Batavia daycare program helped through St. Charles church grant

CHIP IN Batavia Co-Chair Melinda Kintz spoke before the Bethlehem Lutheran Church congregation during a service on April 21, 2024, in St. Charles.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Charles distributed more than $25,000 in grants between nine Kane County nonprofit organizations in December 2023 as part of its new Expansive Church Grant opportunity.

Since awarding the grants, several recipients have come to services at the church to give “Temple Talks” where they talk about their organization, how the grant funds were used and express their gratitude to the congregation.

One of those recipients was CHIP IN Batavia, which received $3,000. CHIP IN (Community Helpers Impacting People In Need) is a 100% volunteer organization established in 2013 to support homeless and low-income families in Batavia School District 101 by providing services the district can’t.

CHIP IN co-chair Melinda Kintz spoke at a service in April. Kintz told church members that the grant allowed them to support three families through their new, before- and after-school scholarship program.

Before-school care in Batavia costs more than $3,000 a year. CHIP IN will give funds to the Batavia Park District Kids Club to provide day care for the students at their respective schools, allowing them to be with their classmates before or after the school day.

While the before- and after-school scholarship is only for students younger than 13, CHIP IN has several other programs that support students and families from early childhood through high school. Some of their programs include college and laptop scholarships, providing families with clothing, furniture and rent assistance and sponsoring field trips, prom clothing and more.

To qualify for assistance from CHIP IN, parents must be working full-time or going to school, live in Batavia School District 101 and have children in school who qualify for the state’s free and reduced lunch program. Families apply for CHIP IN’s assistance through their school’s community outreach program.

Since 2020, CHIP IN has provided 148 rent assistance checks to families. Kintz said Batavia School District 101 this year has 106 homeless students, up from 73 last year.

Kintz said through their scholarship programs they aim to ease parents’ financial burdens and allow them to keep their jobs by sponsoring day care and other services. She said 90% of the families they help have single mothers and by supporting their children’s day care or providing their school supplies, it is just one less thing they have to worry about and keeps them moving in the right direction.

One of the families that CHIP IN will be able to support thanks to the church grant is a single mother with three children. Kintz said because the mother works a factory job from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, her two elementary school children have to attend before-school care.

“We’re certainly happy that [Bethlehem Lutheran] started the program,” Kintz said. “It opens naive eyes about the number of homeless people and brings awareness to a multitude of issues for Bethlehem. We’re certainly proud of them for taking the initiative to move forward with such a valuable program. They’re very, very ambitious and we need that right now and we appreciate it.”

Bethlehem Lutheran will continue the grant program this year and hopes to raise even more money for nonprofit organizations that benefit the community. Kintz said CHIP IN plans to apply for the grant again this fall.

Joel Mulder was one of the committee members who reviewed the expansive church grant applications and selected the recipients. He said the church has had an overwhelmingly positive response to the grant recipients and their stories of how the funding will be used to help the community.

”The Temple Talks that have been given have been heartwarming,” Mulder said. “You don’t realize the need we have right here until you listen to these folks.”