Will County’s 100 Women Who Care supports District 90′s Taft Foundation

Lockport — The Will County Chapter of 100 Women Who Care met on Feb. 13 to select the next recipient of its quarterly donations.

While the organization always chooses organizations with a local presence in Will County, this month its beneficiary is hyper local with donations going to support the Taft Foundation, the non-profit established in 2010 to provide additional funding for Taft Elementary School District 90 in Lockport.

The district is small, only supporting one pre-K through eighth grade school with boundaries of less than 1.5 square miles, which 100 Women Who Cares Will County founder Maribeth Carlson notes, “limits the funds and financial support coming into the school from local businesses and corporations.”

The foundation was established to prevent the lack of funding from inhibiting students’ educational opportunities at the school and help maintain the aging school building.

While 100 Women Who Care was still collecting its final donation checks as of Feb. 16, Carlson said the donation was estimated to total $6,900 after submitting the group’s collection to the Schulze Family Foundation, which will match up to 50 percent of the collection.

“We were so excited to receive this donation,” said Taft Foundation Director Christine Jelinek. “One of our members, Kristina Miczek, her mom is part of 100 Women. We were fortunate that she was called on to present for us and that they picked us. We only have nine dedicated members in our foundation, so it usually takes us a lot of work to get that kind of money, and it comes in slowly.”

Jelinek said the foundation has several projects they are working on funding, which could all benefit from the influx of funding.

The school’s auditorium, which it uses for an annual musical production funded by the foundation, was built in 1939 and is in need of new lighting. The Junior High STEM club consistently needs additional supplies.

The school is exploring possibilities to introduce an art program for students at the school, which would need funding. Currently, the school offers music classes to students, but has no dedicated art curriculum.

The funding could go to extending a pilot program through Crayola for kindergarten through fifth grade students, which the school is currently running into next school year.

Finally, after purchasing new equipment for the school’s playground, the foundation encountered an unexpected expense for having the old equipment hauled away, something they had believed they could get for free.

“The amount of work and manhours it takes for us to do some of these things is so high,” Jelinek said. “To be told we were getting over $6,000 in one night, just given to us? Our jaws were on the floor. We are so grateful.

“We have challenges financially with such an old, small school, which is why we started to the foundation to level the playing field,” Jelinek said. “There are only 285 students at Taft right now, so our funding pool is getting smaller and smaller.”

100 Women Who Care, meets four times per year for one hour and selects a non-profit in Will County which all the members agree to donate at least $100 to. The group will next meet on Tuesday, April 9 at Coom’s Corner in Lockport.