I first met Maria in 2008, at a childcare rally in Springfield. At the time I had no clue who she was. I recently moved backed to the area, and was working for a program I. Chicago that was at risk of losing funds due to the state budget crisis. We’re prepping to go to Springfield and everyone was talking about this Maria lady! They couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say, etc. my first thought was that she was the Governor of Illinois or something.
We get to Springfield and I hear her speak. I was instantly drawn to her. Her compassion for children and families was unmatched in my eyes from the first time I met her. I will miss her tremendously. God speed to the Whalen family and thank you for sharing with us all.