Donka, Inc. (Donka) is the premier provider of computer training with assistive technology (AT) for persons with physical, visual and other disabilities living in the DuPage County and Kane County area.
Since 1987, Donka’s mission has been to “empower abilities through technology” by teaching individuals with disabilities to use AT — specific types of adaptive hardware or software programs — that gives them the ability to use a computer independently. Through our training program our students develop computer skills to further their education, increase skills for employment and discover new ways to communicate with their community and the world.
Donka was founded in 1987 by Don Van Haveren, a retired Wheaton businessman, who became friends with residents of the DuPage Care Center where he volunteered. He believed that computer training was the way to increase opportunities for people limited by disabilities. Don’s vision has grown into the only program in the Chicago area that provides computer training as a means of education leading to employment, and human service leading to more independent living.
- Small “office” space with two computers at DuPage County Convalescent Center (DPCC) in Wheaton. Four students in the first graduating class.
- Marklund Children’s honors Don Van Haveren with the Friendship Award for Outstanding Humanitarian Service for Handicapped Children.
- The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law on July 26, 1990, a very important milestone along the road to full participation in society for persons with disabilities.
- Bob Reinecke, the DuPage Care Center’s CEO and a Donka Board member and Don Van Haveren receive the Governor’s Award on Long Term Care for “Innovative Volunteer Program in a Long-Term Care Facility.”
- Person of the Year Service Award for Don Van Haveren – Wheaton Rotary Club.
- Award for Best Program in a County Care Facility – National Association of Counties (NaCo).
- DPCC provided Donka a rent-free computer lab with space for 14 computer workstations. Including 9 stations for physically disabled, 3 for blind and visually impaired, and 2 Macintoshes. Second part-time instructor and fundraiser added to the staff.
Seven Donka graduates start a company called CATS – Computer Activated Transactions. They are residents of the DuPage Care Center, they provided services such as billing statements, invoicing, and mail orders for companies like American Computer Inc. and Ride-Safe.
- Plans are in place at DPCC for the east wing where Donka will have an even larger computer lab or 1500 square feet. The new space accommodates 20 computer workstations.
- Founder Don Van Haveren “passes away “in June 1993.
- The State of Illinois Senate adopts a Senate Resolution No. 617 to honor Don Van Haveren in recognition of founding Donka, a computer training program for individuals with physical and visual disabilities.
- New lab facility opens in the east wing of DPCC with office space, storage space for the network server and space for 20 workstations.
- President Bill Clinton congratulates Donka on the nominations of our instructors and volunteers for the Golden Rule Awards.
- Donka has its first job placement intern from Northern Illinois University who assisted 6 Donka graduates in job counseling and job placement internships. The intern developed a vocational curriculum for Donka to use in the future.
- Donka celebrates 100 graduates.
- Walter Bell, a Donka volunteer. received the JC Penney Golden Rule Award for the Outstanding Volunteer service award, in the youth category, for his outstanding service to Donka.
- Donka celebrates 10-year Anniversary at the Drury Lane with over 120 supporters and students/graduates attending.
- Governor Jim Edgar congratulates Donka on its 10th anniversary to recognize Donka’s dedication and service in helping many individuals with physical and visual disabilities to learn computer skills.
Donka hires its first full-time instructor and a part-time job placement coordinator. Donka begins a business advisory board to further strengthen the role of employing Donka graduates.
- Donka begins in-service seminars in assistive technology for area employers, rehabilitation counselors, and teachers.
- Board Member Marc Grobe awarded Citizen Initiative Award from Ralph Nader the Citizen Advocacy Center of Elmhurst.
- Donka begins a College of DuPage Scholarship program with dedicated funding from the Wheaton AM Rotary. Three students entered College of DuPage and all plan to graduate with degrees.
- Donka is featured on ABC News with Karen Meyer.
- Donna Corson, Donka instructor, receives the 2000 Advocate of the Year Award from the DuPage Center of Independent Living. Donna educated children about guide dogs, works at Donka, advocates on transportation for persons with disabilities and facilitates a visually impaired study group.
- 2000-2004 Donka works with a job placement specialist to help Donka graduates obtain employment. Through the Wheaton AM Rotary Scholarship funds, each year 3-6 Donka graduates gain employment and 2-3 go to college.
- A new millennium and Donka debuts its web site and first satellite training center in Aurora.
- Donka receives a $50,000 award from the Illinois First grant to purchase new computers and assistive technology.
- Donka celebrates 15 years of service and graduating over 250 persons.
Donka takes a new direction and hires a Mobile Instructor and Assistive technology Trainer to provide more training to persons with disabilities and develop a train the trainer program for professionals.
Instructor Rick Schopp awarded Individual Leadership Award Honorable Mention by the River Valley Workforce Investment Board.
Donka goes platinum and celebrates its 20-year anniversary with over 150 in attendance.
Benedictine collaboration – Mobile AT instructor begins working with the special education department at Benedictine University to offer AT workshops at Donka for pre-service education/special education majors.
- Joyride with Jon begins. This special fundraiser, started by a group of Wheaton High School alumni who attended school with Jon, raised over $7,000 per year from 2010-2013.
- Governor Quinn appoints Leanne Stavenger-Vos as Member of the State Rehabilitation Council for a 3-year term.
Donka received a $79,000 – 3-year grant from the Coleman Foundation to provide assistive technology training to professionals working in agencies that serve persons with disabilities and to support the Benedictine train the trainer workshops.
Donka celebrates 25 years of service and graduating more than 630 students in as many years. Senator Tom Johnson presented a proclamation from the 97th State of Illinois at the open house celebration at Donka with over 125 in attendance.
Donka Board President, Joyce Van Der Molen, receives the West Suburban Philanthropic Network’s 2014 Philanthropic Leadership Award.
Donka begins a job readiness curriculum to teach students the computer and soft skills they will need for the workplace upon graduation.
- Donka celebrates 30 years of service and over 850 that gained the ability to achieve their life goals.
Donka, Inc. is approved to operate by the Private Business and Vocational Schools Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
Donka, Inc. is not accredited by a US Department of Education recognized accrediting body.
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We were approved by the IBHE in April of 2018 to offer a Basic Computer Course with AT – it is approved by the IBHE for Donka to operate as a Private Business Vocational school in Illinois.