smith, Michael Shanahan (Parent), Tim McAllister, Lisa Shanahan (Parent), Terry Herbstritt (Development Dir.)

Following the spectacular round, an exciting “Shoot for PACTT” event took place on the 18th hole adjacent to the clubhouse during the cocktail hour. The top 10 golfers from the regular afternoon round each took a shot from 150 yards out for a $100,000 prize. Although no one was able to “hole out” to claim that benefit for both PACTT and themselves, many did come close and a good time was had by all. After the shoot-out, golfers retired to a terrific buffet dinner in the clubhouse with recognition of team and individual awards, as well as other flag events. More photos and a list of our top golfers can be found at

On hand at the festivities were McAllister family members Mary Rose Smith and Tim McAllister, who helped to celebrate the announcement of a transformational gift made to PACTT in honor of their mother Mary Kay McAllister. Before her passing in late 2008, Mary Kay had a long history of supporting many philanthropic causes. Her bequest will help PACTT to secure the future of the teens and young adults that need creative residential options providing quality and choice. Thanks to the McAllister Family and to all our loyal golfers!

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 Butch Pedals for PACTT

Michael “Butch” Shanahan (left) with his son Marty. (right)In August, Michael “Butch” Shanahan, father of Oak Park group home resident Marty, braved the hills, the heat, the ruts and the gravel of the long open road to successfully complete an amazing 500-mile bike trek through Wisconsin. Again this year, Butch’s ride raised more than $39,000 in support of his son and all the other children, teens and young adults with autism served by PACTT. Since 2006, Butch and his steadfast ride- backers have contributed over $210,000, enabling many wonderful improvements at PACTT facilities in Rogers Park as well as the two children’s group homes in Oak Park and Elmwood Park.

The support of the Shanahans and other families is critical to carrying out the mission of PACTT. As state funding continues to shrink, private donations are more important than ever in order to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the young people we serve. Butch is deeply committed to helping Marty and other people with autism move along the road to greater independence, toward lives of purpose and meaning. PACTT thanks Butch and the legion of loyal supporters who cheered him on to another terrific ride!

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On the Job at Imaginary Landscape

Matt shreds at Imaginary Landscape.Most of the time, Imaginary Landscape remains a quietly active workplace. Keyboards clack constantly in every part of the open office space, website designers consult with colleagues around them and with clients on the phone. But on at least one day a week, they are joined by Matt Herbstritt or Jae Yoon Ham, workers from PACTT Vocational Services, who sometimes can’t fully contain their joy in a smile. Matt, especially, tends to let out a happy whoop when he arrives. “It livens up the place,” says Imaginary Landscape’s Operating Partner, Ric Lee.

Founded by Ric Lee in 1995, Imaginary Landscape designs and develops websites for entities such as Advocate Healthcare, First American Bank and MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab. It is one of the many technology companies that occupy offices with exposed-brick walls and wood-beamed ceilings in a converted industrial building along Chicago’s Ravenswood Corridor.

Matt and Jae’s tasks there include shredding documents, bagging and disposing of shredded paper, watering plants and emptying waste cans. It’s work that could be done by other employees, but paying PACTT workers to take care of it adds another type of human connection to the day. It also allows them to feel that they and their company are engaged with and giving back to the community around them. “Imaginary Landscape finds a lot of value in helping someone live a life that they’re proud of,” says Ric Lee. “We also get the reward of helping PACTT which is a wonderful organization, doing wonderful work.”

If your business is interested in more information about PACTT’s vocational program, please contact Lisa Fegert at 773-338-9102.

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From Lisa's Desk

Lisa Fegert, Interim CEOWe have much to be thankful for as this year approaches its close. Our programs continue to provide excellent service to all of our residents, workers and students, and they, in turn, continue to inspire us with their energy and progress. Seeing our clients achieve so much offers us daily proof of the vitality of PACTT’s mission.

As we move through the process of transition, the board and I look to answer two important questions: 1) How does any change we make improve our programming? 2) How does any change we make secure the long-term future of PACTT?

Some of the changes at PACTT are visible, while others take place behind the scenes. In order to build toward our future, we must establish a strong foundation in our agency’s support systems. With that in mind, we would like to share some of the exciting things that are happening.

During the last months, our program teams have performed above and beyond our expectations. The children and adult programs work with high expectations in academics, vocational training, daily living skills, community activities and fun. Changes in our residential management structure have improved communication with staff and parents, and, ultimately, the experience of our residents. Just one example is the additional enrichment provided to them through the newly-created position of Director of Arts and Recreation. In that role, Robert Mann has arranged for and taken our group home residents out into the community for regular exercise, nature walks and new cultural activities.

Our redesigned budgeting process now includes input from the program management team. These “on the ground staff” have the best ideas on how to become more efficient and effective while maintaining or improving the experience for our residents and students. Also, our financial and accounting systems are being reviewed and audited with the help of Miller Cooper, Inc.

PACTT’s human resource systems have been comprehensively audited and improved. Agency training has been consolidated and roles have been clarified. Our work on Human Resources will directly impact the needs of PACTT’s most important asset: our staff. And to further develop that asset, an improved hiring system has clarified the qualities we seek and shortened the time it takes to identify and employ highly qualified applicants.

In Information Technology, PACTT has installed a new centralized network that makes communication more efficient, provides automatic back-up of our systems, and safeguards against viruses and intrusions. In the future, this protected network will enable PACTT to implement an electronic case management system. Principal Paula Jablonski, in her additional role as Web Master, has enhanced our website, increasing the traffic there to record levels. Concurrent improvements in our Marketing and Outreach program, have already resulted in increased interest in PACTT, not only by parents of potential students, but by local autism-related organizations which can provide referrals.

Finally, PACTT’s facilities are undergoing a comprehensive evaluation. We expect a facility plan to be completed very soon.

The enhanced relationship between the Board and the agency and the development office has allowed us to take these crucial steps toward building PACTT into a strong, sustainable agency for our children, younger and older. We are very optimistic about the future, and grateful to all our staff, parents and loyal supporters for their hard work and assistance.

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Our Staff: Caroline Anderson

Caroline Anderson, CILA SupervisorBefore starting at PACTT three years ago, Caroline Anderson had earned a degree in Sociology, and had worked jobs in Austin, Texas, and in Illinois, but hadn’t yet found a job that enabled her to make a difference in the world. She was aware of nonprofit organizations through family members who had worked for social justice causes. She’d seen the lives of her two cousins with autism dramatically altered by the quality of care they’d received; one for the better and one for the worse. She’d volunteered at a therapy animal program and in the kitchen of a suburban home for disabled adults. But her regular job, even though it utilized her skill at serving an excellent latte, didn’t seem to matter enough to her or to the coffee shop’s customers.

Now, as CILA Supervisor since May of this year, she starts the day by tackling staff scheduling, paperwork and some errand-running, trying to complete as much as possible before the eight residents return from their vocational program in the afternoon.“My job is hard to describe.” Caroline says. “This is a unique place. I work in somebody’s home. I help people grow and be as independent as possible.” Her greatest challenge is that there are not enough hours in the day. Dinner will have to be cooked and eaten, but an impromptu dance party may erupt before or after. “Happiness is a big factor, here,” she says. “We don’t like just sitting around watching TV. We like to be out in the neighborhood. The bar is set high and we always want to be doing more.”

Caroline’s life is fully engaged with PACTT’s residents. Even when she’s home she wonders what’s going on back at the CILA. She might call on her day off to find out if any of her friends want to join her for a movie, or bring one of the residents to her apartment to help her walk her dog. In her free time, Caroline rides her bike everywhere, does some sewing and baking, and is also preparing to get a Masters degree in Occupational Therapy.

“My favorite times are going out with the guys one-on-one.” Caroline says. “Hopping on the train and maybe not knowing where we’re going to end up, going on some kind of adventure, getting out of the neighborhood and exploring life in the city. I forget that I’m actually at work. We’re experiencing life as friends. One time Walker and I were on the train coming back from an outing and he said, ‘I had fun. Thanks.’ When something like that happens, it’s incredibly energizing.”

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A Day at Goebbert's Pumpkin Farm

Jon feeds a friendly giraffe with help from April.A group of PACTT students and staff enjoy a fall community outing to Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm in Barrington. Above, some of our young people have a hands-on experience of feeding one of the 55 different types of animals in Goebbert’s Animal Land. The outing not only included some mingling with barn yard favorites such as cows, pigs, goats, and baby chicks, but also a chance to enjoy a large array of exotic animals such as camels, kangaroos, llamas, zebras, tigers, bears, lions and even a giraffe or two. Another highlight of the pumpkin patch adventure was witnessing the behavior of birds from around the globe including owls, macaws, and toucans.

For more pictures from Field Day and the school's Halloween fun, see the albums in The Principal's Desk blog.

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PACTT Goes Paperless

PACTT now offers you the option of receiving our event invitations and other important communications via e-mail. You will benefit from reduced paper-handling in your home. PACTT will benefit from more effective and streamlined communication with you and from reduced costs, which will allow us to allocate more resources to programming for the people we serve. And, of course, it’s the right thing to do for our environment. Currently, PACTT has e-mail information for about 30% of our loyal constituency. Our goal is to double that figure by the end of the year.

Please consider informing the PACTT Development Office of your e-mail address. We will respect your privacy and never inundate you with numerous or intrusive messages. This information will be used only to keep you up to date through the communications that you now receive in paper form. To enroll in this initiative, visit or e-mail Thank you for helping to keep our environment healthy.

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