The Piatt County Mental Health Center last week received a $5,000 grant from 101st District Illinois House Representative Dan Caulkins’ Outreach 101 effort, which is funded by his legislative salary.

Caulkins promised last year not to take a salary if elected, but decided later to instead donate that money to agencies and organizations within his district.

After I got elected, when I toured the district I had several people tell me, ‘why are you leaving your money in Springfield, where you know they’re not going to spend it well?’” Caulkins said in delivering the check to the mental health center on April 3.

So we’re taking that money, putting it in a special account, and I have three people who are helping me, and they decide where it should go,” he added.

Anyone can apply by email at, with senior, veteran and youth groups being given priority.

The mental health center was Outreach 101’s first grant to a Piatt County group, and will be used to replace the flooring in two classrooms that serve developmental therapy clients.

We found that the original flooring that is 25 years old is starting to fray, and we’re concerned about potential safety hazards for tripping,” said Mental Health Director Tony Kirkman.

We’ve got a lot of people moving around, and the last thing we want is something as silly as carpet to get in the way of providing good service,” said Kirkman.

The center is not sure if the replacement will be in the form of carpet squares or tile. It will depend on how far the $5,000 goes.

Caulkins’ annual salary of $67,836 is going into the Outreach 101 program. Other grants handed out this year have gone to PawPrint Ministries and Project Linus in Decatur; Heartland Ag Group in Forsyth; It Takes a Village in Mahomet; the Wapella Fire Department; and the LeRoy Parks and Recreation Department.

Another grant went to help provide an ADA compliant bathroom for a 15-year-old in Decatur.

It’s all about trying to help and give back and do something here in the 101st House District,” said Caulkins.