LOMBARD – When Gina Damore was given news last week that the Deicke Home was in jeopardy of closing its doors after 31 years, she was devastated.
“It was just heartbreaking,” said Damore, a Lombard resident and a volunteer at the home. “They’re a family, and it’s their home.”
The Edwin F. Deicke Home, 1005 E. Division St. in Lombard, is a private, nonprofit residential home for adults with developmental disabilities. The home, which houses 16 residents, will close March 31 if it is unable to secure additional funding.
“We have been a part of the Lombard community for so long, but it costs a lot of money for food, transportation and staff,” said Bruce Thompson, director for the home for the past nine years.
Roughly 70 percent of the total operating cost comes from donations and fundraising efforts, but those sources have been depleted in recent years. Five years ago, the home began to operate using reserve funds, Thompson said.
“Those [funds] are down to almost nothing now,” he said.
The remainder of the funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides a small subsidy, and from each resident’s Social Security benefits and the $375 a month that guardians are allowed to provide, Thompson said.
As residents went about their daily activities Tuesday morning, there were mutual feelings of uncertainty and sadness. For many of the residents, the place has been a stable home and a close-knit family.
Marilyn, a resident of the Deicke Home for 25 years, said she was very upset when told that the home was in jeopardy of closing.
“We don’t want this place to close,” she said. “I would be miserable if I wasn’t here.”
Ed, a three-year resident, said he was shocked when he heard.
“I love this place,” he said.
Tom and Collette Powers, the founding members of a school called the West Suburban Association, in 1982 decided to expand the school and build a residential home neighboring the schoolhouse for adults with developmental disabilities. Edwin and Lois Deicke, who lived near the school, donated $100,000 to the home.
Since its inception in 1983, the Deicke Home has relied heavily on private donations. Many people have chosen to write the home into their wills and trusts, sometimes providing lump sum amounts that helped Deicke build its reserve fund and stay in the black each year, Thompson said.
“We have been truly blessed over the years,” he said.
But it takes roughly $20,000 a month to break even, and with reserves depleted, the Deicke Home is running short on options.
A “Save the Edwin F. Deicke Home” page has been set up at GoFundMe.com, a public crowdfunding website. Created by Thompson’s daughter, Kristin, the goal is to raise $100,000, which would allow the home to remain open for several months as the board of directors works to create a long-term financial plan, Thompson said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the site had raised $5,530.
“That [goal] would give us some breathing room to be able to come up with something for beyond that,” he said. “It’s a hard position for everyone to be in. Every day they ask if we’re closing.”
Damore, who began volunteering at the home last year, said volunteers and staff are reaching out to local churches, businesses and the community to ask for financial help.
“We need a lot of people to help a little bit,” she said.