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Roseland Day Care was born in 1992 when Pearl Willis quit her job in order to care for 5 babies of 5 Fenger high school moms in her apartment. Pearl saw teens who were children themselves, trying to raise children, relying on welfare, and quitting school and work, because they couldn't attend school or work without day care.
Pearl cared for the kids in the her 2 bedroom apartment. She provided baby food and diapers, giving the young girls "No Excuse" to quit school if the girls didn't have diapers or food for the babies.. She taught bible study to moms of the babies and to the school aged children at The “Good News” club.
The number of moms seeking Pearl's help expanded rapidly, and they were soon out of space in her apartment. Word spread of Pearl's work and her loving care for children. At one point she met with the counselor at Fenger High School learning that there were many teenage moms and she offered to help any one who needed it. Because of the lack of space, Ms. Pearl, the moms and the children began to pray for more room.
In 1992, The Roseland neighborhood in which she lived, and cared for the kids, was rough: Riddled with gang-bangers, drug traffic, prostitution, a liquor-store on every corner, and frequent gang-related murders As Pearl was driving her children to school everyday she regularly passed a boarded-up two-flat house, at 214 West 113th Street, one of the roughest streets in the neighborhood. One day the Lord prompted her to stop and look at the building. She climbed through the back window and she realized she could live on the second floor and run the day care on the first floor. The building was in bad shape, but as she walked around it she knew that it was the building that the Lord was giving her for the day care.
When Pearl discovered the building was up for bid for $13, 000 she jumped at the opportunity. She took her last $500 to procure a bid on the building. It was an empty HUD property. She still needed $12,500 for the building. Through the help from Mustard Seed Foundation she was given $5000 seed money, and after that 3 members of Christ Temple Community Church donated $2000 each giving her the money she needed. HUD accepted her bid and the building became hers for the day care.
The building was in sad shape, as it had become a crack house over the years. So Ms. Pearl started the major rehab project. One day at a time, one toilet at a time, Pearl bought parts and fixtures to repair and clean up the building. A volunteer obtained a free furnace, and free windows, from the City of Chicago. Pearl's own hands did much of the rehab. Imagine Pearl up on a two story ladder, with nails in her mouth, hanging up aluminum siding! Her brother assisted her occasionally with the work.
With the help of the Mid America Leadership foundation donors were able to give to Roseland Day Care. Ms. Pearl worked hard to obtain her day care license from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and was granted a license. It took her almost a year to rehab the building, but in 1993 it was ready to open for business.
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