Anonymous donor pays shelter bills
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter October 26, 2013 11:14AM
Clara Kirk stands outside Clara's Place in the 1600 block of West 63rd Street in West Englewood. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 28, 2013 6:53AM
An anonymous donor has paid more than $30,000 of gas bills owed by the struggling operator of two West Englewood shelters for battered and homeless women, and the gas has been turned back on.
Peoples Gas had cut off the gas Oct. 16, after warning and meeting with the operators of Clara’s Place — one of two shelters owned by Clara Kirk’s charity, the West Englewood United Organization.
The 72-year-old was scrambling to pay the utility $21,026.74 in bills owed for the building in the 1600 block of West 63rd Street. She also owed about $11,000 in bills for the short-term women’s shelter she runs just blocks away.
Kirk says she got a call from the anonymous donor Thursday night.
“I am very, very relieved, and I want to say thank you to all of my supporters, all of my donors, all of my friends and all the people that cared for me,” Kirk said Saturday. “Prayers, whatever people did. I didn’t know people cared so much. I was able to find that people cared more than I knew that they cared.
“The women and children here at Clara’s Place say thank you.”
Peoples Gas spokeswoman Jennifer Block said the gas was restored on Friday.
Kirk, a retired Chicago Board of Education employee with no current income, had said Thursday she was worried her two shelters. Clara’s Place is a long-term home to 19 women and 23 children, including a 4-month-old girl.
After years of success with grant applications — followed by problems with liens from the city and the IRS — Kirk said she needed help: “We lost our grants, and we don’t have money at this time. We need a grant writer. I don’t know how to do this. I need help.”
Kirk also received calls from people to help with grant-writing.