NSSRA Purchases Former Lakeside Congregation Building in Highland Park for New Recreation Facility

Members of NSSRA’s Board of Directors and full-time staff celebrate the purchase NSSRA’s new facility at the recent Board meeting on Thursday, September 12.

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Northbrook – October 2, 2019 – Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) ended its six-year search for a new facility on Thursday, August 29 when its purchase of Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism was made official.

Set back on Lake Cook Road near the Edens Expressway, the 5.5 acre campus and 30,000 square foot facility was put on the market by Lakeside last November in preparation for its June 2019 merger with Congregation Solel (1301 Clavey Road). For NSSRA, Lakeside’s location is ideal, in the heart of the northern suburbs and central to NSSRA’s 13 partner agencies.

NSSRA serves approximately 1,800 children, teens and adults with disabilities living in its partner communities throughout the northern suburbs. The programs and services offered by NSSRA enhance lives, foster friendships, build skills, and create the kinds of experiences that make for fuller, richer lives. With the distinction as the first Special Recreation Association in the country, NSSRA has been creating an environment of belonging through play since 1970.

“This is an important step in our nearly 50-year history,” said NSSRA’s Executive Director Craig Culp. “We set a goal in 2013 to find the most suitable, permanent home for NSSRA, and this new facility will not only accomplish that goal, but also shape the next 50 years of fun, friendship and community for NSSRA participants and families.”

Speaking on behalf of the newly combined synagogue, Makom Solel Lakeside, Executive Director Rick Schuster explained that the sale of the building to NSSRA has brought a sense of comfort to members of the Lakeside Congregation community, many of whom harbored fond memories of significant events spanning several years if not decades into the past.

“The opportunity to preserve the building and turn it over to a nonprofit organization that provides such outstanding services for the community is of immense value and is consistent with our Judaic teachings of tikkun olam (repairing the world),” said Schuster.

Roughly half of the funds to purchase the Lakeside came from a capital reserve account created in 2013 when NSSRA’s Board of Directors identified the need for a new facility. The remaining finances needed were provided thanks to significant donations from a generous NSSRA family and NSSRA Foundation.

NSSRA hopes to begin renovations in early 2020 and expects to transition operations and programming to the facility within the next 12 – 18 months.

“After so many years of working towards this goal, the Board is thrilled that NSSRA finally has a new home for NSSRA participants to call their own,” said Board Chair Kris Ford, a trustee with the Village of Riverwoods. “This new home is a tribute to all those who have supported our mission over the last 50 years, and to those who continue to support creating an environment of belonging through play for children, teens and adults with disabilities.”

NSSRA is partnered with the Park Districts of Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka; the Cities of Highwood and Lake Forest; and the Village of Riverwoods.

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NSSRA provides and facilitates year-round recreation programs and services for children, teens and adults with disabilities who live in the partner communities. NSSRA is an extension of ten park districts, two cities and one village in the northern suburbs of Chicago. This partnership includes the Park Districts of Deerfield, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Kenilworth, Northbrook, Northfield, Wilmette and Winnetka; the Cities of Highwood and Lake Forest; and the Village of Riverwoods. NSSRA has been creating an environment of belonging through play since 1970, and has the distinction as the first Special Recreation Association in the country. For more information about NSSRA and the programs and services it provides, visit www.nssra.org.

Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association Foundation (NSSRA Foundation) was established in 1997 to support the mission of NSSRA by raising and granting supplemental funding. NSSRA Foundation raises funds throughout the year with all proceeds benefiting the Association. The Foundation, in conjunction with NSSRA, hosts annual events for all donors, supporters and families. The Foundation also raises funds through solicitation of grants and their annual Holiday Appeal. Throughout the year, NSSRA Foundation receives generous support from many individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses and community organizations. For more information about NSSRA Foundation visit www.nssrafoundation.org.


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