Elim Community Abuzz After Guillen Visit

November 26, 2013

For Elim, Friday, November 22 was a very special day. Students and staff throughout Elim filed into the autism program cafeteria where Ozzie Guillen, former manager of the Chicago White Sox and the Florida Marlins, waited. He graciously met and talked with every student who came up to meet him, posing for hundreds of pictures and signing dozens of autographs along the way.

Guillen was excited to spend time at Elim's Crestwood campus. "I have worked with kids with autism before, and I have helped kids who have cancer too. And now that I come here, I see how it's very important to help not just the kids, but the staff too. Elim needs more support, we need to help not only the kids, but the people who work with the kids.

Guillen was impressed with the size of Elim's programs, the number of students they serve (over 280, including 77 in the autism program alone), and the large number of professional staff needed to serve them. "Now that we have seen the school, we are going to keep on supporting what you do, what your staff do. Because to do this job, you have to have patience and love and you just need to love your job.

The visit not only had a positive effect on Elim students and staff, but on Guillen and his family as well.  "I'm gonna come more often. It just takes 3 or 4 hours and you get to see so much smiling and happiness. Sometimes, it's hard to remember how you are with the community, and that's part of why I'm doing this. I think that's why Reinsdorf made me a manager, so I could see how to work with the community, to help the community you have. When you see that you can help, you are thankful."

“Sometimes I think people don't see me as just a human being, a parent, a brother, a friend. Doing something like this let's people see who you are and it's an opportunity to do something different.”

This same desire permeates the Elim community, where one of the core values they live out is the truth that “each person has value and purpose in God’s kingdom.” Just as Guillen hopes people will see him as just a normal person, Elim’s community of staff and supporters hopes the same thing for the adults and children served here.

On behalf of the Ozzie Guillen Foundation, Guillen also made a generous donation of $5,000 toward the speech therapy programs in Elim's autism program.

The Elim community is grateful to the Guillen family and their foundation, not only for the generous donation, but for the time and attention they afforded Elim students and staff members.

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