The UniPres Kindercottage Board of Directors expresses our deep thanks to the Illinois South Conference United Church of Christ, the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, our many supporters in churches and in our communities, and especially the congregation of St. Paul UCC in Belleville for their extravagant hospitality and the St. Paul UCC Culinaires for the generous donation of the their time and talent to make our first “Night at the Improv” fundraiser a terrific success. 

Those attending were excited to compliment the entertainment and the food and refreshments.  “A great night for all ages.” “What a fun night—and the kids loved it.  It’s nice to have something like this the whole family can attend.”  “I hope you are going to do this again next year!”  “Where did you find that group (The Paper Slips Theater)? They were fantastic!”  “We usually have someone disappointed by the menu at these events but not this time!  You all really hit the ball out of the park!”

The highlight of the evening was, of course, when the ISCUCC Designated Conference Minister Rev. Shana Johnson and ISCUCC Conference Council Member Rev. Robert Goddard announced the donation of $100,000 to Kindercottage to pay off the mortgage.  The gift comes from the Marion Mittendorf bequest left to the Conference with the instructions to use the funds to serve children and families in need after natural disasters and those who were struggling with financial hardship.  The monies were to be directed to those missions and ministries with the greatest immediate need.  The Conference Council, after researching the intentions of the Mittendorf family and prayerful discernment, directed a portion of the funds to the payoff of the UniPres Kindercottage mortgage.

The mortgage payoff will free the early childhood center from a $2,900 monthly obligation.  After losing an average of $4,200 each month for the past 6 months, reducing the monthly bills by $2,900 will greatly ease the financial stress Kindercottage is under.  “It doesn’t put us in the black, by any means.  With the state budget, or lack of a budget, we are still, along with so many others in Illinois, under a cloud of uncertainty.  We do have the certainty, however, that we are doing God’s work, we are the image of Christ’s Body and an island of hope in a sea of poverty, “said the Rev. Nancy Spier-Lee, chair of the UPK Board of Directors.  “And we have the certainty of support from our many church and individual donors that lifts our spirits and keeps our doors open.  We are so thankful and so blessed.”

The generosity that made the evening a success began with Ed Reggi and the Paper Slips Theater Players when in the earliest of planning stages learned about the work Kindercottage was doing and they cut their usual performance fee to help us make the evening even possible.  Then St. Paul UCC in Belleville provided their Community Center free of charge and the Culinaires caterers donated their time and talent for the evening, and provided the food at a fraction of the usual catering fee.

With our sponsors, donors to the silent auction and donations specifically for the Hearing (Audiology) Screenings, Kindercottage was able to net $8,018.36 for the evening.  For those keeping track, those net proceeds will fund our hearing screenings and provide the revenue to cover 5 months of losses. 

Put another way, we will keep about 25 young parents in school learning skills or earning degrees that will put them into a better position to care for their family and allow them to know their child is more than cared for, is nurtured and loved, while in daycare.  We will help another 25 families juggle 2 or 3 part time jobs, at or slightly above minimum wage, to support their families.  We will help a dozen young families ease the stress of having to work 3 jobs between them, finish school and care for their child, giving them a chance to build a stronger marriage and a foundation for their future together.  We will mentor a dozen young women who never learned healthy parenting skills, good nutrition or emotionally and spiritually nurturing habits develop those skills with the encouragement of teachers and the quiet, steady inspiration of our “grandmas.”

Keeping our doors open translates to keeping hope alive in a tangible, visible and supportive community.

We also want to thank the members of First Presbyterian Church in Edwardsville for providing table cloths and other support for the evening, Helen and Bill Whicher for their generous support for the event and all the work they do to support Kindercottage, and St. Paul UCC, Columbia, IL for their major sponsorship gift to make the event possible.  The staff at Kindercottage also provided countless hours of volunteer help in the weeks leading up to the event and the day of it.  And the “High Schoolers” class at Kindercottage made the microphone table decorations.

Thank you to everyone who helped, sponsored and attended the event.  We are making plans for next year already!