The JJs List Blog

“Never, Never, Never Give Up”

Posted by on July 13, 2017 - 26 Comments

My Farewell to Search and

These are words that a leader named Winston Churchill said to some students many years ago when the people of Great Britain were living through some of the challenging days of World War II. (What Churchill actually said was “Never Give In,” but that’s for another blog – ha, ha).

“Never, never, never give up” are words that I say to myself when things are changing and challenging.  As I write this final blog to say farewell to Search and to, I think about how those words have carried me and our amazing team of volunteers, staff, No Boundaries families and Disability Awareness Players through lots of changing and challenging times.  These words have also carried us through many creative and imaginative times and have fueled my passion and work to help people with disabilities participate fully in their communities and to have their voices heard.

My work with, and advocacy for, people with disabilities will continue.  I am leaving Search to take on a new role as Director of IL ABLE (A Better Life Experience) for the Treasurer of the State of Illinois.  In this role, I will continue to dedicate myself to helping individuals with disabilities and their families build lives of choice and empowerment through one of the most important opportunities for people with disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ABLE Savings and Investment program.    

Here at Search’s busy location at 824 Dempster Street in Evanston, IL all of our great programs will continue: will continue to thrive and to connect businesses and their disability-aware service features to the community in the capable hands of self-advocates, team members and the many people who post on-line reviews about the disability-aware features of businesses throughout the country.

Disability Awareness Trainings will continue to grow and impact thousands of staff and students of businesses, organizations and schools under the amazing leadership of Search, Inc.

The Pace/ Hop on the Bus to Independence Workshops (has your school or organization had one yet?) will continue to teach our students with disabilities about public transportation and give them the tools they need to travel safely and independently in their communities.

No Boundaries will continue to support adults with disabilities to build on-land and on-line skills that they need for the 21st Century workplace, and to collaborate with Search’s Career Services team to help individuals with disabilities obtain fulfilling employment of their choice.

Finally, Search’s commitment to innovation and its vision to provide person-centered service to the individuals it serves have never been stronger, even while we grapple with a state system in crisis.  It has been an honor to work with Search’s dedicated staff to help individuals with disabilities live self-directed and fulfilling lives.

Never, Never, Never Give Up!  Let’s keep going.  Let’s keep building lives of independence, let’s keep making things better.  Together.

Your Partner and Friend,


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Betty Giorgi says:
Jul 13, 2017

Good Luck in your new endeavor. You have made such a difference in so many lives already.

Mary Curran Rhodes says:
Jul 13, 2017

Congratulations JJ on your new venture. Leah and I are grateful for the impact you made on our lives.

Kr says:
Jul 13, 2017

You are truly a bundle of inspiration dedication and love. Congratulations to you for all your hard work and vision in creating what you have, helping so many. You are a wonder. Good luck with next endeavours!

Shirley Perez says:
Jul 13, 2017

Congratulations on your new job! Looking forward to connecting with you in your new postition.


Michael Babicz says:
Jul 13, 2017

Congratulations JJ. I am sure you will do great things at the state. I have enjoyed watching the progress of your organizations and getting ideas which we can use here as well. Best wishes.

Tasha says:
Jul 13, 2017

I wish you nothing but the best. It has been a pleasure working with you in the time that you have been with Search. You have a very strong presence and make people feel so comfortable with you. Enjoy the new chapter in your life journey! Best Wishes!!!!

John Friedland says:
Jul 13, 2017

To say that you will be missed is an understatement. I wish you the best in your continuing adventure.

John says:
Jul 13, 2017

Good Luck, JJ

Leslie Simmer says:
Jul 13, 2017

Wow! This is big news indeed. You have achieved so much, and your legacy lives on. I feel a bit weepy too, but am excited for what the next chapter will bring and how you will be able to make change at a state level! Wishing you and JJ’s List and Search and everyone therein all the best as you continue to evolve and grow.

Janice Duvall says:
Jul 13, 2017

A Job Well Done! We hope for an expanded role for you in advocacy for the Disability Community. JJs List is a great resource. Soldier On!

Jake says:
Jul 13, 2017

Well said to both of you. JJ, I think I speak for everybody when I say that we’re going to miss you in this space. But I for one know that you’re going to do awesome in your new position.

Kris Cichowski says:
Jul 13, 2017

Your pioneering spirit and remarkable accomplishments have been exceptionally helpful and motivating. Many thanks for your extraordinary leadership. Cheers to new adventures!

Teri Steinberg says:
Jul 13, 2017

Rock on JJ. You inspire us all!

Suzanne Martin says:
Jul 13, 2017

The State of Illinois has made a wise decision in appointing you!

Stephanie Minich says:
Jul 13, 2017

JJ, I am so excited for you! You will do such great things in your new role:)
Good luck!

Roberta Rekus says:
Jul 14, 2017

You are very deserving of this new position – congratulations! “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” – Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Lynn Walsh says:
Jul 14, 2017

I can’t imagine JJ’s List and the Players without JJ, but I know there is a great team who will be filling your shoes and providing all the wonderful resources we’ve come to count on! Best of luck to you! Lynn

Anton Gadbois says:
Jul 17, 2017

JJs List has helped me so much in my work and in the community. JJ has helped me increase my professionalism in the work force. JJ has helped me to understand the importance of emailing and responding in a timely manner to important matters. She also showed me how to organize and manage a Google calendar and increase my daily living skills by doing so. I want to congratulate JJ sincerely with all of the support she has given me. I wish her the best in the long future. Moving forward, I will take all of what I have learned so far from JJ and No Boundaries and will use it every day to keep growing..



Brian Rohde says:
Jul 17, 2017

Good luck JJ! I wish you well with your new role at the State Treasurer’s office! It has been a pleasure to work with you and the disability awareness trainings have been very valuable to me in strengthening my communication skills! I will stay in touch with you and hope to see you down the road!

Adrian says:
Jul 17, 2017

“Never give up, never surrender” said Tim Allen in the movie Galaxy Quest. Great movie and great quote. This comes to my mind when I saw the title. JJ, you have made a big impact in the lives of many people and yes you will be missed, but our loss is another persons’ or businesses gain. They are very lucky to have you. Good Luck in your new job and with everything you do.

David Thompson says:
Jul 17, 2017

Even though I have only known you a very short time, I wish you good luck in your new endeavor. You may need some if you are dealing with those Illinois politicians in Springfield… not 100 percent sure if that’s what you are doing or not. If you are, well, you might need some old style Edward R. Murrow good luck.

Doug Sullivan says:
Jul 18, 2017

JJ, it’s been a real pleasure to work with you and I know you’ll succeed in your new venture. Pace is better off for having you as a partner.

Abegail Stahr says:
Jul 18, 2017

Hiya JJ, I want you to know that my parents and I are thinking of you and Congratulation on your new position at the Treasurer of the State of Illinois, I think it is a good place to be right so you can be a self-advocate for people with disabilities and I am hoping that you will do some good for us. I am hoping that you talk to the higher-ups about raising our paychecks higher per-hour or per-piece we do in the Des Plaines Warehouse and all over the place that you are appointed to. I am hoping your transition is good, I know for my experiences that it is to move in and settle down, and meet new people there, I hope that they are treating you fairly and nice, because if they don’t treat you well I have some mean words to say to them when I get there, I will be behind your back to defend you. I already miss you a lot JJ, and I miss joking with you. Thank you for teaching me all the things about businesses and Disability Awareness Trainings, it has been fun having you around. Abby

Cathy Christensen says:
Jul 19, 2017

I have been so busy, I just got around to reading your announcement. I think congratulations are in order! I was ambivalent about ABLE until the presentation at ICDD. My son, Jason, has recently opened up an ABLE account. I love the fact that he is in charge of the funds in his ABLE account. Everyone at IL-ABLE has been very helpful and encouraging and very professional. I hope you will continue on the board of ICDD. Best of luck!

Eric Chiu says:
Jul 20, 2017

Good luck on your new jobs and roles. It was a good resource and helpful. The program is going to help me be preparing for internship and looking for job next year.

Matt Gulbransen says:
Aug 31, 2017

Dear JJ
I just wanted to say thank you for coming in to Vaughn high school and working with a few of my friends to get our jobs. Robert Actobsaki, Kelly Hess and I are all working now. Now I am doing the No Boundaries. I wish you were still here so I could see you and tell you about my job. The things I am working on in No Boundaries is time management, practice emailing, and reading.

Sincerely Matt Gulbransen

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