Clients give thumbs-up to Centro's new digs in Elgin
When the new location of Centro de Informacion in the west side of Elgin opened to the public at 9 a.m. Monday, there was an atypical lack of people waiting to get in the door.
"We were worried at first," Executive Director Jaime Garcia said, not entirely jokingly. But normalcy at 1885 Lin Lor Lane began to settle in when the first client walked in about an hour later. The waiting room was bustling by noon.
Client Mario Cabrera of Lake in the Hills said he liked the new space, although he had difficulty finding it using Google Maps. "Now that we know it's here, it's good," said his companion, Vianey Tello.
Vicente Lopez, who accompanied his wife to an appointment, also said he liked the new digs, even if the nonprofit's former downtown location was much closer to his house.
There are two bus stops nearby along Pace Bus route 548. Garcia said he's working with Pace to add a stop in front of Centro.
Centro closed its downtown office Feb. 14 after the building was put up for sale. Its new building on the Presence St. Joseph Hospital campus used to house a nunnery and most recently the hospital's accounting department.
The new 7,200-square-foot space is larger than the old offices but lacks a basement, so storage is an issue, Garcia said. One solution might be to electronically scan old client files, he said.
Centro's 11 staff members each have their own office, including parent educator Helen Lopez Strom, who used to have a cubicle. "It's nice for the privacy of the clients," she said.
Assistant Director Cheryl Wilkins said she misses the downtown location but is happy with the new one. "The space works so well. We have two conference rooms, three rooms for our emergency pantry, a yard, a big parking lot with disabled (spaces) right by the door," she said. "It's a step up for Centro."
Centro received donated board room furniture from the former Elgin office of Neighborhood Housing Services, and a refrigerator and freezer from Northern Illinois Food Bank, Garcia said.