Celebrating End of Summer and Back to School at the Rice Center
The end of summer can be a bittersweet time for kids, but the children at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child & Family Center celebrated the “back to school season” with a bang, thanks to our generous volunteers and donors and the Rice Center staff.
The end of summer carnival held at our Evanston residential treatment center had everything guaranteed to make kids forget their end of summer blues: cotton candy, a bouncy house, a slime-making station (staffed by a group of young volunteers from St. James School in Lincoln Park), a treasure hunt and face painting/photo booth.
Also on hand to help celebrate were volunteers from the Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) Executive Committee. The Rice Center will be the beneficiary of the 2020 Dance Marathon, taking place March 6-8, 2020.
“It’s the first time that NUDM has chosen an Evanston charity as the beneficiary, so it’s wonderful that we can easily come over to spend time here with the kids,” said Rachel Cantor, the executive co-chair. The NUDM volunteers will be raising funds for the Rice Center all year, with the final check presented at the end of the 30-hour marathon on March 8.
Other special guests at the carnival included former Rice Center resident Gretchen. Gretchen and her two boys made the long trip from Zion, Illinois to attend. Gretchen was a resident at the Rice Center when she was just six years old. Now the 35-year-old mother of two makes an annual visit to reconnect with staff who are still working at the Rice Center, 30 years later.
“It feels like home to me,” Gretchen says as she hugs Melvin Tate, who recently celebrated 42 years as a Rice Center staff member.
The Rice Center program helps children who have suffered trauma from neglect or abuse heal and return to a loving family as soon as possible. The good news is that with the help of our generous community of donors and the dedication of the Rice staff, 100% of the children who left the Rice Center last year went into a loving and prepared family, whether their own biological parents or a foster family. The average stay at Rice has decreased from two years to 18 months over the last several years.
A huge thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this a special day. An equally big thank you to our staff and our amazing, resilient children for their commitment to starting school on the best possible foot. Learn more about the Rice Center here.