Naperville adult care center seeks donations to stay open
They come because they're at risk of falling, they have dementia, their family members can't take off work to care for them or their spouse needs a break.
They come because they have Down syndrome or a mental health condition or nowhere else to go.
They come to Ecumenical Adult Care of Naperville up to five days a week, nine hours a day -- and Executive Director Laura Milligan is doing everything she can to keep it that way.
The care center is pulling out all the stops in a request for funding to keep its doors open despite a reserve account that's almost empty and cash on hand to last only about two months.
"The state owes us a huge sum of money," Milligan said about a $40,000 backlog from the past 18 months. "We have no idea when they will pay us."
The center is seeking $60,000 to rebuild its reserves and ensure it will be able to care for adults who need a place to stay during the day with exercise, medical help, music, games, lunch and socialization.
At 305 W. Jackson Ave., inside the Naperville Park District's Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center, the care center hosts 15 adults ages 45 to 96, providing a needed comfort to their caregivers.
"They can't live without it," she said about the relatives who care for the center's 15 participants. "We have people that say, 'I couldn't work if you wouldn't take my mother during the day.'"
It costs Ecumenical Adult Care about $25 a day per person to provide a registered nurse on site, an activity planner, hands-on activity assistants, a catered meal and supplies to make crafts and play games. Operational costs add up to roughly $10,000 a month.
Milligan and her staff of 14 others are owed $9.02 a day from the state for participants who are low-income. The center applies for grants and charges a $77 daily fee for families that can afford it to make up the difference.
Since state payments stopped coming a year and a half ago, Milligan said she's put out roughly a dozen more grant applications and nearly depleted the center's reserve fund.
At least one grant -- $5,000 from the city of Naperville's social services program -- is on its way. But the money isn't expected until June, and Milligan projects the center's funding will run out well before then. So last week she began reaching out to churches -- especially the multidenominational group that formed the center more than 30 years ago -- as well as service and social clubs, companies and individual donors, seeking a boost to make ends meet for the next several months.
"In that time, we want to build up our reserves again," she said, "to stay open longer."
Some of the center's 100 volunteers have been reaching out on social media including Facebook and Caregiver Harbor, and this week Milligan started a GoFundMe page to track progress toward the $60,000 goal. As of Friday afternoon, the page recorded $895, while Milligan said another roughly $4,000 has come in through other means.
As one of so many social service agencies struggling in the wake of state budget problems and payment delays, Milligan said she knows her center's plight is not unique.
But the adults the facility serves are. Many but not all of them have dementia, reminding Milligan of the elderly relatives she never shied away from as a child.
"I spent time sitting with them and helping take care of them. I wasn't afraid of them like some of the other cousins and kids in my family," she said. "I always had a soft spot for the elders."
She's hoping fresh donations will allow her to continue her work of caring for adults in their golden years.
"It's been my life's calling to do this," she said.