Lowe’s ‘Heroes Program’ helps Walter Lawson Children’s Home

Walter Lawson Children's Home Administrator Theo Brandel and Assistant Administrator Melissa Thornbloom welcomed Lowes volunteers to rebuild 11 old and inefficient closets Oct. 11 Heroes from Lowe's included: Antonette Gonzalez, Tricia Mielke, Chris Palmer, Kim Boreen, Kelly Rossi, Vicky Knight, Beth Brohaugh, Chris Cunningham, Tara Lee, Ken Pflieder, Jim Boreen, Rich Loiselle and Larry Mix, the parent of a resident.  Photo by Daniel Jenkins
Walter Lawson Children's Home Administrator Theo Brandel and Assistant Administrator Melissa Thornbloom welcomed Lowes volunteers to rebuild 11 old and inefficient closets Oct. 11 Heroes from Lowe's included: Antonette Gonzalez, Tricia Mielke, Chris Palmer, Kim Boreen, Kelly Rossi, Vicky Knight, Beth Brohaugh, Chris Cunningham, Tara Lee, Ken Pflieder, Jim Boreen, Rich Loiselle and Larry Mix, the parent of a resident. Photo by Daniel Jenkins

• ‘Renewing the commitment to the community’

By Susan Johnson

Copy Editor

Who says big-box stores don’t care about their community? Last Sunday, Oct. 11, Lowe’s proved how much they care by implementing their own
Heroes Program,

unique to Lowe’s, to benefit Walter Lawson Children’s Home in Loves Park.

Walter Lawson Children’s Home, 1820 Walter Lawson Drive, a non-profit care facility, has been in existence since 1971. It serves 96 severely-handicapped people ages 16 months to 44 years old. The majority of them are on respirators with tracheals, or confined to wheelchairs. None of them speak. They are served by two very dedicated women—Aministrator Theo Brandel and Assistant Administrator Melissa Thornbloom.

“I have been here 33 years,” said Thornbloom. “We had several Lowe’s workers here from the Heroes Program. We had parents and grandparents here. We still need to add components to the closets. There is always a need for specialized equipment.”

Tara Lee, Lowe’s coordinator, explained about the Heroe’s program:
Lowe’s puts it on to help a nonprofit organization, to assist them with time, labor and materials. We do it as a company. … We visit them and find out what their needs are. They needed closet doors, closet organizers, and the building needs to be painted.

Lowe’s found suppliers in the community to aid them. Lee continued:
Valspar Corporation is donating the paint. Rubbermaid Newell donated 11 closet organizeers. Janesville Millwork donated 11 custom-made, bi-fold closet doors. We’re donating labor and time from our store.

This special work-day of service began at 8 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 11. Volunteers who helped in the day’s work included: Blue Cross Blue Shield employees (10), parents and grandparents of Walter Lawson residents (seven), and Lowe’s volunteers (20). And in place of Loves Park Mayor Darryl Lindberg, Ald. John Pruitt (Ward 2) attended to lend a hand.

Lee explained the purpose of the Heroes Program is
to give back to the community.  This is a big deal because we are new to the community [Loves Park and Machesney Park], but when you are a box store, people tend to look at you as though you’re cold, but we’re not. We live in this community, and Lowe’s recognizes that. They support the people in the community. That’s a big thing. We are not a corporation that doesn’t care. We are a corporation with a big heart. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t care.

What impressed her specifically about Walter Lawson?


When I went and looked at different agencies and people that needed help,

said Lee,
I was most impressed by the two women that run Walter Lawson. They’ve been there close to 30 years apiece. You can’t work at an organization like Walter Lawson unless you love what you do. They are literally raising these children because they love [them] so much. I was so impressed by their dedication. It reminded me of the phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ They are doing it by themselves. I couldn’t think of a better service than to come in and help Walter Lawson, and they can’t possibly be making that much. They really are in need.

Walter Lawson’s still needs help to finish what they started. The home still needs more baskets for the closets, ceiling tiles throughout the building and volunteers for painting the exterior. For monetary donations, or if your group or organization would like to donate time, contact Tara Lee at (815) 654-5130 at Lowe’s of Machesney Park, 9700 N. Alpine Road.

Staff Writer Jon Bystrom contributed to this article.

From the October 14-20, 2009 issue

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