Turning Point hoping to raise $1M over three years to help domestic abuse victims

WOODSTOCK – Turning Point of McHenry County has created a fund to help offset the costs of running its emergency shelter for abused women and children.

Officials hope to raise $1 million over the next three years for the Cecelia Fund, named after the first woman to use the Woodstock-based shelter, as dwindling revenue streams continue to strain the nonprofit agency’s budget.

“This will be the first year that we have to dip into reserves to run the shelter,” said Jane Farmer, executive director of the organization. “The state is a mess, and we can’t wait any longer for them to figure it out. We as a community need to come together to ensure this shelter is here for the people who need it.”

The shelter for victims of domestic abuse opened in 2007, due in large part to community donations. The facility originally was supposed to open in March 2004, but financial problems held up the project.

The building includes rooms with beds for 21 women and children. Donated items help furnish the facility.

A handful of staff members keep the shelter – which includes surveillance cameras, bulletproof glass, a direct phone line to the police and double-locked entry doors – open 24 hours a day.

To date, 372 women and 347 children have spent a total of 25,687 nights in the shelter, Farmer said. It costs about $300,000 annually to operate the facility.

“We are the only organization in the county that can handle this type of crisis,” Farmer said. “We are providing refuge and a safe place to women and children who have made the decision to leave a troubled life.”

The fund already includes $400,000 thanks to separate $200,000 pledges from Vince Foglia and Mike and Judy Luecht.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for these types of issues,” said Foglia, who also contributes to another charity that provides support to abused women and children. “I like to do my part to help ease the kind of pain and suffering these people go through.”

The Luecht family, of Lake in the Hills, donated $1 million to the MCC Promise scholarship program in 2008. They also donated the last $180,000 Turning Point needed to open the shelter in 2007.

“Turning Point plays such a critical role in McHenry County,” Mike Luecht said. “To have the shelter open is one thing, but for it to have the ability to stay open for years by having the expenses covered is critical.”

To donate, call 815-338-8081 or visit www.mchenrycountyturningpoint.org.

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