ROGERS PARK — A benefactor who for now will remain anonymous has emerged to buy the home of El Ruisenor Learning Center, a day care that was on the verge of foreclosure and eviction last year, and allow the business to remain open.
"It's great news that we're able to save the day care and stay open in the community," said Jorge Ortiz, 32, whose mother, Maria Calvillo, founded El Ruisenor.
When the $2,500 mortgage payments became too much to bear, Ortiz, Calvillo and their supporters petitioned the bank to forgive their debts. They protested and spoke publicly about how their business had become a neighborhood institution that should be preserved.
But the bank wouldn't negotiate — and Calvillo feared the sheriff would come knocking with a notice of eviction at any moment, snuffing out her life's work.
"Unfortunately, it wasn't due to our organization or the pressure on the bank," Ortiz said. "They did not budge."
Instead, a "close friend" of the family stepped in to buy the home at 7462 N. Ridge Blvd. from Nationwide Advantage Mortgage Company for about $250,000, Calvillo said.
The friend, who Calvillo said wished to remain unidentified for now, plans to rent the single-family home back to the day care.
"We were fortunate enough to have a close friend that helped us out," said Ortiz, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "We were able to save it, but the situation won't be the same for a lot of other people who don't have that friend with the money or the credit."
Calvillo said the benefactor's generosity would be an example for the kids she takes care of, "teaching the children to do something for others."
"These kids are so very special," she said.
To celebrate the good news, El Ruisenor plans to throw block party along North Hoyne Avenue from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on April 26.
The party will also mark the day care's 10th anniversary in Rogers Park.
"My mom, she's an amazing woman," Ortiz said. "The example that she's given everyone in terms of fighting for what you believe in, in terms of doing things right, she's just an unbelievable woman.
"She never gave up — she never gave up hope."