On May 14, 2020 Gateway Services/the Arc of Johnson County lost longtime friend and advocate for people with disabilities, Ilene Younger Qualkinbush.
Ilene was a registered nurse and mother of two. Inspired by her daughter Susan, who was born with severe developmental disabilities, Ilene helped establish the ARC of Indiana in 1956 where she spent many years a volunteer and staff member.
Ilene was a tireless advocate for people with developmental disabilities and was a consultant for the Indiana Board of Health where she organized genetics workshops throughout Indiana. Ilene has been recognized locally and nationally for her work, including the Sagamore of the Wabash Award.
In 1998, Ilene volunteered her time at Gateway Services to help prepare for our 35th anniversary celebration. She spent many hours reviewing thirty five years’ worth of historical archives in order to write highlights for every year Gateway had operated.
We have Ilene to thank for the phrase we frequently use in agency information.
In November 1962, two mothers from opposite ends of Johnson County met over a cup of coffee to explore the possibilities of establishing a school for their children. Within a week they started knocking on doors . . . and soon located a dozen parents who joined in their efforts.
Thank you Ilene! Your hard work and sacrifice on behalf of citizens with disabilities will always be remembered and appreciated.