March 2012 Meeting Minutes


Sat., March 24th, 9:30 a.m.-Noon:  GPA’s Breakfast Brainstorming  Historical Museum

Mon., April 2nd, 7 p.m.:  GPA Board Meeting  Historical Museum

Mon., April 9th, 7 p.m.:  GPA House Tour Committee Meeting  Historical Museum

Fri., April 20th, 6:30 p.m.:  Membership Potluck  Lords Park Pavilion 


March 15, 2012


The meeting was called to order by President Karen Bach.



Dorie Alpha, Carol/John Anderson, Karen/Chris Bach, Bill Briska, Fran Cella, Barbara Evans, Ali Hallock, John LaFleur, Pat/Dan Miller, Glenna/Mark Preradovic, Doug Tomsha, Roy/Linda Voss, Gretchen Vapnar


The motion to approve the minutes of the February 16, 2012, meeting as printed—made by Carol Anderson and seconded by Fran Cella—passed unanimously.



As of today, GPA’s total funds add up to $98,828.18.  Of this amount, $4,539.45 is in checking, $13,891.97 in money market, and the rest in four CDs.

HISTORIC DISTRICT  (Dan Miller, Chair  [email protected])

Chuck Kaiser has been given the ideas Dan solicited from the Board for signage and will do computer mock-ups of them.  Jackie Settipani, an art teacher who excels in computer design, will also enlist some of her students to design other signs for our consideration.

HOUSE TOUR  (Bill Briska  [email protected])

Options being discussed for the after-party are pizza and catering.  Still needed, however, is a chairperson(s) to coordinate it.  Contact Bill if you are willing.

Barbara passed out copies of the tri-fold given to potential sponsors for the tour booklet and asked that people consider taking them along to their next doctor’s and dentist’s appointments in order that a group of professionals that would be difficult to solicit otherwise might be tapped.  Copies will also be at the Breakfast Brainstorming session.

Local businesses are being approached by Barbara; thus if there is one that you have a personal connection to, first call (847-742-2265) or email her at [email protected] to see if she has already contacted the owner.

Although the House Tour Committee as a whole had given Barbara the approval to lower the sponsorship fee for Patrons to $50 and for the Nostalgia Club to $100, the subcommittee decided to keep those fees at $75 and $150, respectively. Post-meeting Update: Unfortunately, Barbara thought the committee’s decision was a you-may, but the rest thought it a you-will.  Thus we will quote the lower fees for the two categories.

Gretchen Vapnar’s comment that the Crisis Center would certainly be willing to give some sponsorship money, though perhaps not at the rates we offer, raised the issue of offering a special rate for a Patron listing to not-for-profit organizations.  This will be discussed at the next House Tour meeting, which is April 9th.

MEMBERSHIP  (Dorie Alpha, Chair   [email protected])

Reminders of the April 20th potluck to be held at Lords Park Pavilion will be sent out this weekend, along with the tantalizing announcement that the main course will feature parmesan-crusted chicken.

As the spring potluck is the event at which annual awards are given, Board members are asked to come prepared to make recommendations at their April 2nd meeting.  And please plan to come to the potluck to learn who the recipient of the Chuck/Audrey Behrens’ Award is.

PUBLIC RELATIONS  (John LaFleur, Chair   [email protected])

Due to Karen’s persuasive skills as well as John’s desire to contribute to GPA, we are no longer without a P.R. person.  After the Breakfast Brainstorming and follow-up have yielded new projects and perhaps even perspectives for GPA, John will discuss plans for publicizing them.

BREAKFAST BRAINSTORMING  (Fran Cella  [email protected])

Every few years, GPA needs to reassess its priorities and use of its resources.  The purpose of this March 24th, 9:30 a.m. gathering at the Historical Museum is to do this in a relaxed and welcoming forum.

Although invitations have been sent, it will take people personally contacting people to truly make this event a success.  Thus we all need to be knocking on our neighbors’ doors and calling our friends to tell them that this is a great opportunity to have a say in the future plans of GPA, regardless of whether or not they are current members.

GUEST SPEAKER:  Gretchen Vapnar, Executive Director of the Community Crisis Center

In 1974, the City of Elgin wasn’t in the forefront of the women’s movement; the churches, however were, and it was the churches that made possible the establishment of the Community Crisis Center.

Though the Center’s first location was not Gretchen’s first choice because it was the historic residence at 600 Margaret Place, the other possibility was deemed far too large.  Thus Gretchen, as Executive Director, made sure that as run down as 600 Margaret Place was, the historic features that still existed were preserved when it became the Center’s first home in 1975.  (That Gretchen is simpático to historic homes is not surprising, for she and her husband lived at the old parsonage on Barrett St. for 27 years.)

Although Margaret Place was licensed to house ten people, the need became far greater, so in 1987, Fred Steffen was instrumental in convincing the Congregational Church to purchase Franklin School from U-46 for around $25,000 and to then sell it to the Crisis Center for $1.

Meeting this evening in the Center’s third-floor conference room with its exposed brick and beams, we saw first-hand that the money spent to renovate the old Franklin School in 1987 and 2000 resulted in “a good job of an adaptive reuse of an old building that was to be torn down.”

Because the City of Elgin had declared that a crisis center could be no closer to downtown than the old Franklin School, all involved are most appreciative of the fact that they are in the Historic District and “strive to make the Center a good neighbor.”  If ever there are concerns about anything involving it, please call Gretchen at 847-742-4088, Ext. 118.

Open 24/7, the Center has a staff of 32, most of whom are part-time.  While all case managers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, most have their masters’.  Seventeen interns also work to meet the needs of its clients.

Chartered to serve victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and economic distress, currently, the Center can serve 40 women/children a night, housing them in seven dormitory-styled bedrooms/bathrooms.  House rules are, for good reason, restrictive.  By 10:00 p.m., for example, all must be in the Center, and lights are out at 11:00 p.m.  Because there is no day care at the facility, women are required to be present to watch their children as well as to help with the cooking, etc.  And obviously, no “using or abusing” is tolerated.

Although the age limit for boys is 12, if a 12-year-old more resembles a 16-year-old, his mother is asked to find another place for him.  Interestingly, this is usually not a problem, for it is far less easy for women to find alternative housing for their daughters than for their sons.

By law, school districts are required to provide services for displaced children.  Most at the Center attend U-46 schools, but if it is feared that a father may interfere, they are sent to a neighboring district.  That people are sensitive to these children’s needs was evidenced, for example, several years ago when U-46 bus drivers decided, without any prompting from the Center, that to spare the Center’s children embarrassment, they would pick them up first and drop them off last.

While the stay for victims of domestic violence averages 14 days, the Center does its best to “move people along.”  To this end, it works closely with every other agency in Elgin, for far from being competitive, these agencies are engaged in a cooperative venture to “get people where they need to be.”

In addition to providing temporary shelter, the Center provides counseling services on a walk-in basis for both sexes.  And it hands out the equivalent of 104 meals a day via canned/packaged food.  Of the approximately 60 people who “walk in” on an average day, most are from the Center’s target area.  People also appear to ask for other things.  As a case in point, Gretchen noted the gentleman who occasionally comes for deodorant, a small thing but something he simply cannot afford.

The Center also manages the Kane County hot line 24/7.  Furthermore, if an abuse victim is brought to one of Elgin’s hospitals, the Center is called so that within a half hour, a trained volunteer is on the scene to meet with her.

Aware of all the Crisis Center does, questions arose about funding.  Officially, the State of Illinois is responsible for half of the Center’s $2.1 to $2.4 million-dollar-a year-budget.  However, it is currently $200,000 in arrears of its payments.  So delinquent was the State in 2009, in fact, that the Center feared it would have to close.  To the rescue came Sarah Evans, a local P.R. person who so successfully used social media to raise awareness of the need for funds that $161,000 was raised in but three weeks.

“We are incredibly blessed,” said Gretchen, noting that when the need for funding arises, people always step up to help.  The annual auction this year, for example, raised $120,000.  In addition to corporations and individual donors, the Center gets funding from Elgin and Hanover Townships as well as from the United Way and city Block Grants.

But always the Center is in need of donations such as those on the “Emergency Food Pantry Food Drive” list that Gretchen distributed.  Other needs, including volunteers, are on the “Greatest Needs” list.  Although Dan Miller emailed members both of these lists immediately after the meeting, if you missed them, contact Dan for copies or call the Center at 847-742-4088.

You can also help the Center while helping yourself by dropping in at its resale store, Reruns, Too, at back of the shopping center at the corner of Wing St. and N. MacLean.  Antique lovers especially should make it a point to stop in often, for the Center has just been the beneficiary of an estate with many excellent pieces of furniture.  The store is open all days except Sunday and Monday.  Its hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the exception of Thursday, when it does not close until 7 p.m.  Call 847-695-2662 for information about donating.  (Clothing is not accepted.)


Made by Dorie and seconded by John A., this motion passed unanimously.


Kudos to Karen, Glenna, Fran and John L. and the Crisis Center for providing us with so many goodies to munch on as we socialized after the meeting.

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Evans, Secretary