Rockford's west side has been without one childcare center for five months, but now that's changed. It's all thanks to one man who makes a living fighting fires, and who is now giving back to Rockford in a different way.
"I was just shocked completely. I didn't really know what to do," says Gina Meeks.
There have been lots of changes in Meeks' family's life since she found out that Circles of Learning Childcare Center, the daycare she brought her kids to, closed this past June.
"I can no longer work full-time, whereas when I had Circles I could," said Meeks.
Hundreds of other area families like the Meeks had to make adjustments, too. That's when Rod George stepped in.
"I was raised here on the west side, so I care about my community here."
Rod has experience in caring for his community. He's a 22-year veteran firefighter with the Rockford Fire Department. He saw a need for childcare services on the northwest side of town.
"I wanted to do something, and I did." said George.
Rod now rents the former Circles of Learning building and gave it a much needed face-lift, with new kitchen appliances and emergency lighting. He said it cost him $40,000 to do all this, now "Kidz Will B Kids" is finally open.
"We're ready to take back all the kids that were in this area--even the ones that have gone to the outlying centers. They can come back home now." said George
20 kids are currently enrolled, and there's room for plenty more. Gina Meeks hopes to bring her kids back here too.
"I'm just happy that someone stepped up to bring it back open for us moms," said Meeks.
Rod said he's ready to help, whether that's as a firefighter or as a daycare owner.
"It's kind of my own nature. That's what we do for a living. We help the public and so this just a transition of helping the public."
There's still a way the community can help. Rod is accepting monetary donations as well as new or gently used toys to help fill his classroom. You can take the donations to 2907 N. Main Street or contact Rod directly at (815)-713-6900.