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Daytime drop-in center set for downtown

CHAMPAIGN -- A new program starting this summer aims to help help those in need get back on their feet.
CHAMPAIGN -- A new program starting this summer aims to help help those in need get back on their feet. This is part of a new effort by C-U At Home.

A daytime drop-in center will open soon. We don't know exactly where it will be yet, since the lease hasn't been signed. But C-U At Home Executive Director Melany Jackson says that will happen in the next few weeks. The center will be the first of its kind in the area.

You don't have to look far to see people in need around Champaign. With no where else to turn, some end up on the streets. They can find shelter at night at places like the Times Center. But after that, there's not really a place for them to go during the day. That's about to change.

"I am so excited," said Jackson.

People we spoke with say they think it will be good for the community.

"It would give them a place to stay, keep them out of trouble, keep them off the streets," said Joshua Carter, who lives in Champaign. "I know the weather's about to be nice and it would keep them out of the heat for the summertime."

Jackson says a downtown location was ideal to keep it close to people who need it most.  

"It's a great location for folks who are already on foot, bicycles, bus transportation around the area," said Jackson.

"Downtown Champaign, you run into a lot of people that are disadvantaged in society and things of that nature," said Carter. "I think that would be a perfect location."

The center will be more than just a building. It's meant to be a new opportunity, where people can better themselves and get their lives back on track.

"We'll have staff and volunteers ready to just be a friend, be someone they can trust," said Jackson.

Jackson says there will be a big open room with space for people to sit. There will also be computers and phones people can use. And, as Jackson said, the most important part will be case managers and counselors ready to help people there. She hopes they'll be ready to open by the first part of June.

This isn't the only big project in the works for C-U At Home this spring. After this year's "One Winter Night" fundraiser, Jackson says they had three initiatives. The daytime drop-in center was one. Another was a recovery house, which now has two men living in it. And the third is a family home, which is being remodeled now. A single mother will be moving in next month. Jackson says she's grateful to people in the community who have supported all their efforts.
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