Lambs Farm Blog

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

Dollhouse Architecture Creations

A new Quest class started this year with the help of Michele Hendrickson, a Lambs Farm Participant. Michele has cerebral palsy, which affects the movement of her right hand. Michele never lets her disability limit her love for crafts. Michele has always had a passion for art and is constantly finding ways to embrace her creativity. One of her favorite shows, “Making It,” highlights the best makers from around the country who take on a series of handmade projects that result in a final craft-off.  After watching an episode that included a dollhouse challenge, she felt inspired by the contestants and thought Dollhouse Architecture would be a perfect Quest class.

Janine Neumann, a Quest Instructor, agreed with Michele and got the class up and running. Five Participants joined Michele and started building their dream homes.  They used recycled cardboard for the foundation and all kinds of mixed media to help the house come together. Staff helped Participants use recycled wood to create tables, chairs and beds, tiles and carpet samples for flooring, toothpicks and little lights to make lamps and different paints to add splashes of color to the walls. “We liked being able to bounce ideas off the instructors and our friends in the class,” Michele said. “We all helped each other out.”

Michele with her completed dollhouse.

Each Participant architect thought outside the box to add their own personal touch to their house. There were dollhouses that had a movie theater with bright lights, pools made out of shiny sequins and windowsill gardens made from popsicle sticks.

The class ran for 12 weeks, and Participants had a great time using their imagination and artistic abilities. “Everyone loved designing the houses, and it was so fun bringing their creative ideas to life,” Janine said.

Quest looks forward to seeing what designs the next Dollhouse Architecture class comes up with!

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Restaurant Week 2019

The Magnolia Cafe & Bakery at Lambs Farm is excited to be participating in Visit Lake County’s Restaurant Week once again! From March 1 to 10, we will be offering a cup of homemade soup, select entrees and your choice of a Famous Fudge Brownie or Sweet Apple Slice for just $10!

Click here to view the full menu.



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Winter Fit Meals 2019

We kicked off 2019 with a new FIT meal lineup! All of these tasty meals are under 500 calories and are reduced in sodium, carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Each meal is served with a side of fresh fruit and iced tea or coffee for just $5.99.

Week 1
Turkey Sausage and Apple Stuffed Corn Squash
Healthy Grilled Cheese
Turkey Chili (new!)
Spinach and Egg Breakfast Pizza (new!)
Turkey Burger

Week 2
Skinny White Chicken Enchilada (new!)
Avocado Chicken Salad
Vegetarian Avocado and Cheese Panini
Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast (new!)
Fish Tacos



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George Celebrates Retirement

“We miss George at the Magnolia Café & Bakery,” Participants Sari and Tom said. “He was a fun guy to work with.”

George, a Lambs Farm Participant, is now a retired man. He took on janitorial duties at the restaurant for 21 years. George loved spending his work days sweeping the patio, being a dishwasher and keeping the building spick and span.

George and his former boss, Elaine

Many Participants decide to try new jobs from time to time in the many Lambs Farm businesses, but George’s heart stayed in the Café. He chose to spend his career in a place he loved and enjoyed time with his co-workers, who turned into dear friends.

“We love George’s hardworking attitude,” Magnolia Café & Bakery manager, Elaine Bock said. “Even as George aged, he was determined to complete his tasks.”

Though George loved his job, he is truly enjoying retirement at our Enrichment Center, one of the programs Lambs Farm offers to ensure Participants have enjoyable and productive retirement years. He has already discovered that he’s a big fan of group outings, especially to the Jelly Belly Factory. He continues to use his customer service skills as a Coffee Clutch assistant and works on a variety of arts and crafts projects.

“I think I deserved to retire,” George said. “I’m happy.”

George celebrating his retirement with the Magnolia Cafe & Bakery staff.


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Brian’s Pet Center Passion

When you visit the Dogwood Garden & Pet Center, there’s a good chance that Brian, a Lambs Farm Participant, will greet you with a big smile.

Brian at the Dogwood Garden & Pet Center

Brian has worked in the Pet Center for an impressive 25 years, and he truly loves his job. He spends his work days keeping the store spotless and giving love to every puppy who stays at Lambs Farm until they find their forever home. “Dogs make me happy,” Brian said. “They’re my favorite part about my job.”

Brian creates bonds with the puppies, but he is ecstatic when families leave with one of his buddies in their arms. In fact, Brian enjoys helping customers through the adoption process.

In August, Kelly Fojtik and her family adopted their Labrador Retriever Mix, Leia, who is now Clover. “Brian said Leia (Clover) was the best dog and to get her,” Kelly said. “We are so grateful to him and will always remember that he steered us towards her.”

Clover is grateful, too. She loves her new family and is always the life of the party. The Fojtik’s look forward to all the future memories with Clover by their side. “We will always care well for her and think fondly of Lambs Farm,” Kelly said.

The enthusiasm, attitude and joy Brian brings to the Dogwood Garden & Pet Center is what our Co-Founders envisioned when they opened the original Pet Shop on State Street in 1961. They would be incredibly proud.

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Mike’s Major Moments

In honor of the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary, Mike, a well-rounded athlete, reflects on his accomplishments since joining Lambs Farm in 1984.

“My life has changed since I started competing,” Mike said. “I’ve been playing sports for as long as I’ve been at Lambs.”

Mike at World Games in 1995

When he first moved to Lambs Farm, the Recreation Manager introduced Mike to daily exercise and track. Ever since his first competition, he’s been interested in developing new skills in a variety of sports. He discovered a love for tennis, and in 1995 qualified for the Ninth Special Olympics World Games in New Haven, Connecticut. He competed with 7,000 athletes from 143 countries and left victorious. He was the first Lambs Farm athlete ever to bring home a shiny bronze medal from an international competition.

Mike and his dedication to Special Olympic sports continued to grow as the years went on. About ten years ago, he decided to join the golf team. It was much to his surprise that he would do something most golfers never achieve in their lifetime. On May 6, 2010, Mike shot a hole-in-one at the Vernon Hills Golf Course during Special Olympics practice. “I was ecstatic,” Mike said. “I was the first Participant to make a hole-in-one and everyone was happy for me.”

Mike with his hole-in-one plaques

A year later, on May 5, 2011, Mike did it again. He shot a 199-yard hole-in-one at the same course. Those dates will always have a special place in his heart. He thinks about the exciting moments every time glances at his plaques and Biggest Achievement trophies he received for two consecutive hole-in-ones.

Today, Mike continues to pursue his Special Olympic dreams. He still participates in track and golf but added softball, floor hockey, snowshoeing, basketball, bocce and bowling to his list of activities. His involvement has earned him Athlete of the Year three times, and he proudly decorates his apartment with his giant medal collection.

Mike is happy to come back to Lambs Farm with new hardware after competitions, but he loves the opportunity to practice with his friends and create memories when traveling. “Life would sure be boring without Special Olympics,” Mike said. “I love the staff, volunteers and all the people I get to meet.”

Mike is one of many athletes at Lambs Farm who is proud to honor the Special Olympics 50th Anniversary. July 20 marks the official birthday, but our Participants celebrate the opportunity to explore their talents every time they grab a ball, high-five a teammate or step onto a field.

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Summer FIT Meals 2018

The Magnolia Cafe & Bakery is kicking off summer with a new line of FIT Meals. A FIT meal is a recipe that is under 500 calories, reduced in sodium, carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Most FIT meals have a focus on entree salads and vegetarian dishes.

FIT meals are complete with a side of fresh fruit and fresh brewed iced tea or coffee for just $5.99 – stop in today!

Week 1:
Vegetarian Greek Egg Pita
Breakfast Salad
Turkey Reuben Panini
Fajita Chicken Stir Fry
Chicken Waldorf Salad

Week 2:
Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad with Chicken
Avocado Veggie Panini
Chopped Greek Salad with Chicken
Baja Salad
Tuna Nicoise Salad Bowl

Week 3 Favorites:
Turkey Burger
Avocado Chicken Salad
Fish Tacos
Healthy Grilled Cheese
Chicken Taco Salad


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Keller Williams Returns for RED Day

Keller Williams joined us for RED Day,  their annual day of service, which stands for Renew, Energize and Donate. Their effort embodies Keller Williams generous spirit and commitment to giving back to the cities and towns they live and work in.

Staff purchased supplies to the Magnolia Cafe & Bakery, giving rooms a fresh paint job and updating the wall decor to give it a new and improved look. They helped prepare for the summer season by pulling weeds, trimming bushes, applying mulch, hanging flower baskets around the pergola and gazebo, as well as donating new red umbrellas for the restaurant.

We are honored they returned Lambs Farm for their special day, and we are incredibly grateful for their support.

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See Me for Me: Sarah’s Dream

At age six, sign language was merely an interest for Sarah. Years later, her skill has given her the passion, determination and voice to speak on behalf of the special needs community at Lambs Farm and beyond.

Sarah’s story begins with Linda Bove, the actress with hearing loss, also known as Linda the Librarian on Sesame Street. Sarah recalls being captivated by her personality and ability to teach American Sign Language to children with and without the disability.

“Linda Bove was my mentor,” Sarah said. “I loved watching her; I was glued to the television.”

Sarah’s parents saw how fascinated their daughter was with sign language and knew it was something she had the ability to pursue. In no time, Sarah was signed up for classes at the local Park District.

Sarah in her Lambs Farm house.

When she completed the beginner courses, it was evident that Sarah found her passion. She was considered advanced in sign language after her 12-week course and continued her education with a private instructor. As Sarah’s signing skills developed, she moved on to Harper College to focus on linguistic analysis and interpretation. She ended up graduating at the top of her class.

“I wanted to use my skills to give back to the community,” Sarah said – and she’s done just that.

Sarah used her skills for over ten years helping several students at a church and volunteered her time at Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA), where she interpreted for a young girl named Samantha. “It was a special moment when I met her,” Sarah said. “I signed to let her show her shoe was untied, and that let her know that I could communicate with her.”

Also during that time, Sarah and her mother, Mary Anne, were part of a Sign & Story program at the local library. Mary Anne read the stories aloud while Sarah signed and taught children their ABCs.

At the heart of Sarah’s goal in learning sign language was the hope that she could be a role model to others with developmental disabilities. As someone who has been both a target and active bystander of bullying, Sarah believes people need to look beyond any disability and see someone for who they are as a person.

“I let all Participants know at Lambs Farm that if they have a talent or gift, don’t give that up,” Sarah said. “If anyone ever doubts you, stand up, fight the bullies and say, ‘This is who I am.’”

Sarah’s passion and spirit continues to grow at Lambs Farm. She has a job and her witty, fun personality is loved by all. She makes it clear that nothing can stand between her and her dreams, as she aspires to be a sign language instructor, actress and motivational speaker.

“I’m Sarah, a special needs adult,” she said. “I have Down syndrome, but look where I am now thanks to my mentor on Sesame Street, my parents and my ability to never give up.”

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National Proposal Day: Ashley’s Story

Ashley and her husband were hoping to find a wedding venue that gave them a special feeling, but they weren’t having any luck. “Nothing felt right,” Ashley said. “But then I called Lambs Farm.”

After meeting Ursula, the Magnolia Café & Bakery’s Assistant Manager, and touring Lambs Farm’s ceremony and reception spaces, Ashley and her husband knew this is where they wanted to tie the knot and begin their journey together. They were drawn to the laid-back, rustic farm feel, as well as the high quality and budget-friendly services.

As a busy bride, Ashley was thrilled to know that she had guidance. Lambs Farm staff provided exceptional hospitality, paid great attention to detail and had excitement for the couple’s special day like it was their own. “The process was so simple and easy for us,” Ashley said. “Ursula and everyone else involved helped us create a perfect stress-free day.”

When wedding day arrived in May of 2016, guests were impressed by the open patios, bar, the breathtaking views from the ceremony location and the countless options for photos that will be cherished forever.

“We made so many great memories and people still talk about our wedding to this day,” Ashley said. “I would recommend Lambs Farm to anyone.”


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