About Us


To empower families to live in dignity and healthy independence.

To provide housing and supportive services to foster the independence of homeless women with children and at-risk women with children.

MERCY Communities is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing the crisis of family homelessness. We help homeless and at-risk women with children find the resources they need to provide a safe place for themselves and their families.

Since 1999 we have served roughly 1000 individuals (moms and their children). MERCY Communities has grown from providing 10 units of housing in 1999 to 26 units in 2016. In fiscal year 2017, MERCY Communities housed and supported 52 mothers with 101 children.  

Meet our staff and contact us.

The History of the Starfish

Why a Starfish?

A young man walked down a deserted beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a woman picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. He gazed in wonder as she stooped again to throw the small starfish from the sand into the water.

“Woman, why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?” The woman explained that the starfish would die if left in the sand in the morning sun. “But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish on each of them,” exclaimed the young man. “How can you hope to make any difference?”

The woman looked down at the small starfish in her hand. As she gently tossed it into the safety of the sea she said quietly, “I made a difference to this one.”

Board of Directors


Nancy Eckert Martin

Vice Presidents

Jamie Stone

Michael Kos


Danielle Hunt

Sr. Marilyn Jean Runkel, OP

Past President                                                                    
Vickie Evans


  • Sarah Adcock
  • Jeff Cox
  • Robert T. Hall
  • Pat McGuigan Hubbell
  • Bethany Hunter
  • Ryan Levi
  • Jennifer Grady-Paswater
  • Tracey Smith, DNP
  • Dennis Wilkinson
  • Joan Queen (Honorary Board Member)
  • Joelle Knoles (Honorary Board Member)

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Item Donations

Donations may be dropped off on TUESDAYS AND THURSDAYS from 8 am - 4:30 p.m. Because of our small staff size, please call ahead at 217-753-1358 to make sure someone is here to accept your donation. We appreciate your support!

Wish List:

  • Monetary contributions
  • Gift cards (grocery, Walmart, Target)
  • Large kitchen trash cans
  • Bathroom towels/wash cloths
  • Kitchen towel sets
  • Wall clocks
  • Silverware
  • Mops, buckets, brooms & dust pans
  • Floor & table lamps
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish washing soap
  • Diapers
  • Household paper products: Kleenex, toilet paper, paper towels
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Shelving (bookshelves, laundry, etc.)
  • Toddler beds
  • Crib sheets / twin sheets / full sheets
  • Blankets / New bed pillows
  • Mattress covers

We accept these items in almost new or gently used condition:

  • Kitchen tables and full chair sets
  • Coffee tables
  • End tables
  • Metal bed frames 
  • Kitchen carts/microwave carts
  • Clothing dressers—large and small
  • Pots, pans, utensils, dishes
  • Adult, age appropriate (20-40 y.o.) women's clothing
  • Kid's clothing-boys and girls

Items we CANNOT accept:

  • Mattresses/box springs
  • Couches/loveseats/recliners
  • Entertainment centers
  • TVs, computers, electronics
  • Microwaves or kitchen appliances
  • Used pillows
  • Pack-n-plays, carseats, cribs older than 1 year
  • Dirty or damaged Items
  • Luggage