MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — From cooking classes to providing a safe place for local kids to do their homework, The United Way of Rock River Valley is branching out.
The organization is setting up a brand new sense of security in Winnebago County. The latest project is the first time the non-profit targets kids outside of Rockford.
It might not look like much now but the plot of land on Marie Avenue in Machesney Park will soon be a United Way Strong Neighborhood house.
“We’re hoping to make the community a lot stronger by bridging the gap between police officers and the community,” explained Sergeant Anthony Ponte of the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office.
Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department and Loves Park Police Department will have different officers working at the house throughout the day. The idea behind the house is to build trust with the community.
“The community can come in and ask some questions, if there are problems complaints, they can deal with them right then and there,” Sgt. Ponte added.
But it’s also a place to get away and have fun with events like movie night and neighborhood watch meetings.
“We will be working with residents who live in the area around the house to make sure that we’re in touch with them and their aspirations their wishes what they want for their families and their children,” explained Paul Logli of United Way of Rock River Valley.
There are two similar houses in Rockford. It will be the first of its kind in Machesney Park.
“We picked Marie Ave because it borders Machesney Park and Loves Park. And it’s a block away from a school, so kids will be able to come over and we’ll have a lot of functions for the kids and the community,” Sgt. Ponte said.
This is also the organization’s first house being built from scratch.
“We’re working with many many different organizations, mainly with the building trades that are donating countless hours of free labor to build the house,” Logli added.
United Way has been a fixture in the Stateline community for 100 years. Leaders say they can’t wait to see the success of this latest house.
“We believe we can again, help respond to the needs of the neighborhood and improve the quality of life for everybody and help build trust between the law enforcement and the neighborhood,” Logli said.
The groundbreaking for the house is Thursday, July 23rd. The public is welcome to take a look. The house is expected to be done by October.
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