By Kim Jansen
News Report Staff
When Meghan Rewers was working at the Crisis Nursery in Urbana, she knew it was a special place and often thought how beneficial a crisis nursery would be in her hometown.
The Effingham native, who is a 2004 graduate of Effingham High School, focused her education on social service, earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois.
After graduating, Rewers spent the first four years of her career working at the Crisis Nursery of Urbana, where she filled several roles, including positions as a childcare worker, volunteer coordinator and family advocate.
She and her husband decided to return to the Effingham area to start a family, and she began to think again about how the Effingham community could benefit from a crisis nursery.
“I remember thinking that this would be so cool in Effingham, but at first, I brushed it off because I thought it would never happen,” said Rewers. “But once I really started thinking about the idea, I decided to tell people about it and see what happens.”
Rewers started the conversation with a group of local social service directors and counselors to get their thoughts on the project and to see if they thought it was feasible in the community.
“It was something so different than what we had around here, and everyone loved the idea,” said Rewers, who added everything began to move forward from the first meeting. “I have been trying to keep up since that meeting. It has been incredible.”
With donations from the community and help from volunteers, Crisis Nursery of Effingham County opened its doors in March of 2017, with Rewers serving as the executive director.
The Crisis Nursery also found a strong partner in HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, which provided startup funds and contributes to the annual operating budget through its foundation.
“The hospital support catapulted us and made it possible for us to open so quickly,” said Rewers, adding that the nursery does not receive any state or federal funding. “All of our funding comes from grants, donations and fundraising.”
Crisis Nursery of Effingham County, which served 154 children last fiscal year, provides a nurturing, safe space for children and families to use in times of need and provides 24-hour emergency shelter care to children ages birth to 6 years.
“We have had more families come to us than we ever imagined during our first year,” said Rewers, who said the goal was 100 children. “We have been floored with how many families have come to us for situations that they don’t plan for and they don’t expect. We are so happy that we are here to help.”
Examples of crisis situations include, but are not limited to, parental stress, domestic violence, medical crisis, mental health crisis, court-related crisis, job-related crisis or school-related crisis.
“Crisis does not discriminate. Crisis can look like many different things, but we define it as anything that may put a child or family at risk,” said Rewers.
Rewers said the shortest service the nursery has provided is an hour, with the longest extending eight days.
“It depends on the circumstances. Our program allows us to meet the unique needs of every family that comes in,” said Rewers, adding that the trained staff works to create plans of action for each child, since the facility is a temporary solution.
With the success of the Crisis Nursery, Rewers is excited for the future and grateful for a supportive community.
“As a parent in our community, it makes me so proud and so thankful to see how Effingham rallies around projects,” she said.
As far as watching her idea for the nursery turn into a reality, Rewers described it as “inspiring.”
“I don’t have words, to be honest,” said Rewers. “It is absolutely a dream come true. It is one of those chapter moments in life where you are just so grateful and thankful. It has just been amazing to be a part of it all.”
To learn more about Crisis Nursery of Effingham County, phone 217-342-3000 or visit www.crisisnurseryofeffingham.com.
The Crisis Nursery accepts donations, including clothing and supply donations. The Crisis Nursery is located at 924. N. Merchant in Effingham.