MONTICELLO, Ill. — Dubson Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Inc., the Trane Comfort Specialist in Monticello, and the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program announced their partnership during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October to provide and install three furnaces and three air conditioners for Willow Tree Missions — a total value of more than $75,000.
Willow Tree Missions — a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating violence in Piatt County and building stronger families by providing victims temporary shelter, advocacy, legal assistance, and counseling — needs three new heating and cooling systems to condition the first floor of its new 26,000+ square-foot space at 100 E. Washington St in Monticello.
In 2021, Willow Tree Missions purchased the former dance studio, which was vacant for more than three years, in the downtown business district for its growing Resale Shop.
“Willow Tree Missions is grateful to be able to invest in our community by purchasing this 140-year-old building and contributing to the economic vitality of the City of Monticello — from generating tax revenue through an occupied building on the square to attracting additional visitors to not only the Resale Shop but surrounding businesses,” said Jill Maxey, executive director of Willow Tree Missions.
The current location, which has 6,000 square feet, is at 351 W Monroe St in Monticello. Proceeds from sales of donated items, such as clothing, home goods, and furniture, at the Resale Shop help fight domestic violence in Piatt County.
Resale shoppers will benefit by having a larger store to peruse for more deals,” said Maxey. “And our Piatt County neighbors in need will benefit by having safe and supportive spaces to seek care.”
The new Willow Tree Missions space includes three large rooms totaling 10,000+ square feet on the first floor, as well as a basement. On the second floor, there is room for future program space and two apartments for transitional housing for individuals leaving abusive relationships.
“After touring the space, the need for new heating and cooling equipment at Willow Tree Missions was apparent — and it was an opportunity for our family business, along with Trane and the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program, to make a positive and lasting difference for our neighbors,” said Bryce Dubson, owner of Dubson Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Inc. “Currently, the first floor of the building only has one aging air conditioner, which is not working properly due to a refrigerant leak, and two aging furnaces — not nearly enough equipment to condition the space efficiently and effectively.”
Trane is donating three S9X1 (120,000 BTU) single-stage, ECM blower motor furnaces with an AFUE of 95% and three XR13 (5 ton) single-stage air conditioners with a SEER of 13. The Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program is covering significant material costs for the installation. Dubson Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, an Ameren Illinois Program Ally, is donating their labor and expertise — installing the three heating and cooling systems.
“This heating and cooling combination from Trane will help not only provide optimal comfort for resale shoppers, but also peace of mind for Willow Tree Missions as it looks to save on energy bills throughout all seasons,” said Dubson. “We are pleased to install equipment from the leader in heating and cooling, at no charge, and with assistance from the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program to help further the mission of Willow Tree to eliminate violence among our Piatt County neighbors — it’s The Dubson Difference”
“The assistance from Dubson Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, the Dubson family, Trane, and the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program is outstanding and our largest gift to date! It is just the boost we need mentally for ourselves and physically for the building to keep going,” said Maxey. “We hope this selfless gift will inspire others in our community to invest and partner with us as we strive to make this project a reality.”
Even with the generosity of Dubson Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Trane, and the Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program, Willow Tree Missions still needs community assistance to complete the project — financially for remaining material costs, such as sheet metal and ductwork, and labor from additional contractors, like electricians, plumbers and roofers. To further complicate the project, Willow Tree Missions must complete a lead abatement project with a price tag of more than $40,000 before the installation of two of the heating and cooling systems.
The replacement of the furnaces and air conditioners is among several projects underway for Willow Tree Missions. The nonprofit is also remodeling its new space — from replacing flooring to installing a new fire alarm system, which is required before the transitional housing is available for violence victims.
“We have helped 50 people and their children in crisis this year alone,” said Maxey. “Normally, the Resale Shop supports 80% of the mission! However, this is a year of transition where we are relying heavily on our community to continue to support our mission with one-time renovation improvement funds and operational costs as well as applying for numerous grants until we can open the Resale Shop.”
To learn about and donate to Willow Tree Missions, visit https://willowtreemissions.org/. The Resale Shop can be reached at 217.762.2350. For Piatt County residents, the Domestic Violence or Family Service Center can be reached at 217.631.1018.
First observed in October 1981 as a national “Day of Unity,” Domestic Violence Awareness Month is held each October to unite advocates across the nation in their efforts to end domestic violence. To learn more, visit https://www.thehotline.org/stakeholders/domestic-violence-awareness-month/.