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Educator who created District 200's afterschool Kids Club to retire

WOODSTOCK – Dave Blumhorst remembers when Kids Club was just an idea of his wife’s at the dinner table.

“She’d always be talking about ... ‘[Bobby] has no parents home until 5:30, 6 o’clock,’ ” Blumhorst said. “For a long time it bothered her, and then she came up with this idea for Kids Club.”

Blumhorst’s wife, Lynne, would spend the next 15 years building her idea from a small after-school gathering of fewer than a dozen students to a districtwide program of about 230. Today, Kids Club exists in all District 200 grade schools and the yearlong program gives kids a place to go during summer and winter breaks.

It all started because Lynne Blumhorst knew children in grades one through five who were leaving class for empty homes.

“They kept saying, ‘Mrs. B, we have no place to go,’ ” she remembered from her time as a teacher’s aide before founding Kids Club. “The whole point was to give them a place to go that was safe and fun. ... We were really the parents they go home to.”

Blumhorst now is preparing to retire as the program director after more than 30 years with the district. She’ll be leaving a program that now has 28 employees.

And thanks to her husband, she’ll leave brand-new offices for the program after years of bouncing from school to school.

Blumhorst said her office and the Kids Club storage facilities have moved about eight times in 15 years. When she saw an old storage garage at Westwood School, she asked the district whether her husband could turn tit into permanent Kids Club offices.

Officials said yes. In summer 2011, Dave Blumhorst, a carpenter who’s been the Kids Club’s de facto handyman since the program’s inception, put up walls to to make three offices, storage, a janitor’s closet and bathrooms. The district added carpet.

He added a separate storage unit last summer.

“It’s not about me, it’s about the kids,” he said. “I was just happy to be able to do things to help the kids along. To know that it’s a beneficial program, it was well worth it.”

Lynne Blumhorst said she is excited for the future of the program, although she’ll miss her full-time involvement. She plans to keep volunteering.

“It’s not only been job, but a passion,” she said.

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