South Suburban Cook County's premier leader and connection to aging information and resources.

aka PLOWS Council on Aging   |   Palos Heights, IL   |

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To empower individuals navigating the aging life cycle with a focus on those 60 years of age and older in the South Suburbs of Chicago.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Mrs. Elaine Grande

Main address

7808 W College Dr Ste 5e

Palos Heights, IL 60463 USA

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Formerly known as




NTEE code info

(Senior Centers/Services) (P81)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Pathlights aims to address the various challenges an individual (with the focus on those 60 years of age and older) faces regarding the aging lifecycle, particularly surrounding the social determinants of health. From access to basic needs, such as: nutritional food, shelter and healthcare to safety from abuse to support surrounding caregiver issues, Pathlights works with a multitude of diverse partners to help find solutions and opportunities for the region's aging needs.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Adult Protective Services

Safety of older adults 60+ years of age and those 18-59 years of age with a disability is a priority for us and, unfortunately, all too often, abuse (intentionally or unintentionally) occurs. To address these sensitive (and sometimes life-threatening) situations, we have trained professionals administer this program through the Illinois Department on Aging. Abuse of an older adult can include: physical, sexual or emotional abuse; confinement; passive neglect; willful deprivation; or financial exploitation. Reporting a potential abuse situation is confidential and reporters can remain anonymous.

Population(s) Served

Applying for critical government-related benefits can be challenging and overwhelming. Our professionals can assist you or another qualified older adult by working with appropriate authorities and agencies. Possible services include: Medicare Savings Program, SNAP/Food Stamps, Senior Health Insurance Program, Energy Assistance, NICOR Gas Sharing, Benefits Access Program and Medicare Part D.

Population(s) Served

Being a caregiver can be so rewarding and, at the same time, complicated and lonely. Our Caregiver Specialist is available to provide consultations, assistance, information and support to those giving care to someone 60 years of age or older.

Population(s) Served

As we age, sometimes we need a plan to help age well. Our trained caseworkers go to the home of an older adult and work with everyone involved to create the best plan of care possible, which may include a combination of programs, services and resources.

Population(s) Served

When an individual is being considered for discharge from the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, they may not always be able to care for themselves. Our trained professionals work with hospital and nursing staff to determine the services that need to be in place upon discharge including resources to help people remain in their homes and alternatives such as long-term care facilities.

Population(s) Served

Thanks to the passion of highly trained, dedicated and vetted volunteers, nutritional meals are provided to the home once per day, Monday through Friday, and Saturday (when available), for qualified people 60 years of age or older who are unable to prepare their own meals due to illness or (physical/social/mental) disability.  A second meal per day is also possible, pending availability of meals.

Population(s) Served

Need assistance with personal care? Meal preparation? Light house keeping? Laundry or grocery shopping? For qualified older adults, in-home services is a great option. Skilled and vetted care workers can visit your home and assist with specific tasks for a definitive period of time to help with daily household activities.

Population(s) Served

The aging and disability environments are ever changing and there's a vast number of options available. Our team of information specialists help provide direction to anyone 60 years of age or older or under 60 with a disability. Whether you are looking for the nearest in-home care company, options counseling or an area agency on aging in another state, Pathlights helps guide you to resources and connections.

Population(s) Served

Caregiving can take a toll on an individual's life. Respite offers an opportunity to provide some relief to the primary caregiver and offer temporary care for an older adult.

Population(s) Served

Looking for affordable housing? Have an extra room in your home? Shared Housing may be a good option for you. We have 30+ years of experience in Shared Housing -- matching people that have houses, apartments or condos, with people who need an affordable place to live. Adults of all ages can participate as long as one participant is 62 years and older or has a disability. This program can offer companionship, financial security and independence. Providers and seekers are thoroughly vetted and we provide guidance on Shared Housing agreements.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Founded in 1975, Pathlights is South Suburban Cook County's premier leader and connection to aging information and resources. We are a 501(c)3 human service organization providing comprehensive community services to more than 16,000 individuals in 20 municipalities within Palos, Lemont, Orland and Worth Townships. While our programs and services are focused on those 60 years of age and older who are navigating the life cycle, we also provide specific services to people with disabilities 18+ years of age living at home.

Our vision is focused on bringing innovative opportunities and integrated solutions that help individuals maintain their health, dignity and self-worth in their community, ensuring their independence in their homes for as long as possible. Pathlights mission aims to address the following goals:

Assist older adults 60 years of age and older to achieve their maximum independence in their community; in their home;
Ensure ongoing support and professional development/training for staff, board and volunteers, in order to allow them to be more effective in their respective roles;
Connect the community with opportunities for education, information and resources related to aging;
Provide significant support to an older adult's support system so that they can be healthy, effective contributors;
Serve in our role as a provider of specific services to those 18 years of age and older as allowed through state and federal contracts;
Deliver all services with the highest level of integrity, professionalism and quality;
Become an effective partner to other stakeholders;
Contribute to and develop ongoing innovated strategies and approaches to a changing healthcare climate;
Be acknowledged locally, regionally and nationally as a leader in human services

Pathlight's strategies to create impact include:

Recruiting and retaining top quality, professional staff;
Responding to emerging trends and identified gaps in healthcare as it relates specifically to aging;
Become a convener of conversation to share and create new ideas;
Help to incubate and implement innovative approaches and strategies to better respond to aging issues;
Continually adopt best practices for effective service delivery and impact;
Serve as a partner in both support and strength for the benefit of other community stakeholders;
Listen and learn from all levels of the community;
Develop ongoing data and metrics to measure impact and service effectiveness;
Empower the community by providing education and information re: aging issues and resources;
Challenge the aging sector to think differently about approaching aging issues, starting from within PLOWS;
Increase the support base (both in-kind and financial) for aging services;
Commit 100% to our mission, vision and values

Pathlights employs more than 70 professionals to address the aging needs of our communities. Many of these individuals have been with PLOWS well over 10 years, which demonstrates Pathlights ability to retain talent and create a welcoming and inclusive working environment. All of these professionals have gone through various trainings in order to continue delivering quality services with several receiving State and region-wide recognition for their commitment. In addition to the staff, Pathlights is proud to have a diverse group of volunteer community leaders serve as directors in order to ensure fiscal oversight and accountability to the region. Pathlights is also extremely appreciative of the more than 100 volunteers who tirelessly provide incredible commitment and passion to Pathlights programs. All of the individuals mentioned above combined make team Pathlights. Finally, Pathlights is truly ineffective without the partnership and collaboration of our community stakeholders, non and for-profit alike (we cannot/should not do it all). Pathlights has embraced this philosophy since its inception.

Speaking Pathlights of longevity of serving the community for 44 years has instilled trust and affirmed transparency among all levels of the community: on macro, mezzo and micro levels, becoming the "go-to" for comprehensive aging services. Pathlights has been able to maintain a steady financial foundation, which has helped to weather (at times) challenges created through economic and political changes.

Through our team, we provide a myriad of diverse programs and services that offer a holistic and integrated approach to service:

Adult Protective Services
Advocacy & Benefits Assistance
Caregiver Support
Care Planning & Assessments
Choices for Care
Community Support Groups & Workshops
Comprehensive Care Coordination
Home-Delivered Meals
In-Home Care
Information & Assistance
Respite Services
Shared Housing

In addition to maintaining 47 years of providing quality service to the community, Pathlights has recently accomplished the following in the last two years:

Provided professional development and safety training for staff;
Improved response time for IT-related reported needs/HelpDesk;
Updated hardware for maximum efficiency;
Reconfigured office space to better accommodate operational processes;
Created a community crisis plan;
Expanded our space;
Updated policies and procedures;
Installed additional security measures for office safety;
Created a community Pathlights calendar;
Added support to our public relations/marketing efforts;
Strengthened partnerships with businesses for sponsorship and other opportunities;
Work with municipal leaders and government to better provide community service;
Use existing Pathlights data sources to determine communities with greatest need;
Update Pathlights collateral and maintain social media presence;
Surveyed clients and community members for input to be more effective as a human service provider;
Enhanced training and education for Volunteers;
Launched Volunteer Appreciation Lunch to better recognize volunteer contributions;
Provided ongoing surveys for employee input to enhance work environment;
Explored Medicare billing;
Created an annual fundraising plan;
Expanded grant-writing services;
Created additional Business partnerships;
Broadened in-hospital referrals/nursing homes;
Preparing for launch of signature fundraiser event;
Began the stages for a Comprehensive Planned Giving Program;
Hired designated HR staff member;
Recognized and support the needs and morale of our staff;
Redefined what PLOWS is and what we, as an organization are (created mission, vision and values)

In the upcoming years, Pathlights is preparing for and plans on accomplishing the following:
Launch Advisory Council;
Increase and implement additional revenue generators (i.e. choices expansion, fee-for-service options, Medicare billing, traditional fundraising strategies, etc.);
Launch Spring Event;
Create an Anniversary Committee in preparation for our 50th Anniversary (2025);
Conduct second phase of strategic plan: vision planning;
Hold an annual all-staff meeting to provide updates about the “State of Pathlights”;
Create and implement a Pathlights’ community relations and marketing plan that includes improving our digital presence (i.e. website, social media, etc.);
Enhancing our professional collateral to include materials such as an annual report;
Explore options to create a working environment that responds to the changes in healthcare; allowing us to grow into, rather grow out of.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 06/21/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Steve Sutera

Law Offices of Stephen Sutera P.C.

JoAnn Gruca

Saint Xavier University

Sam Balark


Bernadette Orr

Vicky Maytas-Smith

Southwest Conference of Mayors

Steve Pappageorge

Moraine Valley Community College

Steve Sutera

Sutera Law

Heather Jones

Village of Park Forest

Maureen Rafa

Alice Collins

Cook County Health

Jon Dawson


Meghan Moran

Oak Lawn Public Librray

Mark Smolenski

One Trust

Christine Brown

Lynn Reasonover

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/24/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/17/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.