Restoring St. Elizabeth Center a Lent Effort
Tom Graceffa (left) gets Bishop David Malloy and Paul Logli set up to remove old screws and caulk holes in a clothing room downstairs at St. Elizabeth Catholic Community Center in Rockford. The Joes group already had installed pipe racks from the ceilings and new racks on the walls.(Observer photo by Amanda Hudson)
It took a few good men " Tom Graceffa, Paul Logli and Bishop David Malloy " to remove the empty wooden cross that was hung in the gym at St. Elizabeth Catholic Community Center. Plans are to find a large crucifix to replace it, and to secure it much higher on the wall. (Observer photo by Amanda Hudson)
Gordon Grubb (left) and Chris Graceffa remove the outside screen from a circulation fan that needed to be repaired. (Observer photo by Amanda Hudson)
Michael LaLoggia uses a power saw as he works to build shelves for a storage room off the gymnasium at St. Elizabeth center. (Observer photo by Amanda Hudson)
Jay Ginestra (left) and Joseph Altenhoff work to build a shelf for a storage room at St. Elizabeth Catholic Community Center in Rockford. (Observer photo by Amanda Hudson)
By Amanda Hudson, News editor
April 25, 2014

ROCKFORD—Bishop David Malloy found a couple of hours on April 5 to work with the St. Joseph and Sons group at St. Elizabeth Catholic Community Center on South Main Street, here.

Saying that the bishop’s presence “gives us some credibility,” project coordinator Jim Strey adds that “I think all of us feel it is very worthwhile and fulfilling to participate here. … We all bring something different (to the work) and collectively, we can do some really nice things.”

Planned Projects

-- Clean office floors; clean and polish floors in three downstairs rooms
-- Remove and recycle chest freezer, incinerator and piping
-- Clean, sort and recycle items in basement shop area, storage areas and garage
-- Restore fresh air supply lines to bathrooms, small offices
-- Repair air circulation throughout the building (multiple work items involved)
-- Repair broken toilets, drinking fountains, sump pump
-- Replace countertops and sinks in bathrooms; fix faucets
-- Put up clothes bars and shelving in clothing room
-- Add ceiling insulation in office
-- Re-establish electrical circuit in shop area
-- Reattach handrail on stairs
-- Repair, repaint, anchor and light a statue of Mary
-- Build shelving in several storage rooms
-- Scrub stairway treads, risers and paint
-- Repair lock on exterior door and install an interior door
-- Build noise fence around freezer condenser
-- Paint door frames, step faces, wall trim and some walls
-- Fix or replace floor cleaning machine for west building and add a machine for east building
-- Replace tables and chairs
-- Replace exit lights with new LED lights
-- Buy and install new sound system in gym
-- Add new high-efficiency lighting and fixtures to the gym
-- Reorganize and modernize the kitchen
-- Bring in food professionals to set up and teach good patterns for delivery flow, storage, preparation and serving
-- Buy crucifixes for rooms without them
-- Find and mount large crucifix in gym
-- Install new water heater
-- Create a new office downstairs in the old building
-- Refit and replace window air conditioning units in upstairs office
-- Remove a downstairs wall
-- Take care of “multiple electrical things”
-- Build a chapel — in 2015

The “Joes” began working on numerous projects at the center on Saturday of the first weekend of Lent.

They continued working on the weekends that followed, calling it their Lenten project.

They estimate they’ll have donated 500 man hours through April 5, with more to come. (See project list, right)

As often happens with repair work, some plans changed as they went along. For example, the job of cleaning the tile in the gym evolved when the Joes discovered terrazzo flooring underneath. Suddenly, they were removing the tile and stripping and refinishing the original floor.

Staff at St. Elizabeth Center made lunch for the Joes each Saturday to thank them for their time and work, says Patrick Winn, director of Catholic Charities.

“They are helping us restore St. Elizabeth Center to be the best ambassador of the Church to the neighborhood and the community.”