Last Friday I had the opportunity to hear about a wonderful and much needed program that is now available at John Wood Community College. It is called the College for Life program.

The featured speaker at the Quincy Exchange Club meeting was Michelle Westmaas, the coordinator of the “College for Life” program at John Wood. Ms. Westmaas relayed that his program is for students with intellectual disabilities who want to continue their education and go on to college.

College for Life provides students with an enriched college experience. It also offers an inclusive, welcoming place where students are given greater independence to learn and improve work ethics and job skills. This prepares them for opportunities to enter the job paying employment field.

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Many families, since this is a new opportunity for their older student, have not prepared for them to enter the collegiate level since this is a relatively new program nationwide. There is a cost to the program as the annual tuition is approximately $2,500. As a result, the need for donations and benefactors for the program is great to offset the cost. There is also a need for volunteers and even people to teach individual topics that they are well versed in.

To donate, volunteer or teach in the college of Life program at JWCC call 217-641-4105 or contact Michelle Westmaas at www.mwestmass&

Actually, JWCC in 2016 was only the second college in Illinois to provide the program. The first was Lewis & Clark Community College in Alton. John Wood Community College President Mike Elbe was very instrumental in establishing the program at JWCC after hearing of the success of the program at Lewis & Clark Community College.

At the conclusion of the program, Quincy Exchange Club President Cullan Duke presented a $1,000 check for the College For Life program from the Exchange Club. The hope of President Elbe and Michelle Westmaas is that many others will do the same.


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