WHEATON – Members of the DuPage County Board, municipal officials, the DuPage County state's attorney and Illinois and U.S. representatives and senators gathered together Sept. 17 to dedicate the newly constructed Jeanine Nicarico Children's Advocacy Center.
The center is named in memory of a 10-year-old Naperville girl who was abducted and murdered in 1983. It will serve as a space to interview children who are possible victims of crime or abuse.
Located at 422 N. County Farm Road in Wheaton, the cost to build the center was $5.6 million. It was funded by a State Block Grant and fines from the DuPage County Circuit Court.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said the center will provide a comfortable place for people to open up about the "horrific things" they have experienced.
"The investigation of these physical and sexual abuse cases against children is very hard, it's difficult," he said. "And the investigators have a difficult job, but it's a recognition that these cases require extra attention, they require expertise, and this facility is designed to help children and their families."
Nicarico was represented by her family, including her parents Tom and Patricia.
"Right now my heart is overwhelmed and touched by all of you," Patricia Nicarico said.
Nicarico said she is glad that new resources are available to children in the county. She hopes having her daughter's name on the building will send a message to children affected by crime or abuse that "there is a future for them and they also can be happy, lovely little children like she was."
When asked if the building would be a condolence to the family, Tom Nicarico paused.
"We've pretty much come to terms with what has happened and what's gone on over the years," Nicarico said.
The family had experienced "tremendous support" from those around them, he said, and the center's dedication was "just another extraordinary example of that."
"Is it making things any better? Not necessarily. But it's wonderful, and very very much appreciated," he said.