Press releases are known for glittering language, but the one sent to media outlets Monday saying the Howard G. Buffett Foundation would be making an "unprecedented investment" in the Decatur community on Wednesday sure wasn't kidding.
A staggering $30 million to build a 17-acre, four-building social services center north of downtown and help those with drug addiction and other needs.
"We’re addressing a challenge, and it is a challenge, that if left to run its own course, it’s going to take more and more lives in Macon County,” Buffett said during a news conference.
His speech was delivered in a characteristically down-to-earth manner that masks Buffett’s background and deep pockets: eldest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, former Archer Daniels Midland Co. executive, interim Macon County sheriff.
His private foundation has funded numerous projects to end global hunger, among other initiatives, but right alongside those are his substantial investments here in Central Illinois.
Buffett has given so much to support what makes our community special — to the Scovill Zoo, the Children's Museum of Illinois, to name two — and the many public agencies that keep us safe and protected.
The list is lengthy. There’s the $1.65 million for the new Dwayne O. Andreas Ag Academy in the Decatur public schools and $1 million for a city effort to rehab neighborhoods. A $4.2 million contribution went to build the Central Illinois Regional Dispatch Center and $15 million for the new Law Enforcement Training Center. The Nelson Park amphitheater received funding. So did various projects in the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
Those are only a handful – and only the ones that have been announced. The list of Buffett’s contributions is vast and growing. Many have a laser focus on our most pressing needs.
That’s certainly the case with this latest funding outlay, for what will be known as the Community Care Campus. The project, which includes a residential rehabilitation building and outpatient treatment center, specifically seeks to remedy the terrible opioid crisis. Of all our challenges, this is among the most difficult.
We all know friends, family members and neighbors who have battled drug addiction, which crosses all socioeconomic categories. Too many lives have been uprooted.
“Addiction will steal anyone and everyone's dreams,” Buffett said Wednesday.
We as a community are immensely lucky to have his support.