Loretta Liley (left) and Susan Crowe (right) of Eunice Smith Home stand with Andrea Lamer, executive director of the Alton YWCA, at a ribbon cutting for the Y’s renovated Children’s Learning Center.
ALTON — Two Eunice Smith Home employees have gone above and beyond the call of duty with volunteer work at the Alton YWCA.
Loretta Liley and Susan Crowe of ESH gave up most of three Saturdays last fall to transform the floor of the Y’s remodeled Children’s Learning Center.
“With many goals to improve the activity areas for the children and a limited budget for accomplishing the mission, we knew the floor would be a challenge,” YWCA Executive Director Andrea Lamer said. “Years of wear had taken a heavy toll. The floor was uninviting — to say the least — for floor play or nap time, so it had to be addressed.”
However, early estimates for restoring the floor took up a huge chunk of the Y’s budget for the entire project. So YWCA board member Margaret Freer reached out to Mark Jeffries, administrator of Eunice Smith Home on the Alton Memorial Hospital campus. Instead of advice, Jeffries sent Liley and Crowe to move furniture, strip, clean, wax and burnish the floor.
“It’s precious to be able to donate our time and skills,” Liley said. “We feel fortunate and blessed to be able to contribute.”
“Giving back to the community is important; to be able to help out where it’s really needed is a pleasure,” Crowe said.
The Alton YWCA, 304 E. Third St., welcomed community members and guests Nov. 17 to celebrate the newly remodeled Children’s Learning Center with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“We certainly hope the kids are enjoying the new space provided for them,” Lamer said. “It’s been a hard couple of years for the Y, but we’ve been working hard. We have such a unique heritage of the organization and our dynamic youth programming makes the YWCA a special place.”
The space was designed to encourage children to explore, play, learn and contribute. Board members see the renovated area as a symbol for a new beginning for the YWCA.
“We’ve had tremendous help from our board members and a lot of community participation,” Lamer said. “We’ve been able to not just transform the appearance and function of the room, we’ve made changes to the curriculum and the work we do through the program. We focus a lot on problem-solving and show how they can take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations here.”
“With what Mrs. Lamer, her staff and volunteers have done with the budget they have, it’s almost a miracle,” Mayor Brant Walker said. “It’s nice to see the continued commitment. What they’re doing for the kids in the neighborhood is going to be even better. As a mayor, I’m proud. The YWCA goes back almost a century and it’s fantastic to see our community commit to this organization. Almost everything that’s been done has been accomplished through volunteers and donations. We live in an amazing community.”