ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local non-profit that gives kids a safe place to go after school is getting a little safer.

Rock House Kids has received money to install ballistic windows. Administrators said that they have mixed feelings. On one hand, they said that hearing the news around the holidays felt like receiving a present. On the other, it is hard not to feel upset that this was needed in the first place.

The non-profit gives first through twelfth graders from Rockford’s inner city a safe place to go after school. A new grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, however, is allowing Rock House to be an even safer space.

“Well, I was really excited that we received this grant, but then it also hurts my heart that we needed this grant for the ballistic glass,” said Dee Lacny, executive director of Rock House Kids. “What it’s gonna do, it’s gonna make it safer, and everybody that comes in is going to be able to breathe a little bit better.”

A recent shooting on Charles Street and the ongoing gang presence in the area is why the nearly $38,000 grant is so necessary.

“It’s so important to have a safe place here at Rock House Kids, because the kids need to get off the street. The gangs are still pulling at them, there’s violence around, there’s gun violence. Look at the news, we hear about it all the time,” Lacny said. “So, we want to make sure that we have a place where the doors are open, the kids can come in, not worry about the outside world and just relax and be a kid.”

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois has been awarding grants to non-profits in need since 1953. Program Director James Patterson told