St. Rose Center Scheduled for Closure by the End of the Month
By: Adriana Cardona – The Gate Newspaper
Evelia Camacho, a hair stylist, has an established daily routine. She gets up every day at six in the morning, prepares a light breakfast and gets her daughter ready to take her to St. Rose Center, a center for people with disabilities located in Back of the Yards.
Camacho’s daughter, Lizette has Down syndrome. She is 25-years-old and for the last three years has been going to St. Rose for training and therapy.
Camacho drops Lizette off by 8 a.m. and from there she goes to work at a hair salon in Bridgeport until 2 p.m. This schedule has allowed her to continue to work while Lizette develops new skills in an independent yet comfortable environment.
“[My daughter] is safe here in this place,” said Camacho. “They treat [the students] well, they work with them, they’re dedicated to make them develop their abilities and skills because by the time they’re adults, if you don’t keep a person with special needs continuing with what they have already learned, they will forget and will become a little lazy.”
Unfortunately, for Camacho and her daughter this will soon change. On May 31, they received a letter from St. Rose issued to all the students’ families announcing its permanent closure by the end of June.
“On May 29th we received the notice from the board of directors of the cessation of operation of St. Rose Center,” stated the letter. “It is with great sorrow that we announce to you that St. Rose Center will close and [will] not provide its developmental training program effective June 30, 2012.”
The letter then went on to inform parents that the last day for their sons or daughters at the center would be June 29.
According to Camacho, many parents were confused about the situation of the center. They knew that the state of Illinois is behind with payments, but were unsure about other motives.
Currently, the state pays for the students’ tuition cost and the center pays for transportation and other expenses, explained Sister Janet Kosman, St. Rose administrator with the Daughters of St. Mary’s of Providence – the congregation that runs the center.
But that is not the ultimate reason for the closure she said.
“It wasn’t a sudden decision,” said Kosman. “For years the sisters have told us that this might happen. It was a possibility because of the funding, but it wasn’t all funding.”
That was just a small portion she explained.
“We don’t have enough religious personnel to staff all the places so that was a big part of the decision too.”
For now, Camacho as well as other parents worry about the future of their adult children and how well they will take the change.
“I would have to have her home all the time and that’s not good for her,” said Camacho. “Even though I make her do her activities, you have to work with them so that they don’t forget what they already know. At home, I make her write her name, write down her phone number, the alphabet, whatever she knows.”
Other parents expressed their discontent with the closure knowing how difficult it is to find quality care in other centers especially when some of them already developed strong friendships.
Eva Candido and Evangelina Amaro are two friends whose sons are both disabled and attend St. Rose. Their sons, Albert Amaro and Daniel Puente, have been together for many years and the change is going to put a huge stress on them, they said.
“Adapting to the changes is very hard for them”, said Candido as she tells the story of how Amaro’s son could not go to bed once because he was not going to be able to attend an event with his long time friend Puente.
In Lizette’s case, Camacho worries that in other centers her daughter will not have the close attention that she receives at St. Rose. “When something happens here or something happens to her, she can’t explain it to me. Sometimes, she just cries or points out things, but she can’t explain it. In the three years she’s been here, she has not had any problem. She loves to come,” she added.
There is currently a possibility for the center to continue to stay open under a different leadership, but nothing yet is concrete as they wait to hear if another agency would like to purchase the program, explained Kosman.
“Some people have found new places to go but if there is a possibility that the center remains open under different people then they have an option to continue here,” she said. “But it doesn’t happen overnight, so we don’t know yet who it will be.”
As of now, Camacho, Candido and Amaro are hoping to get in touch with any elected official who could help them keep the center open. But under different leadership, said Camacho, the center will not be the same without the sisters.
“As the sister said perhaps another agency will come and pick up this program. But we know that it’s not going to be the same. We know the kids have a lot of respect for the sisters, they pray before they start eating. They attend mass on Fridays and they have many more spiritual services than in other places. We love it for its spiritually as well.”