Lambs Farm celebrating 60 years of providing home, community and purpose
For 60 years, Lambs Farm in Libertyville has provided homes, jobs and a community to people with developmental disabilities.
The organization will celebrate those six decades of service with a special event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with live music, crafts, games and family fun.
The nonprofit began in 1961 when Bob Terese and Corinne Owen started a pet shop in Chicago called The Lambs, which was operated by adults with developmental disabilities. They were so successful that by 1965 there were 22 people working in the increasingly overcrowded store.
The next year, the organization purchased a 50-acre estate in Libertyville, and over the years it became the Lambs Farm it is known as today.
Today, about 200 residents live on or near the farm. Every day they take part in vocational, residential and recreational programs that serve the organization's mission of providing a safe place to live, work, make mistakes and grow.
President and CEO Dianne Yaconetti, who has worked at Lambs Farm for nearly 20 years, said the staff and residents are like a family.
"I never had any children, and now I have all of them. It's that kind of relationship," said Yaconetti, 75. "At some point I'm going to have to retire and I'm just not sure how I'm going to do it."
Lambs Farm features five businesses run by residents and a staff, including the Farmyard, where guests can pet and feed a variety of barnyard animals. There's also the Sugar Maple Country Store, which sells chocolates, jams, breads and more; The Magnolia Cafe & Bakery, which offers sandwiches, soups, salads; The Cedar Chest Thrift Shop, which sells donated items from clothes to crafts; and The Dogwood Garden & Pet Center, which connects families with rescue cats and dogs.
Yaconetti said there's always a long waitlist for people with disabilities hoping to be placed at Lambs Farm. Some parents sign up their children as infants hoping there will be an opening by the time they are adults.
That speaks to what a great opportunity Lambs Farm provides their residents, Yaconetti said.
Admission to the anniversary celebration is $8 for adults and $15 for children. More information can be found at lambsfarm.org. Lambs Farm is at 14245 W. Rockland Road in Libertyville.