Today was a bitter sweet day for me; the realization of hard work in a bi-partisan fashion, while at the same time the realization that one of our oldest social service agencies will be closing its doors.
For 117 years, the Larkin Center has been a place of stability for at-risk youth. A safe haven for youth, a place of support for adults. Unfortunately, this longstanding institution was not immune to the financial hardships facing social service agencies up and down the Fox River. Last week, they closed their doors.
This was a sad day for Elgin. Children and adults alike were suddenly placed in a point of uncertainty. I was approached by the members of the Larkin Board and asked to assist in the transition. The request was made for $20,000 from the Grand Victoria Riverboat Grant funds to cover the operational expenses associated with the transition process. I agreed to move the issue forward with fellow Commissioner Cristina Castro and we immediately contacted our colleagues to put the process into motion. Chairman Lauzen called the special meeting of the Board so that we could accommodate the tight time frame we were dealt. I thank him for his recognition of how important this matter was to our constituents.
Over the weekend, I spent time calling colleagues, Larkin Center Board members and representatives of labor. After many hours on my cellphone, we had all parties involved in agreement. Not surprising, every Board member we spoke to pledged their support. With the surprising exception of one member from Elgin who oddly chose to vote "present," the Board unanimously and enthusiastically supported the grant.
I would like to thank everyone who voted in favor of this grant. Because of the Board's actions, we were able to help fund a smooth transition that allowed many of the staff members to find new employment and many of the Larkin Center's clients finding new service providers. We were able to assist in keeping at-risk youth within their safe homes, and assist adults who suffer from mental disorders in finding new treatment. We were able to take a terrible situation, and make it better... without spending a single penny of tax payer funds.
While I am proud of the Board's ability to come together for the common good of a community, I only wish that we could have done more to prevent the Larkin Center from closing its doors.
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