Dynamic duo Denise Murphy, of Lake Forest, and Julia Sierks, of Lake Bluff, didn’t intend to launch an entiremovement when they attended a meeting together two years ago to learn about the House Of Peace shelter. The paddle tennis-playing friends merely were looking for a monetary donation opportunity.
Murphy, mother of three young children and Lake Forest High School girls tennis coach, wanted to honor her recently deceased father. Sierks was charged with finding a project for their family to support on behalf of her husband and three older children.
But they fell in love with the concept presented at that meeting – renovating an architecturally elegant 1904 building in Lake County and helping to break the vicious cycle of domestic violence for women and children immigrants. They decided to champion the cause, cementing a partnership that is even more powerful off the court than on.
Thus was born the movement that culminates in the next few weeks with the official opening of the House of Peace Shelter and the Chicago Platform Tennis Charities Tournament benefiting it.
Sierks’ and Murphy’s passion for the project quickly attracted others – friends, the LFHS athletes from the football, tennis and volleyball teams, college students home for summer break, families of students in Murphy’s tennis camps and more. Donations flowed in and volunteers labored on-site doing construction and decorating work. Eagle Scout Gerry Stemo of Grayslake made 12 beautiful trundle beds. Anyone and everyone was welcome to participate. The final product – a three-story home for at least 16, with warm, light-filled rooms, colorful quilts and original art on the walls – reflects the love poured into it by donors and volunteers.
The House Of Peace is beautiful! This welcoming haven should be the perfect venue to accomplish its’ important mission – helping women and children heal from domestic violence and develop skills to live independently and fully.
It’s a unique model for at least two reasons, the partners explain passionately during a recent tour.
“This is the only domestic violence facility in this region that caters to Latinas,” Sierks states. “Culturally specific programming means the women feel comfortable to stay and not return to the offender.”
Murphy adds, “Also, we will allow boys over age 12 to stay here with their mothers. If there is ever a way to break the cycle, it’s going to start with that 12 year-old boy!”
Their passion for this project first pulled in support from the paddle tennis community in September 2010, when 32 of Chicago’s top women paddle players adopted the House of Peace as the beneficiary of their “Fall Brawl.” Soon many of those women were traveling to Lake County from as far away as Oakbrook to provide additional support. Becoming the official charity benefiting from the annual tournament, which coincides with the opening of the shelter, couldn’t be more appropriate now.Following their passions on the court and off have led Murphy, Sierks and now the Chicago Platform Tennis community to help launch a most worthy cause.
Susan B. Noyes MakeItBetter.net is the brainchild of Susan B. Noyes, who practiced labor law at Sidley & Austin before deciding to lay down the law full-time with her six children instead. Her favorite time of the day is family dinner, despite her children’s constant misbehavior. Susan loves to network, build community, write and organize lots of moving pieces. Her motto: “A clean home is a wasted life.”
Checks can be made out to: Community Social Services –House of Peace , 914 8th Street, Waukegan, Il 60085 Attn: Aida Segura