Lambs Farm Blog

Check back often to get the inside scoop on the happenings at Lambs Farm!

Voices of Lambs Farm

Our Participants are pleased to share with you their creative writing and personal stories found in this edition of Voices!  Through reading these poems and narratives you will receive a  glimpse into the lives of the men and women of Lambs Farm. Enjoy!

Voices: A publication written by Participants


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A Night of Recognition for Special Olympics Teams

SObocceJune 26 marked another successful event to honor our Special Olympics teams. With the theme of the night being “practice,” the recreation department ingrained into the Participants the importance of practicing, rather than relying only on talent – you can always improve your skill!

The event kicked off with speeches from President and CEO Dianne Yaconetti and the head of the Recreation Department, Kreig Alm. Following the speeches, there was a video presentation featuring Participants and staff that encompassed the theme as well. Participants, staff, and family then got to relax and enjoy a delicious meal provided by the Magnolia Café & Bakery.

After dinner, Participants were recognized for their involvement in various Special Olympics teams through both an awards ceremony and a slide show of photos. The slide show featured pictures of the ten sports offered by Lambs Farm, including the brand new softball team. The awards ceremony presented each Participant with a certificate based on the number of teams they are a member of. At the end, four Participants were honored with special awards:

Big Achievement Award: Brandon F.

Most Outstanding Athlete at State: Stephan K.

Karen Buron Sportsmanship Award: Virginia F.

Athlete of the Year: Linda S.

We are so proud of our recreation staff and volunteers for their involvement and dedication to our athletes!

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Field Trip Experience Near Chicago

babyIf you are searching for a fun field trip location, look no further! We offer a field trip experience that cannot be found elsewhere. There are three different package options for field trips, plus additional activities and food options that can be integrated into your visit for a customized experience that accommodates all of your interests.

We would love for you to visit us during our field trip season from April through October! Field trips are offered Mondays-Fridays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. We are perfect for schools, summer camps, daycares, senior groups, and so much more!

By scheduling a field trip at Lambs Farm, you will receive a discounted price on all activities! You will definitely get the bang for your buck with a Lambs Farm field trip that involves a high level of fun for a very affordable price.

To learn more about the field trip experience we offer, feel free to read our brochure.

For more information on field trip package options and pricing, take a look at our field trip reservation form.

For any other questions or if you are interested in scheduling a field trip, you may contact Angela at

We hope to hear from you soon!

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A Day of Family Fun at Lambs Farm!

DSCF2647Looking for a fun-filled day to entertain the whole family? Lambs Farm would love to have you! The variety of attractions and businesses will be sure to keep you entertained and smiling all day long.

Our Farmyard will definitely satisfy your need for fun activities and keep the kids happy. Not only is there a variety of animals to observe and spend time with, there are plenty other features that will appeal to children – or even the child in you! The miniature golf course, carousel, and mini train rides will provide a pleasant change to the normal routine of family days.

In addition to the amusements found in the Farmyard, Lambs Farm is home to ba-farmyardmany businesses that will catch your eye and entice you to come in. The Cedar Chest Thrift Shop is a quaint spot filled with many hidden gems – you never know what you’ll find in this treasure chest of a store! Also, you will not be able to resist the Dogwood Garden & Pet Center, filled with adorable pet products, garden décor, and – best of all – puppies! Whether you intend to adopt a pet or simply go to look, these puppies, provided by The Anti-Cruelty Society, will melt your heart!

No family bonding time would be complete without delicious food! Luckily, Lambs Farm can satisfy all your edible cravings! First, we have the Magnolia Café & Bakery for a nice sit-down meal with a great assortment of food options. If you are looking for something quick and simple, head to the Snack Shop – you will not be DSCF2980disappointed! Feel free to sit at a picnic table under the pavilion to relax and enjoy your Snack Shop purchase. Finally, we have our Sugar Maple Country Store that will definitely accommodate your sweet tooth! This is the place to go for delectable, gourmet sweet treats and preserves that you can eat here or bring home to enjoy at a later time.

We hope to become your family’s new favorite place to spend time!

Call 847-362-4636 for more information!

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Exceptional Work from Astellas Enhances Lambs Farm

20140625_091401On Thursday, June 26, Astellas returned to Lambs Farm for another wonderful day of highly appreciated volunteer work. The contributions from Astellas went above and beyond expectations by not only working on tasks necessary to the maintenance of the grounds, but by also supporting the businesses.

Throughout the day, the volunteers indulged in a breakfast buffet, lunch buffet, and ice cream, which they purchased from the Magnolia Café & Bakery and the Snack Shop. However, the majority of their time here involved hard work, dedication, and passion in various areas of the grounds.

There were approximately 70 volunteers who split into several different task 20140625_110030 (2)groups – each with a project that would greatly benefit the organization. The volunteers delved into painting, landscaping, window washing, power washing decks and residential buildings, and helping out in the businesses, such as the thrift shop. Astellas purchased all of the paint and supplies necessary to complete the projects and generously donated several pairs of work gloves for future volunteers.

The volunteers did a spectacular job that day and their work did not go unnoticed. The time spent by Astellas has a profound impact on Lambs Farm’s maintenance and overall appearance. We are immensely grateful for the partnership we have had with Astellas for several years, and genuinely hope to see them in the future.

Thank you Astellas!


Astellas is one of many corporations and businesses who have volunteered their time this summer.  If you are interested in bringing a group to participate in volunteer projects too, please email

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The Inspiring History of Special Olympics at Lambs Farm

Floor HockeyWith over 50% of Participants engaged in one or more teams here at Lambs Farm, the Special Olympics program of the Recreation Department is an integral part of their lives!

Since Lambs Farm’s early years, Co-founders Bob Therese and Corinne Owen envisioned recreation as an essential part of Participants’ lives. They continually called out to the community for volunteers who would teach and help organize sports options. Many Participants fondly remember playing softball games in the field where the Magnolia Café & Bakery now stands.

Special Olympics began in the 1950’s and the first International Summer Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1968. By the mid-1970’s the Lambs Farm recreational activities followed suit and began Special Olympic sports teams. Participant Libby Creigh remembers swimming at Special Olympic events as early as 1976.

Later in 1978, several Participants joined forces to form a Special Olympics basketball team. Through their determined efforts, they interviewed prospective players, held tryouts, organized pre-season games with staff and families, delegated a coach and even were able to find a gym to be able to practice and play games. These pre-season games garnered so much excitement that a cheerleading team was even formed!

“We just wanted to create a new experience for everyone. To give people a chance to learn, play and have fun,” said Participant Doug Wagner, one of the team members.

By 1981, the basketball team was not only posting a perfect season score of 10-0, Bballthey also won first place at the State Special Olympics games and won fourth place at the Regional Special Olympics games, competing against teams from the Midwest.

Tennis was also added in 1986 and the athletes competed in the first ever Special
Olympics tennis competition in June 1989! As interest grew at Lambs Farm for more sports options, teams were formed for floor hockey, bowling, bocce, snowshoe, golf and track and field.

Over the years, several Participants have had the chance to compete at the International Games. This is quite an accomplishment, as each competitor is nominated to be a part of the team based on their skill, independence and character. Current Participants, Libby Creigh, Kevin Donohue, Mike Kurschner and Jeff Tomaszek have all been on International teams throughout the past 30 years. Mike even won a bronze medal at the World Games in 1996 for tennis.

“I love Special Olympics,” Libby Creigh said about her time on the International team. “It gives you good goals to work for and the training keeps you going.”

As the Participants are aging, many of the athletic needs are changing as well. In order to meet these needs the Recreation department has made some important adjustments in the past year. For instance, an adapted sports option called Motor Activities Training Program was added to the team offerings for the first time last hockey_1spring. This provides Participants a chance to gain new skills and to perhaps one day join or rejoin a Special Olympics team.

This summer, softball reintroduced as an official team for the Lambs Farm Participants. Due to Participants’ changing abilities and skills, this team will be in place of the tennis team. Overall, softball is less demanding on the body than tennis and it has a wider appeal as more people can play at the same time.

No matter the skill level or sport, Special Olympics continues to be an important part of life at Lambs Farm for the majority of Participants.

According to Recreation Manager Kreig Alm, “Special Olympics allows everyone to be an athlete, to set physical goals and stay physically active. Throughout the year, Participants have yet another thing to look forward to in their lives and share with others.”

Many opportunities exist each sports season to cheer on our teams and be a part of the excitement! Keep watch on our social media, e-newsletters and mailed newsletters for the latest information on each sports team.

View more pictures of our Special Olympics teams here!

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Donations and Updates through Texts!

TextingEveryone can now make a donation and get updates by text message!  Since many people no longer carry cash, this is an easy way to make a donation.

How it works for donation:  Text LAMBS to 501501 and follow the simple steps to make a $5 donation.  The donation will appear on your cellular bill.  Once the donation has been made you can opt in to receive Lambs Farm news via text.  It is that easy!  Click here to read about our programs that the donations benefit.

Lambs Farm News Texts: You can also sign up to receive once-a-month Lambs Farm news and information texts highlighting our latest business promos and events by texting LF to 91011.

To sign up for our e-newsletter as well, simply enter your email address into the grey box on the right side column of this page.

Sign up today and help us to spread the word about this new, simple way to support Lambs Farm and stay up to date with all the latest news and information!

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Lambs Farm to the Rescue! New Garden & Pet Center

photo (3)Lambs Farm to the Rescue!
Introducing the new Dogwood Garden & Pet Center – shop and adopt!

We are pleased to announce the official opening of the new Dogwood Garden & Pet Center. The new greenhouse offers a large assortment of hanging baskets, ornamental grasses, annuals and perennials, as well as garden décor and accessories, flowering plants and home accents for year-round decorating needs. A wide array of pet supplies and unique animal gift offerings are also available.

After just one year of facilitating the adoption of hundreds of puppies and kittens to loving families through the partnership with The Anti-Cruelty Society, Lambs Farm will now exclusively offer rescue puppies and kittens for adoption. The nominal adoption fee charged will be shared with The Anti-Cruelty Society to support their expenses associated with the transport, spaying/neutering, and inoculations required for the rescue animals.  View the current adoption list here.

“Partnering with Lambs Farm has proven to be a rewarding experience. We are thrilled to expand our relationship by providing their 100% rescue-based operation with adoptable cats and dogs,” said Dr. Robyn Barbiers, President of the Anti-Cruelty Society.

“Our Pet Shop, the first non-sheltered business in the country to employ people with developmental disabilities, has provided a wonderful growth opportunity for more than 53 years by offering meaningful employment in a nurturing environment. Through our partnership with The Anti-Cruelty Society, the men and women we serve will continue to share that environment of love and acceptance with the puppies and kittens for which they provide care,” said Dianne Yaconetti, Lambs Farm President and CEO.

On June 14 and 15 from 11:00am to 2:00pm, we will host a special Adoption Day event with The Anti-Cruelty Society at the new Pet Center.  Stop by to meet representatives of The Anti-Cruelty Society and some of their older dogs in need of loving homes.

Find out more about the history and mission of Lambs Farm!


The Anti-Cruelty Society is Chicago’s oldest and largest, private, open-admission, unlimited stay non-profit humane society. With a mission of building a community of caring by helping pets and educating people through comprehensive programs and services that help over  50,000 animals and humans every year and include: adoption, charity veterinary clinic, low or no-cost spay/neuter clinic, cruelty investigations and rescue, humane education & community outreach, a free behavior hotline, dog training classes, S.A.F.E. program (short-term accommodations for emergencies), The Bruckner Rehabilitation & Treatment Center, the Virginia Butts Berger Cat Clinic, and the Dog Rehabilitation Center. For more information, visit or call (312) 644-8338.

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New Production Line Offers Fast, Efficient Service


We would love to help your business with your product needs!  Our new production line allows us to easily formulate your recipe, package, label and ship your product!

Long gone are the manual operations of Aunt Mary’s Country Store, where jams were cooked, bottled and labeled by hand. Now, where work stations once stood, a continuous conveyor system carries jars through vacuum, fill, metal detection, cap, date code and label stations.

This immense leap in automation is due to the generous support of the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund and several other foundations committed to helping Lambs Farm realize increased revenue by way of new, larger production opportunities.

Over time, new pieces of equipment will be added to the current set up to continue to maximize the efficiency and control all aspects of quality production. The new line also provides Participants working in this area the chance to be involved in more of each process.LambsFarmCountryStoreLogo

Presently, our Participants and staff produce an assortment of products including salad dressings, caramel and fudge sauces, dipping oils, jams, preserves, butters, hot sauce, dry mix soup and rubs.

These projects account for a significant amount of sales in the Country Store and we are always looking for growth in this area of private labeling and co-packaging.

“The great thing for and any small start-up food business is the lower run capabilities offered at Lambs. The bonus being able to help such a worthy cause,” shared customer Bob Heffernan, co-founder of, for which Lambs Farm formulates and packages dry rubs.

Working closely with each customer to ensure the highest quality end-product, Lambs Farm is eager to assist in the development of new products.

We would love to talk to any business about how we could be of use for your co-packing needs! See more about our services, or contact Amy Barry at

Read more about the Country Store here!

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From the President and CEO’s Desk…

DYaconetti_050I was giving a tour of Lambs Farm recently, and was asked, “What keeps you awake at night?” Taken aback somewhat, my first thought was “Everything.” Afterward, I wondered what the answer really is. Where to begin?

There was a time when the financial condition of the State of Illinois was at the top of that list; however, I’ve come to accept the fact that there really is nothing I can do to solve that problem. And, although it remains a concern, today there are many more things that take precedence – such as our New Beginning and what it will really mean for Lambs Farm.

First, many of our Participants have spent more than half their lives at Lambs Farm. They are proud of the skills they have mastered, the responsibilities they have taken and the independence they have enjoyed. Now, however, some have reached a point in their lives when they cannot do many of the things they once could. Those Participants are finding they no longer can work at their jobs due to diminishing dexterity or their lack of ability to stand for long periods of time; they no longer are able to take care of their own daily hygiene, dress themselves or attend to their growing medical needs; they can no longer navigate stairs; or they now need a walker or wheelchair to get around. Of necessity, we now have two staff members on second shift in each of our nine Group Homes, and have added one more nurse to our Health Services department. We have added staff and expanded the space available for our JOY (Senior) Program to accommodate new people joining, and created an Activities Program for others to preserve the skills they have and possibly acquire some new interests.

Then, there are the younger Participants, many of whom are newer to Lambs Farm. Because they literally grew up in a different world than those who have been here for many years, it is important that we work to meet their expectations in order that their life experiences, although somewhat different, are every bit as meaningful as they have been for their predecessors. Some have kept their community jobs, and many others now work in our campus businesses. We have added Softball to our Special Olympics program and continue to modify offerings from our Quest and Fine Arts programs in an effort to offer them the choices they need to continue to grow and enjoy the individual lifestyle that Lambs Farm provides.

True to our mission, we are committed to ensuring our older Participants grow old with the dignity they deserve. It is, after all, in large part due to our exemplary programming that they are living longer than ever anticipated. At the same time, after waiting to join Lambs Farm for so many years, it is more than fitting that we assure our younger Participants the ability to enhance their lives by meeting and exceeding their expectations. Of course, all of these modifications and additions to our programming do not come without a cost. With 35% of our programming dedicated to our “quality of life” programs that already do not qualify for State funding, adding even more is a very real concern. I suppose above all else that is what really keeps me awake at night.

And then I focus on the many people who have supported our efforts over the years – those of you who believe in our mission and who have made an investment in the lives of the remarkable men and women of Lambs Farm. Our New Beginning is really what the legacy of Lambs Farm has always been – to provide our Participants every opportunity to live meaningful lives. Now, more than ever, your support will ensure that they will do just that.


Dianne M. Yaconetti

Read more about our history and programs here.

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