Project Sage is Family Matters' initiative to create a healthier, greener environment and to share its experience with parents, children and the community. The project was brought to life through the unbounded energy of Laura Reedy-Stukel, the first realtor in Elmhurst to earn an Eco-Broker certification and a Family Matters volunteer. One of Laura's goals for Project Sage is to create an annuity for Family Matters by saving Family Matters at least $1000 annually through reduced utility bills.
Laura Reedy-Stukel was a mentor to Prital, a Family Matters Teen Girls Program participant, in 1998. Laura and Prital became close friends and shared many important milestones, including Prital's college and graduate school graduations. In January 2008, Prital passed away from leukemia and in April of that same year, (on what would have been Prital's 28th birthday) Laura closed on her new Elmhurst home. One year later, (on Prital's 29th birthday) Laura received a phone call from the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, announcing that she was the 2009 winner of their Green Improvements Award. The award carried a cash prize of $2,500. In memory of Prital, Laura donated the full amount to Family Matters to launch the greening initiative, aptly named Project Sage.
Project Sage was inaugurated by an energy audit conducted by Green Dream Group. Funded by Laura’s donated prize earnings, the audit guided a cluster of committed children, parents and staff through an analysis of the building’s current energy efficiency level. Findings revealed several critical results. The most pressing among them were the need to insulate the building, retrofit the lighting system, and purchase a new boiler. The audit suggested that the current 30 year old boiler lacked the proper ventilation and potentially could leak hazardous carbon monoxide. A more efficient boiler would create a safer environment and cut Family Matters’ utility expenses.
Thanks to generous grants from Jason's Foods, the Community Action Committee of Hitachi High Technologies America, and the Hitachi Foundation, Family Matters was able to purchase a new boiler and make the necessary upgrades to the boiler room.
A volunteer crew, from the Home Depot at Lincoln and McCormick in Chicago, spent a day at Family Matters weatherizing the building. They installed nearly 100 CFL light bulbs, 5 rolls of insulating foam tape, 3 cans of "Great Stuff" insulating foam, 14 tubes of caulk, and 2 new dual-flush toilets. They also removed 3 wall A/C units that were leaking cold air in winter.
Family Matters has been fortunate to have so many partners in Project Sage. In addition to Home Depot, Kohler donated the toilets and Illinois Energy Windows & Siding donated and installed siding. Many individuals have made gifts of time and expertise as well as monetary donations.