History & Timeline

1959

1959

The nonprofit corporation was originally founded as Specialized Services, Inc., (now Challenge Unlimited) formed by concerned parents of children with disabilities. The parents wanted their adult children to participate in some form of productive activity and hopefully gain vocational experiences that would lead to employment.

1960

1960s

Specialized Services, Inc., opened its doors to provide services to six individuals. It was initially funded by contributions from parents, concerned citizens, and local businesses. With a growing need, Specialized Services secured a grant from the Department of Mental Health and grew rapidly to 50 participants. A new building was purchased to provide additional services to individuals with disabilities.


The agency began providing production services as a subcontracted business solution for local companies. Individuals with a disability were able to work according to each person’s abilities under a special minimum wage certificate.


Tom Moehn is hired as President and CEO with a vision for community integration

1970

1970s

Specialized Services, Inc., with a renewed vision to develop human potential through work related opportunities grows to become a social enterprise with the expansion of its production services and the launch of the custodial services line of business employing individuals with disabilities.

1980

1980s

Residential Services of Madison County, an Affiliate Organization, was formed with a single group home. The State of Illinois requested that the agency take over a large residential facility in Troy, IL. That facility was downsized and ICF-DD and CILA homes were built to provide 12 homes for approximately 100 residents. This company is now known as Residential Options, Inc.


Through a partnership with NISH, the company expanded its social business model to provide Facility Management Services to the Federal Government. The first contract was at Scott Air Force Base.

1990

1990s

Specialized Services rebrands and becomes Challenge Unlimited, Inc.


Alpha Industries was formed as an affiliate organization of Challenge Unlimited. The nonprofit organization was created to broaden production service contracts while creating work related opportunities for individuals with economic, cognitive, social and educational disadvantages.

2000

2000s

President & CEO, Tom Moehn, retires after 46 years of service impacting thousands of lives.


Challenge Unlimited hires Charlotte Hammond as President and CEO to further expand and increase the footprint for inclusion and integration in the community for people with a disability.