News - Joliet and Will County

Guardian Angel services moving from landmark Joliet building

JOLIET – Guardian Angel Community Services will move from its landmark location.

The brick building at Plainfield Road and Theodore Street, a former orphanage known locally as the Guardian Angel Home, has been acquired by the University of St. Francis, which plans to put its nursing college there.

The Joliet Franciscan order of nuns started Guardian Angel in 1897 and moved what was then an orphanage into the present location in 1925 and continued to own the building. The order also started the University of St. Francis in 1920.

The University of St. Francis board trustees approved the purchase Thursday, and it was announced Friday.

Sister Dolores Zemont, president of Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, said it is a good time for Guardian Angel to find another home because the large, old building had become difficult to maintain. She described the move as good for everyone involved.

“We needed to sell the building, and the university was willing to buy it for their program so Guardian Angel Community Services needed to move,” she said. “It’s a win-win-win for all three institutions, so we’re all pleased with the various moves.”

Guardian Angel plans to move this summer to 168 N. Ottawa St. in downtown Joliet, and USF, which will renovate the existing building, is set to move its nursing college to the building in fall 2016.

The Guardian Angel building will become the new home for the Cecily and John Leach College of Nursing. The nursing program needs more space, said Nancy Pohlman, the university’s executive director of community relations.

“We have a general need for space as well,” she said. “Certainly expanding our nursing college is very exciting for us.”

The move is a historic one for everyone involved, said Ines Kutlesa, chief executive officer for Guardian Angel Community Services. The new location will meet the needs of the organization, she said, which annually serves almost 30,000 people.

“We’re excited to continue on our mission to help people improve the quality of their lives, and all of our operations will continue,” Kutlesa said.

Not included in the university’s purchase was the Franciscan Learning Center, which is not associated with Guardian Angel Community Services but is sponsored by Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate. The center will remain at Plainfield and Theodore.

Guardian Angel Community Services provides residential treatment and shelter care, along with other community-based services for children and families. It is the oldest nonprofit in Will County and was an orphanage until the early 1970s. In 1973, the agency became a licensed child welfare agency. It was renamed Guardian Angel Community Services in 2005.

According to a letter from Kutlesa, the move will come with significant costs, with furnishings, equipment, appliances and other items estimated to cost about $60,000. Agency officials are asking for contributions to cover the expenses.

For every $100 pledged, people will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a half-carat diamond in the cut of their choice from David Nelson Exquisite Jewelers in Joliet. The drawing will take place and winners contacted April 19.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News