Lester: With state funds dwindling, a diaper ministry steps up

While Illinois' budget impasse has blunted social services' reach, babies from needy families are still going through diapers at the same rate as before - up to 12 a day per newborn and 10 a day per toddler.

So the Gurnee-based nonprofit Twice as Nice Mother and Child has stepped up to fill the gap, distributing a record 101,900 free diapers to needy families in 2016, founder Anne Marie Mathis tells me. Mathis, a mother of six, founded the organization in her Wadsworth basement in 2009 after realizing other mothers weren't able to buy supplies as she was.

Now, organizations like ChildServ, which has offices in Elgin, Waukegan and Naperville, are more dependent on diaper donations than ever.

“Any time we can get direct care items and donations it's a huge help,” said Dan Kotowski, ChildServ president and CEO and a former Democratic state lawmaker from Park Ridge.

<h3 class="leadin">Increasing need

Food stamps don't cover diapers, says Mathis, whose organization distributes diapers through 30 service providers and directly to families. Every child is allotted 100 diapers per month. About 150 to 250 families at a time receive help.

Twice as Nice is holding a fundraiser March 25 at North Shore Distillery, 13990 W. Rockland Road in Green Oaks. Tickets are $65; visit

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David Orr

Voting valentines

We received a voting-themed valentine from Cook County Clerk David Orr's office that was aimed at getting the word out about the April 4 municipal election. While Orr's office notes $6.7 billion was spent by suburban schools and governments last year, only 19 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2015 municipal election. All timely sentiments - but ones that came with a cost, we noticed. Turning over the glittery, heart shaped box that came filled with chocolates, business cards and a press kit, I noticed a price tag: $5.99 for the box itself.

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  Elgin High School teacher Deb Perryman has been downloading research on climate change from federal websites. Now, she says, others are offering to help. Rick West/

Perryman gets offers for help

You read here that Elgin High School science teacher Deb Perryman has been staying up late at night to download climate change research from federal agencies' websites because she fears the documents will be removed under President Donald Trump's administration. Since then, Perryman, a former Environmental Educator of the Year, says she's had offers from a few people to help her archive the research. News agencies have reported on efforts around the country to save information from the federal websites.

<h3 class="leadin">A heads-up

At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, I'll be moderating the third and final panel in a series on education funding hosted by the Illinois Humanities Council. The discussion at South Elgin High School, 760 E. Main St., will cover the impact of poverty on public education and will feature a keynote by Northwestern University Professor Jonathan Guryan.

Other forums are scheduled for Chicago, moderated by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington, and downstate Illinois. Check out for more information.

<h3 class="leadin">Democrats enlist Rauner

Following word of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's visit to the Daily Herald editorial board, where he warned an immediate repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act would put Illinois in a tough spot, Illinois Democratic members of Congress wrote a joint letter asking the governor to fight a repeal.

“We appreciate your recent comments noting how difficult repeal would be for the state of Illinois,” the letter read.

“We share your concerns that repealing the ACA would result in a loss of up to $13.1 billion in economic activity for the state and the potential loss of up to 95,000 jobs in Illinois.”

Rauner told the newspaper he'd use his connections with members of President Donald Trump's administration to fight such a move.

<h3 class="leadin">Well, this is fun

Local historian and author Dan Anderson will address the Glen Ellyn History Center early next month about the village's history of prostitution and brothels.

After famed Madam Emily Rieck's brothel was closed in Chicago at the end of the 19th century, she re-established her business in Glen Ellyn.

Her wealthy Chicago patrons followed.

Those patrons, historical society officials noted in a news release, “discovered the village's charms, and some even moved their families to this peaceful little village of the west.”

Tickets for the 2 p.m. March 11 event are $5 and will be available at the door of the Glen Ellyn History Center, 800 N. Main St.

Call (630) 469-1867 for more information.

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