Landlords go above & beyond
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News October 16, 2010 10:42PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
ELGIN — When Two Rivers Head Start went looking for a location for its new infant and toddler center, the site at 418 Airport Road seemed perfect.
The organization not only found a spot that had the space and accessibility for its families at River Ridge Head Start, but landlords went above and beyond to ensure the center would be finished, executive director Diane Lacey said.
Chris Barry and Jean Jodoin, partners at LifeStorage who own the former Kmart location in far-north Elgin, not only helped work through zoning issues with the city but also donated $100,000 to finish construction on the center.
Barry and Jodoin also gave $10,000 toward the opening dinner and deejay event, held Thursday night.
“They are not too bad for landlords,” Lacey said as she presented them with a plaque thanking them for their service.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to provide this for families and for people in need,” Barry said.
Two Rivers serves families and their children at 13 locations in five counties, from Belvidere to Morris, Lacey said. The River Ridge location, which opened just a month ago, will offer services to 80 children ages 6 weeks through 3; it provides four infant classrooms, six toddler classrooms, and 24 with home-based services.
There are openings at the center for additional children, Lacey said. Parents must work a minimum of 30 hours a week or go to school full-time to enroll their children in the program. Parents pay on a sliding fee scale for the services.
A Community Development Block Grant office is there to help families with short-term needs including medical and dental referrals, a food pantry and help with rent, Lacey said.
The agencies applied for and received an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant to pay for construction of the center, Lacey said. However, the grant funding ran out before the agency was able to outfit and stock its classrooms completely.
“Chris and Jean stepped forward and helped us financially,” Lacey said.
They helped not just for the tax deduction but also to give back to their community, Lacey said.
Both said they know what it is like to be considered in an at-risk family, Barry said.
“I grew up on the west side of Elgin, the son of a single mother,” Barry said. “She had two jobs. I had to go without a lot as a young kid.”
As the father of four young daughters, he also knows how important it is for children to have a good education early in life. “That is what I want for my own children,” he said.
Jodoin said he also comes from a poor family and that often it was adults who were not part of the family who helped him become the person he is now.
“For moms trying to earn a living for their kids, they need this,” Jodoin said.