First round of 2023 checks presented to nonprofits by From the Heart

At Tuesday’s weekly meeting of the Rochelle Rotary Club, From the Heart President/Founder Dave Eckhardt and Rotary President Adam Heal presented $10,000 checks to four area nonprofits from proceeds from the 2023 From the Heart gala.

$10,000 donations: ‘This is the greatest part of the whole thing’

ROCHELLE — At Tuesday’s weekly meeting of the Rochelle Rotary Club, From the Heart President/Founder Dave Eckhardt and Rotary President Adam Heal presented $10,000 checks to four area nonprofits from proceeds from the 2023 From the Heart gala.

Representatives from the Hub City Senior Center, Foundation for Focus House, Rochelle Area Community Foundation and HOPE of Ogle County received checks Tuesday. Four more checks will be presented at Rotary’s March 21 meeting to Rochelle Christian Food Pantry, Pegasus Special Riders, Shining Star Children’s Advocacy Center and CASA. The 2023 gala raised $80,000 this year, hitting its goal to give each nonprofit $10,000.

“This is my favorite part of From the Heart, giving out the checks,” Eckhardt said. “This is the greatest part of the whole thing. This is my 15th year of doing this, and it never gets old. Everyone is getting $10,000 each today.”

HCSC Executive Director Diana King was the first to accept a check on Tuesday. The senior center provides activities, transportation and nutrition for older adults. King said its transportation initiatives are “extremely busy” and did 8,000 rides last year.

“We have a lot of new activities within the senior center, including line dancing classes, computer classes, chair yoga and exercises, crafting, bingo, birthday parties and more,” King said. “We're really busy. If you haven't been there in a while, please stop by. Before Connie left, she made a lot of changes, so it looks beautiful there. We just welcome you to come in and have a cup of coffee and say hello.” 

Foundation for Focus House Executive Director Jeni Hardin was the next to accept a check from From the Heart. Focus House is a residential and outpatient facility for youth that are going through the court system. It also has an alternative to suspension program where students that have been suspended from middle school and high school go to the facility and meet with counselors and do schoolwork.

“We also do outpatient, which is one of our biggest programs,” Hardin said. “We go to Tilton School, Chana School and our counselors spend time with the kids that may need a little extra help. Maybe they're not in trouble with the law yet, but maybe a teacher or counselor sees them going in that direction. Our counselors go out there and meet with them usually once or twice a week.”

Focus House residents are in school structure during normal school hours and their other hours at the facility are spent in counseling and doing different activities to build social and community skills. 

“If anyone has any volunteer work for the kids in the community, please call us,” Hardin said. “A lot of our students have community service hours to fulfill or just like to get out for a couple of hours and do some good in the community.”

RACF Executive Director Emily Anaya accepted a $10,000 check from From the Heart Tuesday and described her organization’s mission. RACF provides support to area nonprofits through a competitive grant process yearly. It also works with donors from every walk of life from small donations to big donations and everything in between.

This year, RACF will reach $1 million in support for local nonprofits since its inception. It is also preparing to announce its 2023 community grants. 

“We like to work with our nonprofit partners to help promote them,” Anaya said. “I like to say that what the chamber of commerce is to our businesses, we are to our nonprofits and partners. We use the From the Heart funds for RACF itself. It helps to keep the lights on, pay all the utilities and to do things like hiring a new administrative assistant. We are truly grateful to From the Heart for helping us to be able to grow the foundation. Thank you so much.”

HOPE of Ogle County Executive Director Ruth Carter accepted the final check of Tuesday’s round of donations. HOPE is the domestic violence agency and shelter that services Ogle County and northeast Lee County. It offers emergency shelter services.

“We shelter on a case-by-case basis, which really means that everybody's situation is just a little bit different,” Carter said. “Some people just need a couple of days in a shelter just to be safe and others need some extra time to get back on their feet and build resources like childcare, employment and education. We help them with all of those things.”

HOPE also offers counseling services including individual counseling for children, teens and adults. It has multiple locations in Ogle County to provide convenient locations for those in need of services. It also has a court advocacy program for Ogle County that includes two court advocates to help people who are interested in or would like an order of protection.

“They educate people about the process and guide people and support them through the entire order of protection process in court,” Carter said. “It is impressive to see how much support they can give a survivor and at the same time navigate the court system.”