2 brothers create organization to support people with developmental disabilities

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RIVER FOREST, Ill. — Two brothers made it their mission to provide resources and opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Ten years ago, Mike and Phil Carmody founded Opportunity Knocks to offer a variety of after work and after school programs for people with these disabilities.

The two came up with the idea from their younger brother, John, who has Down syndrome. Mike and Phil said they were concerned about the lack of opportunities their brother had as he was approaching adulthood.

Their mission they created was a day program called Life Shop. This program was made for adults, 22 years old and up. It focuses on job training and other life skills like farming, which helped create another idea.

The two brothers made a social enterprise to make pickles, jar them and sell them at nearby restaurants. There are seven full-time employees.

Program Director Kim Surprenant, has worked with the brothers for nearly nine years. She said there is a special connection between the brothers and the community. Mike said that the organization helps build confidence through their connections.

“ We’re getting people outside of their comfort zone and people are learning things that they like," Mike said.

Mike and Phil Carmody are two of Chicago's Very Own.

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