Freedom House, formerly a walk-in shelter in a small rural community in north central Illinois, has sought ways to house clients for more than a short-term or crisis stay. The Board and staff of the Freedom House put out an urgent plea to the communities it served in February 2003. They requested Assistance in the renovation of a two-years’ dormant building and the eventual creation of Freedom House’s new crisis shelter and long-term residential units for victims of domestic and sexual violence and/or their children.
The response was overwhelming. Several civic organizations, churches, businesses and individuals stepped forward to create the Adopt-a-Room program at Freedom House in Princeton, Illinois. Volunteers included members of the Princeton Junior Woman’s Club, the Bureau County Republican Women’s group, the Bradford Beta Sigmas, the Princeton Beta Sigmas, employees from Citizens First National Bank, Wal-Mart Distribution Center and Wind Power Electric in addition to two mother-daughter teams.
These 35 volunteers attended informational meetings and assisted in the planning of each of the 16 rooms, working in close conjunction with Freedom House. All rooms were painted, carpeted and furnished once Freedom House concluded its phase of the work, but all other amenities of the room became the responsibility of the volunteers. Each “adopting” individual or group purchased all bedding, lamps, rugs, window treatments, borders, pictures, frames or floral arrangements for the bedrooms and living rooms, and all towels, towel racks, shower curtains, toilet paper holders, cabinetry, rugs, soap and all other hygiene products for the bathrooms.
The volunteers were responsible for taking barren cinderblock walls, inescapable bullet-proof windows and industrial strength carpet and turn this room into a “home” cozy enough for a traumatized family to move into and feel safe and comforted.
The Adopt-a-Room was officially completed in February 2004 following more than 500 hours of community service. Freedom House clients moved into the facility in December of the prior year in anticipation of the final touches being added. Because of the volunteers’ efforts, Freedom House now is an entity that virtually no other shelter in the state of Illinois is complete with long-term residential units and capable of housing three families for a period of two years. With this new 89-room site, this concept affords clients with multiple obstacles more time to heal and to craft a new life for themselves and their families.