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Fund-raiser for Mary’s Mission set for Saturday

Mary Lacey Waukegan operates Mary's Mission. | News-Sun file

Mary Lacey of Waukegan and operates Mary's Mission. | News-Sun file

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Transportation for the Mary’s Mission fund-raiser to be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Greater Mount Olive Church of God in Christ, 1039 Bonner Ave., Aurora, is available via coach bus. The bus will leave at 4 p.m. Saturday from Greater St. James Temple Church of God in Christ, 2131 Wright Ave., North Chicago.

Cost for round-trip is $15.

For more information, call Dr. Mary Lacey at (847) 623-2136.

Donations may also be made to the mission c/o Greater Mt. Olive Church, 1039 Bonner Ave., Aurora, IL 60505.

Updated: December 24, 2012 1:18AM

Mary’s Mission, 642 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., on Waukegan’s South Side opened 20 years ago and, like the homeless men and women it serves, it struggles to survive from day to day, season to season.

Grant money, always spotty, dried up long ago, but founder Mary Lacey, a former foster mom and gospel singer who once entertained First Lady Betty Ford, persists, while the mission subsists entirely on charitable donations.

Twelve of the mission’s 35 beds are filled and Lacey expects more as the weather turns colder.

“I can’t close,” Lacey said. “I’ve been called to do this work. We just have to raise the money.”

Some days, the mission, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ, sends men out to stand at storefronts and solicit donations. Food is purchased with various state-provided Link cards and residents can do their laundry and make phone calls. Lacey hopes to make a dent in the mission’s $167,000 mortgage with a fund-raiser to be held at Greater Mount Olive Church of God in Christ in Aurora on Saturday, Oct. 27. Gospel recording artists and choirs will perform during the event. Those from the Lake County area who want to attend can take a round-trip by bus for $15.

Toussaint Robenson, 54, who has experienced bouts of homelessness since 2008, said he was directed to Mary’s by his church.

“I had no money, but she took me in with open arms,” Robenson said. “Dr. Lacey just accepts you.”

The mission, which offers programs including addiction recovery meetings, skills training and church services, is like “a home environment,” Robenson said.

Lacey said she continues to see men and women who are veterans and many who have criminal convictions or who return from jail or prison with nowhere else to go.

“Mary’s Mission is about men building bridges over troubled waters,” said Pastor Todd Gordon, founder of the Waukegan-based City of Miracles ministry, who is assisting Lacey with the fund-raiser. “If you want to restore a community, you restore the men in a community. Some of the men at the mission have had no opportunity, no chance to build a better life.”

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