For 30 years SCARCE has been caring for the Earth’s natural resources and building sustainable communities, and guiding the group through it all has been one familiar face.
Kay McKeen started the nonprofit in 1990 after DuPage County asked her to create a program about recycling and education. Back then it was known as SCRAP, but changed to SCARCE in 1995 after Illinois asked her to expand the program statewide.
“SCARCE has an acronym: school, community, assistance, recycling, compost, and education,” said McKeen. “But it’s about resources being scarce. If kids don’t have books the literacy rate is never going to improve. We’re going to keep kids from being successful if they don’t have books at home. So it kind of works together.”
For over 28 years Glen Ellyn was home to SCARCE, and though the nonprofit was successful, recently the scope of their mission outgrew the 7,000 square foot office.
Just a couple of weeks before the shelter-in-place order went into effect in Illinois, SCARCE packed its bags and made the move to their new location at 800 S Rohlwing Road in Addison.
“So the last truck moved things here on that Friday of March. And Saturday at five came the shelter-in-place,” said McKeen. “So then volunteers couldn’t come and staff couldn’t come so my husband, daughter, and I worked like crazy.”
In June SCARCE’s team came back together, and started building out their new space.
The new facility is nearly triple the size of the old one, but still offers the same things SCARCE is known for like books, records, toys, and school materials, all of which are at a reduced price.
Teachers are frequent visitors because of the wide range of school items SCARCE offers like binders, art supplies, and more.
There are also some new things at swimming around at SCARCE. For example, a classroom filled with ideas of how to turn waste into new items presents SCARCE with an opportunity to provide educational tours of the space.
Once the pandemic is over, SCARCE also hopes to teach students in person ways to be more environmentally friendly. For the time being they’ll use their media room to teach remotely.
One of the lessons they’ll cover is energy efficiency. As you’ll see as I start to pedal, some light bulbs require more energy than others. The lesson here is you want to buy light bulbs that require less energy because it’s better for the environment.
No Signs Of Slowing Down
McKeen will turn 70-years-old this year, but has no plans of retiring anytime soon.
“John F. Kennedy was president when I was in middle school, [and] he said ‘ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’. If we can help the environment so our kids can have clean air, what could be better than that?,” said McKeen.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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