In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop on Chicago’s State Street. It was like every other small business with one exception; the 12 employees had developmental disabilities.
The store was the embodiment of Bob and Corinne’s belief that those with developmental disabilities deserved to lead productive and fulfilling lives, which included meaningful employment. When they opened the store’s doors for the first time, they planted the seeds of an idea that grew into the exemplary organization where adults with developmental disabilities continue to thrive today.
During the State Street years, The Lambs received support and growing recognition for its mission from the Chicago community at large. Individual donors, as well as corporate and foundation supporters, heralded the work of Bob and Corinne, recognizing that the Lambs Pet Shop was not only providing employment opportunities and a sense of community for Participants, but was becoming a model program as well.
Bolstered by this support, Bob and Corinne expanded their vision in 1965, relocating 35 miles north to Libertyville, Illinois, when noted philanthropist W. Clement Stone purchased and ultimately donated a 70-acre farm.
With the help of family members and donors, they turned a restored, century-old barn into one of the area’s largest pet stores and used the additional space to create new businesses and bring more adults with developmental disabilities into the program.
Today, Lambs Farm makes a difference in the lives of nearly 250 Participants and welcomes thousands of visitors every year. Located just off I-94 and Route 176 near Libertyville, it’s a special place where adults with developmental disabilities create lives of their own.
It’s a place where our participants are safe and empowered to choose the working and living environments that best suit them, decide how to spend their free time and learn new skills and hobbies. It’s a place where volunteers – individuals, groups and corporations – make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people every year. It is a community where families can come to teach their children about people with disabilities.
Lambs Farm is about helping people and helping people help themselves. It is about self-reliance, hard work and a nurturing environment, all working together to cultivate human fulfillment. Simply put, Lambs Farm is a place where people grow.
Your visit isn't complete with out you helping support Lambs Farm by purchasing at the Cedar Chest Thrift Shop, Sugar Maple Country Store, and having a fantastic meal at the Magnolia Cafe & Bakery with the best service this side of the Mississippi. What a great time for all.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.