After helping victims of domestic violence for about 15 years, Rebecca Darr is now on the front lines of expanding WINGS, or Women in Need Growing Stronger, into Chicago as well as nationwide.
The executive director of the domestic violence advocacy group, which has operations in Palatine and Rolling Meadows, is working with Chicago's Metropolitan Family Services and the Greater Southwest Development Corp. to build a 40-bed shelter on the city's south side. But her eye remains on the long term.
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"We're in the middle of a five-year plan to go national," Darr said. "We want to identify other survivors who want to give back and help others in each city."
While the national program may become more real in 2016 or 2017, Darr continues to keep all of it in perspective, while the Chicago facility remains on target to open this summer.
The city had obtained a $1.8 million legal settlement regarding a gentlemen's club and will be using much of that money for the construction of the shelter, she said. Fundraising efforts, donations and applications for grants also aim to help fund the project, which could cost around $5 million, Darr added.
The facility, which will have about 40 beds, will accommodate commercial space on the first floor, which can help draw more income to help support their programs, she said. Plans call for a resale shop, similar to the ones located in Schaumburg, Palatine and Niles, as well as a coffee shop.
The facility will have suites to accommodate larger families, picnic and playground areas, all in a unlisted location to help the families stay safe, she said.
"Chicago was on our list for some day and some day is today," Darr said.
While the city gets about 500 calls a day from troubled families, a 40-bed facility may seem like a drop in the bucket, she said. But it's a start in the right direction.
And while the problem of domestic abuse continues, Darr doesn't feel overwhelmed. Instead, she continues the work because "it only takes one family to move away and later become successful" that makes it all worthwhile.
"It takes a lot for these women to talk about how they were torn up physically and mentally and how they can then talk about how this has changed their lives and how it's changed the lives of their children. That's what makes it all worthwhile. Ultimately, our goal is to put ourselves out of business."
Heading back to D.C.
Greg Brown, CEO of Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, will traveling in coming weeks to Washington, D.C. again to meet with President Obama as they continue their work with the committee on immigration reform. And speaking of traveling, Mark Hacker, Motorola Solutions' general counsel, will be among the executives from 17 companies participating in a trade mission to Mexico City on Feb. 3-5. He'll be joining U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on her first trade mission.
Hot CEO opens more stores
Glenview native Megan Tamte, founder and CEO of Hot Mama, said a store will open in the Southport Corridor location in Chicago on Feb. 6. It's the eighth location in Illinois, but the first in Chicago. The company was founded in 2004 and caters to mothers, primarily over 40, who want to look trendy. The company now has 42 stores in 15 states. Tamte now lives in Edina, Minn.
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Billy Teaford of Fincastle, Va., is the winner of the 2013 Electrician of the Year contest by Klein Tools in Lincolnshire. ... Evanston resident John Paul Graziano is now a producer at Aon Risk Solutions, the global risk management business of Aon.
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