The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 14, 2013

Laura Lee’s financial situation improves

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Donations have begun to flow in following a public meeting by Laura Lee Fellowship House officials last week.

The facility invited the public to a meeting late last week opening the floor for any and all suggestions for a long-term solution to recent money problems.

The result, according to Laura Lee executive director Alice Payne, has been an outpouring of donations from residents.

“Sometimes you just have to get the word out,” she said. “A lot of people then will step up to the plate.”

Many people have. Prior to the meeting, Payne had estimated the Laura Lee Fellowship House needed about $20,000 to give the center “some breathing room” and put it on solid ground.

In the days the meeting, donations coming into the fellowship house have covered about half of the $20,000 with more funds still coming.

“This is just he beginning,” she said. “We can always use more. We want people to continue to support us.”

As part of the donations, schools in Danville District 118 are planning to have a Jeans Day next week, with all of the proceeds raised to go to the Laura Lee Fellowship House, Payne said.

The fellowship home located at 212 E. Williams St. has been open in Danville since 1944, offering a variety of programs.

Payne — who became executive director in March 2012 — said previously it has been getting more and more difficult to find funds for the center.

As a long-time part of the United Way, the Laura Lee Fellowship House has received annual assistance from the local United Way chapter for a number of years. But in the last 10 years, Payne said that total has dropped $10,000, leaving a gap in the funding.

The center received $50,000 from the United Way for this year.

In addition to the outpouring of monetary support, Payne said several ideas also have emerged as a result of the meeting — which saw a standing-room only crowd.

She said no decisions have been made at this point, but the facility is looking at possibly hooking up with a nationwide organization to act as a “sustaining partner,” Payne said.

Current work also includes finding other additional grants for which Laura Lee Fellowship House can apply. Payne said individuals have stepped up to volunteer in helping find new grant funds for the house.