Help centers for sexual abuse victims plan to move into Civic Center

Edward Cox, Assistant Web Editor

Two nonprofit organizations plan to relocate their Evanston offices to the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, where they will offer free services to victims of sexual abuse.

City Council authorized the city manager to carry out the lease agreement Jan. 13, allowing employees of Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault and Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County to use the same space near the city’s health department on the ground floor of the center, 2100 Ridge Ave.

Although the groups were initially seeking to lease the city space for free during an Administration and Public Works Committee meeting in July, the city negotiated a $250 monthly rent for the space. The organizations plan to move into the 272 square foot office after signing a lease agreement with the city. 

“I try to save money wherever I can,” said Jim Heunink, executive director of NCASA. “It would have been wonderful if the city (rented) the space for free, but I also understand the city has bills to pay.”

Both organizations in Evanston have worked with each other in the past, said Mark Parr, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Center.

NCASA decided to move out of its current YWCA Northshore offices after the women’s organization notified NCASA the space may not be available any longer. The Arlington Heights, Ill. based organization has been looking at the city space for a couple of years, Heunink said.

Once NCASA moves into the Civic Center, the organization will likely expand its Evanston satellite location staff from two to three people using funding from the city’s Mental Health Board, Heunink said. Staff members provide counseling services to victims of sexual abuse. The organization sends counselors to Saint Francis Hospital in emergency situations involving sexual assault victims.

Children’s Advocacy Center chose the Civic Center as its new location because of its accessibility to residents, Parr said. Its Evanston offices are currently located at Family Focus, 2010 Dewey Ave. The center has served 26 clients since July.

The services the advocacy center provides include collaborating with law enforcement on sexual abuse cases and providing help to families throughout the course of those cases. In sexual abuse cases, NCASA has supported victims of abuse at the Cook County courthouse in Skokie, Heunink said.

NCASA may spread the word about its new location in April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Heunink said. The organization is a member of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and has offices throughout the northwest suburbs of Cook County.

The offices planned for the organizations are being painted, the surrounding area is being renovated and reorganization inside the Civic Center opened up space to lease, said Suzette Robinson, public works director.

Ald. Delores Holmes (5th), a former director of Family Focus, voted to rent the space to the two organizations at the Administration and Public Works committee meeting.

“I know these are needs in the Evanston community and other communities,” Holmes said. “I always think to have these services available for residents is always a positive.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @EdwardCox16