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YWCA of the Sauk Valley hunting for new home

Limestone property one of sites nonprofit is considering

STERLING – The YWCA of the Sauk Valley is looking for a building that better suits its needs, and the Limestone property in Rock Falls is among the sites it is considering.

The YWCA has outgrown its space and has been putting out feelers for a couple of years in Sterling and Rock Falls.

“Several architects have reviewed the situation, and our board doesn’t think it’s worth it to try to reconfigure it to our needs,” Executive Director Rebecca Munoz-Ripley said.

One of the prospective sites is the Limestone site at 200 W. First St., along the riverfront in Rock Falls. The city included the YWCA in its application for the $250,000 U.S. EPA Brownfields Grant it is seeking to clean up the property:

“The former Limestone Building site has been designated as a potential building site for a new YWCA of the Sauk Valley facility. ... The facility would also provide legal and medical advocacy as well as counseling and support groups for survivors of domestic abuse. The scenic Rock River view provided by the former Limestone Building site would be a perfect backdrop for such an important facility.”

The nonprofit declined to talk about any other sites it could be eyeing in either city.

“We’re not in a big hurry to leave,” Munoz-Ripley said. “For us, it’s more about finding the right place in our price range where we can better serve the community.”

The current building doesn’t meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, making it difficult for the YWCA to truly serve everyone in the community.

A better building also could allow additional programming, Munoz-Ripley said.

The YWCA has been at 412 First Ave. since its founding in January 1924. Founders Dr. Jane Reid Keefer and her husband Dr. John Keefer donated the building, which was grandfathered in when the ADA was passed.

An award bearing Reid Keefer’s name is presented at each year’s Women of Achievement Luncheon, the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser. The award is given for achievements in the medical, legal, social services, education and nonprofit fields.

The Keefers, in 1909, also were two of the 13 founding physicians at the Whiteside Public Hospital, which later became Community General Hospital, and then CGH Medical Center.

The YWCA provides domestic violence and sexual assault programs in Whiteside and Lee counties. It also does work in the areas of anti-bullying, diversity training, immigrant services, girls empowerment and women’s career services.

In 2017, the YWCA expanded its base in Dixon, moving from 115 W. First St. to a larger building at 98 S. Galena Ave. The move created space for additional programs, particularly in the areas of career and financial skills.

Finding help

The YWCA of the Sauk Valley has offices at 412 First Ave. in Sterling, and 98 S. Galena Ave. in Dixon. Staff can be reached at 815-625-0333.

The 24-hour hotline numbers are 815-626-7277 and 815-288-1011.

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