February 8, 2023 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Wheelhouse steps up to help community

Abbie Layden-Rogiers and her husband Ryan Rogiers have always wanted to help the community.

The owners of The Wheelhouse in St. Joseph have found yet another way to serve their hometown.

When a customer told Layden-Rogiers about his grandchildren an idea to help the community was born.

The customer’s 10 year-old grandchild will be doing remote learning this upcoming fall.

The child will also be attending his two-year-old sibling’s daycare.

“We were having this conversation contemplating what all these parents would do this year, when all the daycares and babysitters are full and we started talking about other places opening their doors so kids have a place to go,” Layden-Rogiers said. “And then it was just a quick thought, I wonder if we could do that.”

That quick thought turned into a lot of thought and many conversations with many people.

Their insurance company cleared them to open up for remote learning this week.

Layden-Rogiers is currently asking people who are interested to let her know.

The Wheelhouse is not a licensed daycare but will run the program like an internet cafe.

Helping the community is important to both Ryan and Abbie.

“From the beginning we really tried to keep a deep sense of purpose attached to the idea of opening the restaurant,” Layden-Rogiers said. “I think a lot of people open a business, strictly to open a business, to have a lucrative venture.”
Layden-Rogiers said that while they want the business to be lucrative they also want to be of service to their community—a community they both love dearly.
“We have both traveled fairly extensively, and have both lived in several other cities and towns and states,” she said. “I think when you get to see so many other places in the world, it really does expand your awareness about what makes your hometown special.”

Abbie said they both have a genuine appreciation for the town they grew up in and the people in it.

“The people here, have been of service to us since we were children,” she said. “It’s a wonderful little town. If we can somehow to be an asset to this town, Shouldn’t we do that?”
The plan calls for the Wheelhouse to open their doors to students who need somewhere to go after school and work on homework or remote learning.
The kids will have their own table and chair which will be properly socially distanced and access to the Internet.

“We are keeping it as simple as possible for the time being,” she said. “It may evolve into something very different in the future but for now, it will simply be a place where students will work independently at their work space.”
Layden-Rogiers said they will talk to each parents who shows an interest individually to make sure it is a good fit for both parties.

They will be able to provide lunch or snacks for the children and masks are required when exiting or entering the resteraunt.

Layden-Rogiers said they need five students per session for it to be feasible economically. There will be a morning and afternoon session and the cost is $100 per week or $25 per day.
She is currently working on a fund to supply scholarships to families who have a financial need.

“We would love to be able to do this for free, but because restaurants have been hurt so badly this year, I am hoping this extra revenue will help us keep our doors open,” she said.

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