Festive atmosphere as Willow Creek reopens Care Center
The petting zoo, the baseball hitting tee, and the classic cars display are standard fare for summer events.
But on a sunny Sunday at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, they also were symbols of a return to full in-person operation for its Care Center ministry.
The center helps individuals and families in need, with services ranging from food and clothing assistance to help with employment and transportation.
Among those attending the grand opening was Schaumburg resident Stefanie Fillipan, who enjoyed outdoor events in the parking lot with her twin 6-year-old sons, Quinn and Logan.
"Everybody is tired of being home and wants more to do," she said. "It felt like Groundhog Day, just repeating itself over and over again."
The care center had been open on a limited basis for curbside service. But now in-person services like vision, legal and dental assistance are open once again.
"We had to shift our model. We have been serving families, (but) everything has been outside, curbside, socially distant," said Kyle Healy of West Dundee, the care center's pastor and the church's director of compassion and justice. "We have been preparing for this grand reopening for the last few months, just watching COVID numbers, watching vaccine numbers, listening to the government authorities."
The care center's 1,800 volunteers were eager to get back, he added.
Among the ministries open to the public for the open house Sunday were the clothing ministry and the C.A.R.S. (Christian Automotive Repairmen Serving) Ministry, which takes donated cars, fixes them up and gives them away to qualified recipients.
The C.A.R.S. Ministry's garage displayed several classic cars for the public.
Cary resident Jac Higgins, who has been volunteering at the C.A.R.S. ministry for 23 years, said the staff did a limited number of repairs until October, when the volunteers began trickling back.
"We still work under some rules that we didn't have before (the pandemic)," he said.