McHENRY – The parenting classes were getting so hard to schedule – finding a place that was centrally located, private and available at the time they needed – that there were talks about killing the program.
But after the Diaper Bank of Northern Illinois found a new permanent home, the classes are off on a "booming start," said the nonprofit's director, the Rev. Phyllis Mueller.
The Diaper Bank's new location at 4138 W. Orleans St. in McHenry was provided by an anonymous donor and gives the group more warehousing space to hold the diapers it collects, office space and a place to hold its meetings and classes. Carpeting for the office space had been donated by Kenny's Flooring and others are working to gather office supplies, desks and a boardroom table.
"Not only is it a big space, it goes higher up," Mueller said. "The ceiling is very high so we can store up, not just out. It's a very new, clean, efficient space that will really allow us a professional future."
The move was forced by the sale of the nonprofit's previous home in the back of the former Eckel’s McHenry Flea Market at Route 120 and Third Street.
The diaper bank, which was started in 2009 by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in McHenry, coordinates with 15 area agencies to distribute 250,000 diapers a year to low-income families, seniors and disabled children and adults.
"We had to look for another space in less than 60 days," Mueller said. "We all just started screaming, begging, hoping, praying that someone would step forward and help us. We really had no ideas. We were just visualizing having our diapers out in the streets."
It also offers classes run by a registered nurse and social worker that serves as a mentoring program and covers nutrition for mother and child, self care, baby wellness and where families can go for assistance in the county.
The challenges that came with scheduling those classes, which met about once a week over six weeks, often limited attendance to about six or seven people per class, but a recent class turned out 17 parents and about the same number of children, Mueller said.
The Diaper Bank plans on continuing the classes at its new location and at the Garden Quarter Neighborhood Resource Center, she said.