URBANA — More stressed families have been turning to the Crisis Nursery for help, but by dining at some local restaurants, you can help this Urbana agency start serving more children, possibly by later this summer.
The Crisis Nursery — which provides a safe haven for babies and children through age 6 whose families are in temporary situations of crisis — is launching a new fundraising program called Dine and Donate with local restaurants.
Restaurants that sign up will donate a percentage of each customer's bill for one day to the Crisis Nursery. All anybody else has to do is show up on that day and be a customer.
Steve Fiala, owner of D.P. Dough, a calzone shop at 33 E. Green St., C, has a fundraiser scheduled for Jan. 30. Fiala said he'll be donating 20 percent of his gross sales for the day, and that includes dine-in, pickup and delivery.
"Hopefully, we can write a substantial check at the end of the day," he said.
Stephanie Record, executive director of the Crisis Nursery, said the nursery is now licensed to serve 16 children, but can only serve 12 due to its current staffing and budget. And adding those four extra spots could potentially mean a lot to the families being turned away.
The nursery always finds a way to serve a family in a genuine safety emergency, she said. But there are 20 to 30 families a month that request a spot for a day due to various stress needs — for example, Mom has to go to work and doesn't have child care — that have to be turned down due to lack of space.
The Crisis Nursery handled 84 additional children in 2012 than it did in fiscal 2011, its development and marketing director Kristen Bosch said. She and Record attribute the increase to more stresses on the economy and a decision to expand service to 6-year-olds last year.
Record said the nursery also helps a lot of families struggling with autism and special needs, including a couple of families that are overwhelmed and need respite care.
Resources to help families are being spread thin across many human service agencies in the community, she said.
"We all kind of help where we can," she said.
The Crisis Nursery receives funding from a variety of sources — fundraising, donations, grants and the state — Record said, with its largest fundraiser an annual dinner and auction that brings in about $120,000.
With the new Dine and Donate fundraiser, she said, "we're hoping this will be a long-term initiative to help support our budget and be a consistent way for us to bring in more funding each month."
Crisis Nursery officials hope it will be clear by next July whether community support will be consistent enough to support the expansion of four more spaces for kids, Record said.
Another fundraiser coming up will be at Butcher Boy Burgers in Rantoul on Feb. 14, Bosch said.
Three other restaurants have signed up but haven't set dates yet. They include Village Inn Pizza and The Great Impasta in Urbana and Java Connection in Rantoul.
Other restaurants can get involved by calling the Crisis Nursery at 337-2731.