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St. Coletta's Community Day Services program inspires two business entrepreneurs

Sep 15, 2022

Meet Donnisha and Arlene who turned their passions for baking and jewelry making into business opportunities

Two participants in St. Coletta’s of Illinois’ Community Day Services program have taken their skills to the next level.

Donnisha, who has a flair for creating colorful paintings and beaded jewelry, has started selling her creations while Arlene, who has a passion for baking, hosts regular bake sales under the name Johnson & McKay City Bakery.

“We are so proud of Donnisha and Arlene,” said Heather Benedick, chief operating officer for St. Coletta’s of Illinois. “Their entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring.”

Donnisha and Arlene participate in St. Coletta’s Community Day Services program, which offers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities an opportunity to enhance their adaptive living skills and independence through a variety of programs.

Five days a week, participants meet at St. Coletta’s Tinley Park campus to work with job coaches, recreational therapists and other trained personnel to build their living skills and economic self-sufficiency through in-house work opportunities and supported employment in the community.

It was in recreational therapy that Donnisha discovered her flair for painting and jewelry making. She now sells her bracelets, keychains and paintings to friends, family and the St. Coletta’s community.

Arlene, who inherited her love of baking from her grandmother, started baking batches of cookies, brownies and cupcakes at her group home in Homer Glen and sharing them with friends and family. Pretty soon, they were craving more and placing individual orders with Arlene.

As word of mouth spread about Arlene’s tasty treats, she expanded her business once again, using proceeds from previous sales, to include regular bake sales at St. Coletta’s.

“We always look forward to Arlene’s bake sales,” said Benedick. “She makes the most delicious sugar cookies and brownies.”

St. Coletta’s of Illinois has been providing vocational, educational and residential services to the developmentally disabled since 1949 when it was founded by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.

Today, more than 300 individuals from the south and southwest suburbs benefit from St. Coletta’s programs each year.

To learn more about the non-profit organization, please visit or call Annette Skafgaard at 708-342-5200.

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