About

Our History

1963

David Graf, a Vocational Arts teacher at Sandwich High School, his wife Juanita, and William Squier Sr., an executive with the James Knights Company of Sandwich, and his wife Virginia began the Open Door Workshop in the basement of the Graf residence in Sandwich. The consumers included Grafs’ daughter Cynthia and Squiers’ son William Jr. plus four other adults with developmental disabilities. The first Director was Mrs. Eileen Fish. She was soon followed by Mrs. Helen Halbesma of Yorkville.

Sandwich Community Sheltered Workshop incorporated on November 26.

1964

Grown to 17 consumers, Open Door moved out of Grafs’ basement into the Otto House, owned by and next door to the Federated Church in Sandwich. A related entity, the Hope Haven Class, was begun in the Congregational Church at the corner of Eddy and 3rd Streets in Sandwich, a class for trainable mentally handicapped children rejected by the schools. It was started by Evangeline Gowdy, Rev. Robert Dell, Sandra Wilson, Lois Larson and others. It ultimately became part of Open Door, and the children participated in programs at 405 S. Wells Street in Sandwich.

1966

A community fund raising effort raised an amount large enough to underwrite the construction of a new workshop building and 405 South Wells in Sandwich, Illinois was completed and occupied in 1967.

1968

Open Door began assembling Dave Graf’s “Holler Dollar” game and trying to market it in order to generate income from within.

1969-70

Open Door accepted government funding for the first time. Director Helen Halbesma stepped down and was succeeded by Doug Crane.