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Last Thursday, Deborah Clark was on duty as usual: Just after 3 p.m. she parked her pickup truck at the corner of Lee Street and Florence Avenue, unpacked her hand-held stop sign and her little dog, Buddy, and became crossing guard par excellence.
“How’re you doing?” she greeted everyone crossing the street, most of whom hugged her and greeted her by name. Many stopped to pet Buddy before crossing on to their errands.
“Have a nice weekend,” she called, as they left her protection.
Ms. Clark has worked for the City for some 13 years, she told the RoundTable, as a crossing guard for School District 65 and at the Farmers’ Market. She also works a few hours each week at King Lab School.
For nearly two decades she lived with a friend in an apartment on Dodge Ave., with their son and their two daughters. He worked for Lester Crown, who owns the apartment complex, she said.
Shortly after the City inspected units in the apartment complex and cited the owner for several violations, Ms. Clark said, she received notice from Mr. Crown that she was to vacate the premises. Mr. Farr, she said, will be living elsewhere, but, not being welcome to join him, she faces homelessness. “I don’t have the money to move,” she told the RoundTable.
The families whose children she greeted and protected daily over the years now want to return the favor.
Families at Washington School have rallied around Ms. Clark, hoping to get her not just back on her feet but on the road to a better life.
“We love Deborah,” said Emily Erickson, one of those spearheading the effort. Gabrielle Aguilar said a potluck/fundraiser is planned for Nov. 12, and a $5 donation is requested from all who attend.
“We’re planning to present her then with what we’ve raised so far,” said Ms. Erickson, “and we want to help her further along.” They hope to connect Ms. Clark with additional resources, such as a LINK card, affordable housing and literacy classes.
More about the potluck/fundraiser will be posted on the RoundTable website, evanstonroundtable.com.