Each day, the staff and volunteers at Maristella in Libertyville receive about 15 calls from people who need help paying their rent or finding housing.
"Our goal is to prevent the homelessness," said Fran Forys, one of the founders of the non-profit organization.
These days, though, meeting that goal has become tougher with a tighter cash flow. Forys said grant money from the state is running three months behind.
"I pray every day, 'Lord, please bring us some big bucks,'" said Forys. "The government money is very scarce. But we have survived. We're trying to keep up good spirits."
Next month, the community will have a chance to help Maristella bring in some money to help meet the needs of its clients. Two local restaurants—Casa Bonita and Mickey Finn's—will donate 15 percent of their proceeds to Maristella. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 9, Casa Bonita will donate a percentage of sales. There will also be a raffle at 8 p.m., Forys said.
Then, from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, Oct. 12, Mickey Finn's will donate a percentage of sales to Maristella when customers present a special ticket. Forys said those tickets are available at Maristella, located at 745 N. Milwaukee Ave., in the plaza behind Caribou Coffee. For more information, call Maristella at (847) 367-5360.
A special Mass will be held at noon Oct. 10 at Marytown, and a free-will offering will be held for Maristella.
Oct. 10 will mark the organization's 14th anniversary, Forys said. . Men can receive assistance if they can prove they have custody of their children. Forys said most clients from North Chicago, Waukegan and Zion.
Since it started in 1998, Maristella has helped about 3,600 people. The organization is actively working with about 20 clients now, Forys said.
Forys said she has seen a change in the people who call Maristella for assistance.
"The difference now is that it used to be the poorest of the poor, but now it's the middle class people," she said. "They're not used to being in that situation and they say, 'I don't know what to do.'"
Forys said Maristella can help those people find housing at hotels, pay for rent or pay for the security deposit on an apartment.
Maristella also offers its clients some added perks at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If the moms attend at least six Moms of Maristella meetings each year, they can participate in the adopt-a-family program at Christmas and receive food at Thanksgiving.
Forys said Vernon Hills High School students and staff hold mini-fundraisers and then buy gifts for the families at Christmas.
For Thanksgiving, Mundelein High School donates food. Libertyville High School students and staff donate money to the program, which Maristella then uses to purchase additional food. Maristella families can then pick up their food at the Libertyville Civic Center.
"The fun thing about that is people being involved," said Forys.
Other local groups and businesses also help Maristella. For example, the St. Joseph Catholic Church Mothers With Children group held a fashion show that brought in $10,000 for Maristella.
Chase Bank is also holding its Chase Community Giving campaign on Facebook where people can vote for a charity to receive grant money. Visit the Chase Community Giving site to vote for Maristella. Voting closes at 10:59 p.m. Sept. 19.
"The important thing is that when somebody leaves here they feel better about themselves and know, 'I'm going to be OK,'" said Forys.
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