A veterans facility on Oak Park Avenue that will house veterans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is scheduled to open in January 2017, at least six months later than originally planned after being caught in the budget crossfire between Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly.
At Casa Central in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, Amanda McMillen, deputy director of children and youth services, said she hasn’t stopped smiling since learning that the social service agency was one of 23 area charities picked to receive proceeds from [basketball legend Michael Jordan’s] settlement with the Jewel-Osco and Dominick’s grocery chains. […]
Understandably, that’s all an afterthought to the busy staff at Casa Central, where some programs have been shuttered since Gov. Bruce Rauner imposed budget cuts last spring. Its early learning academy had to stop accepting new children under 5 because of cuts. A computer lab for low-income children and adults in the community has been closed except for use by students in the after-school program.
Jordan’s donation won’t resurrect those programs. That’s still on the state of Illinois, as it should be. But his money will go a long way to boosting kids’ programs at Casa Central, where administrators are still determining how to allocate the funds. There were two conditions to the donation, La Luz said in response to questions about it. The amount must remain confidential and the money must be earmarked for kids.
There is no shortage of kids’ programs among Casa Central’s seven buildings, including three that take up nearly a city block on North California Avenue. La Luz said the center is one of the largest Hispanic social-service agencies in the Midwest and serves 19,000 to 20,000 children and adult residents a year.
It provides transitional apartment-style housing and social services for homeless families, offers vocational training for entry-level jobs and houses a senior-care center visited daily by 80 to 90 older adults. But staff members pride themselves in providing a second a home to neighborhood kids, administrators said.