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Ameren Illinois Issues Fundraising Challenge for Dream Center Peoria

Speakers at a press conference
Kristin McHugh
Peoria Public Radio
Dream Center Peoria director Andy King, left, Ameren Illinois' Tucker Kennedy, middle, and Dream Center development director Brian Uhlenhopp, right, discuss the utility's fundraising challenge on May 30, 2019.

Ameren Illinois is issuing a challenge to supporters of Peoria’s Dream Center.

The utility is matching any gifts up to $35,000 total for the Dream Center’s expansion project through June 12.

The Dream Center launched its $1.7 million campaign to renovate two floors of its Hamilton Boulevard location in March. The shelter is designed to house up to 50 people per night. Director Andy King says it’s currently serving at least 80 people nightly.

Tucker Kennedy is with Ameren. He says a recent tour of the Dream Center cemented the utility’s “Homeless Shelter Two-Week Challenge.”

“We were struck by a statistic that we got that the average age of a homeless guest here in this shelter is 9-years-old," said Tucker.

Dream Center development director Brian Uhlenhopp says the ultimate goal is to bring a sense of stability to Peoria’s homeless population.

“Let’s not just put a band-aid on the problem. We don’t want to just be a safe place to spend the night. What we truly want to be (is) the reason people are re-entering stability,” said Uhlenhopp

The Dream Center has already raised $900,000 for the renovation. Director Andy Kennedy hopes phase one construction can start in August and be complete in time for winter. The $700,000 phase two includes a central kitchen and food storage for the shelter and youth programs. The kitchen will also serve as a teaching facility so residents can learn food preparation skills.

Contributions can be made online at dreamcenterpeoria.org or sent to Dream Center Peoria, Attention 4th Floor, 714 Hamilton Blvd, Peoria, IL 61603.

Kristin McHugh is an experienced radio journalist and nonprofit manager. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council.