Deanna Lacny

A Walk by Faith

She told God she wasn’t working with kids. He had other plans for Deanna Lacny.

The former homeschooling mom was looking for easy work when she landed a part-time job at Rock House Kids. An easy job soon turned into a full-time gig, and, eventually, a leadership role – one that Rock House founder Dola Gregory believed was pre-ordained.

“I never asked for this position, never wanted this position, because I was being selfish,” Lacny says. “But now that I have it, it is the biggest blessing I have had.”

About six years after her arrival the nearly 250 kids at Rock House, mostly inner-city youths, are firmly “her kids,” and many of them, in turn, call her mom. Husband Mike and their three children have similarly taken these youths under wing.

Many of these youngsters, age 6 to 18, come from unstable homes and uncertain living conditions in Rockford’s west and southeast sides. They arrive four nights a week for playtime, meals and Bible lessons in a safe and comforting environment.

“At least they have a place they can come and get that hug, even if they’re a little unkempt. It doesn’t matter,” she says. “You walk through that door, you’re family. I kinda like them.” She laughs. “Good thing I’m not working with kids, right?”

The children have come to learn that “Miss Dee” will always fight for them. It’s a trait Lacny credits to her childhood in Berwyn, just west of Chicago. Her extended family – dad was one of 14 kids – included gang members and a drug dealer across the street. She credits her father with teaching her to always defend what’s right.

The work at Rock House isn’t easy, and the need is always growing. The nonprofit is fully dependent upon donor gifts, which can fund everything from a new roof or a new kitchen to essentials like food, backpacks and fresh clothing (especially underwear and socks). Whenever times do get hard, it’s her faith that keeps Lacny grounded.

“Even if it’s scary, even if it doesn’t make sense, just trust Him. Just trust Him,” she says. “Because, when you run and try to do it your way, it doesn’t work out so well, and He will always push you toward where you’re supposed to go.”

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