TradeWinds History

TradeWinds is defined by a strong foundation of people – those we serve and those who champion our cause.


The Lake County Association for Crippled Children was established to provide speech and occupational therapy services.  


More families received services with sites added in church basements, schoolrooms, YMCAs, and rented storefronts.

Director Ted Dombrowski inspired volunteers from labor, business, and civic organizations to come together and make history.  


The “Labor of Love,” a new 15,000-sq-ft home in Gary, earned a Presidential Commendation for being the largest rehabilitation center built entirely by volunteers in the United States.

A group of generous business leaders, who were later officially named “Pirates”, donated operating funds. Now an elite fighting force for children with special needs, Pirates, Inc. has contributed more than $3.75 million in ongoing support.

Brunswick Elementary student Greg Corwin won a 1966 naming contest for the nonprofit agency, which propels people with special needs to a better quality of life just as the “TradeWinds” propel sailors on the seas.

TradeWinds officially incorporated in 1967.  


New for adults, the opportunity to earn a paycheck through Pre-Vocational training/Industries, and three new wings were added to the building to accommodate the agency’s growth.  


More jobs added in Industries/Pre-Vocational Services (sewing manufacturing, small parts assembly, pack and ship) and computer recycling.

Adult Day Activity Program & Training (ADAPT) was introduced.

Residential group home living debuted in four locations.

Employment Services are offered, supporting both workers and community employers with job placement and follow-along services.  


More children served with new Child Care and Summer Camp programs.

More jobs were created with the establishment of TradeWinds’ Sign Shop and outsourcing opportunities in Package, Assembly & Order Fulfillment departments.

Supported Living services added for community residents.  


Two more residential group homes opened.

ADAPT 2 classroom was added.

Respite for community caregivers provided for a minimum of 3 hours to overnight in TradeWinds’ apartment or their homes.

More jobs created through outsourcing, which includes Saco Industries in Lowell, expand skills training.  


TradeWinds renovated a donated building and moved to Hobart.

ADAPT 3 classroom was added.

Deaf Services partnership brought interpreting, advocacy, and case management services for the Deaf and hard of hearing, plus community outreach including American Sign Language classes (ASL) to TradeWinds.

More outsourcing jobs were created with jewelry assembly and order fulfillment.

Additional 10,000-sq-ft of space leased across the street to accommodate a nearly 40% increase in service provision since moving to Hobart.  


ADAPT 4 classroom was added for seniors.

The Chicago Lighthouse partners with TradeWinds to open Northwest Indiana’s first dedicated Low Vision Clinic.

More jobs added through outsourcing opportunities from Unilever in Hammond, PEGz Clickable Letterz in Elk Grove Village, IL and Tri-State Industries in Hammond. Computer Recycling evolves with new CyclePoint™ partnership and a more broad-based approach to “Environmental Electronics Disposal” for Northwest Indiana.

“Today TradeWinds is home to training and production operations that are a living testament to what the human spirit can accomplish.”

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TradeWinds provides services for children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities

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Established through philanthropy and volunteer support, your donations, time or talents to TradeWinds helps people with disabilities achieve greater independence, dignity and personal freedom.

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