The emergency room at Silver Cross Hospital will soon become a veterans clinic. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: January 27, 2014 12:31PM
A year ago Midge Pittman was trying to raise $6 million before the end of 2012 and counting on a miracle to make it happen.
The miracle didn’t happen, but Pittman still has faith. In 2013, she plans to launch another capital campaign for the fledgling social service agency called Shepherd’s Place.
“Our hope survives. We certainly have not given up on it,” Pittman said last week when asked if she still would like to put Shepherd’s Place in the vacated Silver Cross Hospital campus.
Shepherd’s Place has been started, although it is a small version of the vision Pittman expressed a year ago when she was trying to generate the money that Silver Cross officials wanted to see to show that her foundling organization would have the financial resources to follow through on its ambitious goals. Pittman was asking that Silver Cross donate its vacated hospital building. Shepherd’s Place planned to provide long-term counseling, education and even living quarters for battered women, homeless people, drug abusers and others desperately in need of a change of life.
Last week, Shepherd’s Place donated coats, scarves and some spending money to 16 moms and 17 children at the Guardian Angel Home in Joliet, which were certainly welcome gifts as an icy Christmas approached.
Pittman said Shepherd’s Place also provides a care ministry out of the Shekina Full Gospel Church, where one of the organization’s board members, Wanda Onstadt, is pastor.
But Shepherd’s Place still is under development, so to speak, and does not have a place of its own, Shepherd’s Place has an impressive board of directors that includes among others: Rev. Herbert Brooks, speaker of the Will County Board and pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church; well known Realtor Virginia Ferry; and local publicist Bonnie Winfrey.
“Everybody on the board is a Christian believer, and Christian believers always have hope,” Brooks said. “I think Midge has a wonderful idea and vision for this ministry. I don’t know if Silver Cross Hospital is the place for it. But it is a wonderful vision, and I believe she will find a place.”
There is no indication that Silver Cross again would consider the hospital over to Pittman, although she has not given up.
“I drive by there, and every time I see the lights on I see there’s still hope,” Pittman said. A year ago, she said Silver Cross was planning to demolish buildings, which did not happen. Pittman hopes it never does: “We still believe that’s where we need to be.”
Silver Cross would not comment on Pittman’s plans but issued a statement saying that the Healthy Community Commission formed by the hospital to find future uses for the campus, “remains committed to working with the city of Joliet to find the best use for the rest of the former hospital campus while improving the quality of life for the residents of the east side of Joliet.”