Beyond the classroom

Beyond the classroom

The adventures of a Prairieland United Way student intern

by Julie Butler

When I reached out to Karen Walker at Prairieland United Way about working as an intern during the remainder of my time at Illinois College, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

From my understanding of former interns’ work, I knew that some focused on social media marketing and some wrote newsletters. Each person had a skill set that she was able to utilize to advance the organization.

When asked what I wanted to focus on for the semester, I answered as any eager learner would, that I wanted to do everything done previously. However, I also wanted to do something that I could call my own … which brings us here, to “The adventures of a Prairieland United Way student intern.”

In this series of articles, I visit community organizations with which the Prairieland United Way is affiliated to learn about the history of that organization, how it is run and how the organization helps the community.

The first organization I visited is the House of Worship, at 424 W. Court St., in Jacksonville. Two smaller programs funded by Prairieland United Way are the After School Program (ASP) and Just for Kids (JFK).

Missionary Ann Burries is the director of the House of Worship. The ASP has been a licensed program for 13 years and offers services to 20-25 students Monday through Friday from 2:30-5:30 p.m. The main goal of this program is to help students complete school assignments. Services and help for youth affected by bullying, Tuesday night Bible studies and lectures from the City of Jacksonville Police Department are all resources offered to the students. Before COVID-19, Burries and the staff also enjoyed taking students on Saturday field trips.

The Just For Kids program has classes that are tiered by age groups. For working parents, Community Child Care (CCC) is offered. CCC is available for children from 9 months old through 5 years old. Since these programs are intended to benefit low-income families, there is no charge for children between the ages of 3-5 years old. There is a small fee for children between 9 months to 2 years.

With the programs available through the House of Worship, there are screenings for health such as hearing, vision, nutrition and mental health. Burries also enjoys involving the parents or guardians. There are parent-teacher conferences, parents’ days (where parents/guardians can come see their child’s classroom) and parents can view student portfolios.

The second place that I learned about is the Presbyterian Church Day Care Center, located within First Presbyterian Church at 870 W. College Ave. in Jacksonville.

Kathy Fellhauer has been the director of the day care for 28 of the 50 years that the day care has been open.

Although the title insinuates that it is a day care, it actually is a school. Presbyterian Day Care Center has received the title of Gold Circle of Quality from ExceleRate Illinois (, and it is the only curriculum program in Jacksonville to receive this title, and was the first in downstate Illinois.

Right now, the facility is at full capacity with 110 students in 6 classrooms. The curriculum offered is creative and engages students in ways that encourage higher learning.

Students start as young as 6 weeks old and extend through 5th grade. The program is convenient for working parents, as the center is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, Monday through Friday.

Fellhauer explains that the program works so well because families always come first. The staff and teachers even have their own children in the programs, and the help offered increases co-worker longevity.

The House of Worship and the Presbyterian Church Day Care Center are amazing organizations in Jacksonville and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about them and the dedication that many have been putting toward these programs.

Please be on the lookout for my next column about “The adventures of a Prairieland United Way student intern.”

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