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Our History

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A proud history of serving the Rockford area.


Milestone, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors comprised of parents and guardians of the individuals we serve and community business leaders. Milestone’s mission is as follows:

“Everyone has the right to be treated with respect, to participate in community life, to develop and exercise personal competence, to have family and friend, and to make decisions in their lives.” 

Milestone was founded by James P. Hamilton in 1973, opening up a residential home for intellectually and developmentally disabled adults in an apartment on Kishwaukee Street, the first residential care program of its kind in Illinois. 

In 1976 Milestone developed a Supported Living Arrangement for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities that resided in their own apartments, once again the first program of its kind in Illinois. 

Nineteen seventy-nine was an historical year at Milestone as we opened Elmwood Heights, a highly specialized residential community created under a special grant from the state of Illinois for adults with severe physical and intellectual and developmental disabilities. We created a comfortable, home-like atmosphere while providing around-the-clock medical supervision. Today Milestone serves as many as 96 individuals on the Elmwood Heights campus. 

In addition, in 1979 Milestone also opened apartments for physically and intellectually and developmentally disabled adults which served as a model for developers to accommodate this previously unserved and underserved population. 

In 1981 Milestone initiated the construction of our first adult group home in the Rockford community. These group homes serve individuals in a home-like setting scattered throughout the city.  Today Milestone owns and operates 30 group homes serving over 150 adults throughout the Rockford community. 

In 1992 Milestone opened Milestone Industries, a sheltered workshop and vocational training center providing training and employment to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Located at 4060 McFarland Road, Milestone Industries staff provide meaningful work, living skills training and recreational activities for the more than 100 adults it serves.  

In 1999 the Milestone Dental Clinic opened to become the first dental facility in the United States devoted exclusively to serving intellectual and developmentally disabled children and adults from 13 counties in Illinois. 

In 2001 Milestone merged with RocVale children’s Home, serving children and young adults aged 6 to 21 on the campus located on North Rockton Avenue on a beautiful campus which includes a playground for the children. 

In 2009 Milestone’s founder, Jim Hamilton retired and was eventually named Director Emeritus. Mr. Hamilton was a visionary in providing the type of lifestyle for the individuals we serve to attain the mission of the organization. Jim will forever be remembered as a trailblazer. He transitioned to President of the Milestone RocVale Foundation and continues in that capacity. Milestone’s second President and CEO, Shawn Way assumed the role having served 11 years on the Board of Directors. 

Milestone continues to operate with one goal, one mission in mind. To provide the, most safe, meaningful life as possible for the 275 individuals we serve.  Our staff are trained to provide safety, teach living skills, partake in leisure activities and, in simplest terms, provide the best life for the individuals we serve.