After looking into the possibility of taking a Greyhound back, the group has determined that the best course of action is to stay in Chicago until Tuesday morning. They will depart on United flight 528, leaving Chicago O'Hare at 9:30am and arriving at Logan airport at 12:41pm.
Until then, the group is staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Palatine, IL. The phone # is 847-934-4900.
We held an impromptu parents meeting at the church today at 12:30, after seeing how many parents from the youth group were in attendance at the 11:00 service. Apologies to parents who didn't know about the meeting - it was a very spontaneous decision. Parents who were at this meeting arranged to call all parents who were not at this meeting to relay information. Also, this entry here will contain everything you need to know.
The chaperones are charging hotel (roughly $20 per person per night), food, and clothing expenses to their credit cards, and these expenses will all be figured out when the group returns. At the meeting today, parents committed to reimbursing chaperones for all of these expenses and will likely just divide up the costs evenly once it is all figured out. We recognize that there are some families for whom the additional cost is a financial burden, and anyone who needs assistance will be covered by the Youth Group fundraising budget. A number of parents at today's meeting also generously offered to have their children get cash from the ATM and share it with anyone who has run out. These kids will keep track of reimbursements as necessary. Of course, as I said above, chaperones are charging meals etc to their credit cards, but some parents felt that kids having at least few dollars cash on hand would be nice.
The report from Bev, Richard, and Kate, all of whom I talked with on the phone today multiple times, is that the kids are in good spirits, better-rested after sleeping in comfortable hotel beds last night, and are being well-fed. Thanks to help from Rev. Edmund and Susan Gonzalez (Ben Bauer’s wife), the group connected with the UU church in Chicago who is helping them to arrange for caterers for future meals. A clothing run to TJ Maxx or Marshalls is imminent, and the plan is to get underwear, t-shirts, and socks for all who need them, as well as fabric pens to decorate the new shirts! Also, anyone who needs long pants or warmer shirts will have the opportunity to get those items, and those who want bathing suits for the hotel pool can purchase inexpensive ones as well. A CVS run has already been made and $300 worth of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other toiletry necessities have been purchased for the group. Bev has said that the hotel has been "fabulous" in assisting the group with any needs and being very accomodating "without blinking an eye."
Because no one has winter coats, the plan is not to venture into the city at all, but essentially to spend the rest of the time until their flight at the hotel. The chaperones have drawn up a new "Palatine Contract," a combination of the YG behavior contract that all the kids agree to at the beginning of the year and hotel rules.
Parents are asked to create new carpool groups because the ones previously arranged may no longer be feasible for this new midday pickup for people who work. A number of parents have offered to pick up, so if your child needs a ride, please call Roger Christopher, Jeanne Mooney, Sara Oaklander, Martha Gallagher, or Rubin Cassanova. Their #s are listed on the phone tree.
Last but not least, if you have questions about detail or want to relay any information to Bev and the chaperones, the best thing is to touch base with your child through cell phone, or call or email me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be checking it regularly, and my cell phone # is 617-875-1402. Please relay any questions to me, unless it's an emergency, rather than calling the chaperones, because their cell phone batteries are dying and most of them don't have their chargers on them. I will touch base regularly with the chaperones, so it's just easier if I relay multiple questions rather than them receiving multiple phone calls.
The final piece of news is that the Unitarian Universalist Association has officially decided to name the first six saints in the history of the tradition: St. Bev Gillette, St. Ben Bauer, St. Richard Waring, St. Will Smith, St. Kate Gillette-Hesel, and St. John Keller.
Thanks to all the parents for all of your many offers to assist in whatever way is needed, and for the hard work you have done with communication and organization.