Cafe raises money for slain 5-year-old’s family
By David Sharos For The Sun November 26, 2012 12:46PM
Carol and Otto Osterland from Naperville are served breakfast by Ratko Martinic at Wilma's Cafe in Naperville on Monday, November 26, 2012. Wilma's was serving a special breakfast with all proceeds going to the Olivia Dworakowski Memorial Foundation to benefit the family of Olivia Dworakowski, who was killed on Oct. 30. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 29, 2012 6:10AM
On Monday morning, Wilma’s Café in Naperville did something it doesn’t usually do. It opened at 6:30 a.m. to support the Olivia Dworakowski Memorial Foundation. Olivia, 5, was fatally stabbed on Oct. 30 while in the care of Elzbieta Plackowska.
Plackowska has been charged with fatally stabbing her 7-year-old son, Justin, and Dworakowski while she was caring for the children at Olivia’s home. She pleaded not guilty on Nov. 21.
Wilma’s owner Joe Wood said he felt a personal connection to the Dworakowski family.
“Olivia lived right across the street from us, and our 4-year-old daughter would see her at the park,” Wood said. “We know that Olivia is being raised by a single mother, and we wanted to do something.”
About 240 guests came to the restaurant by noon when it closed for the day. Wood described the foot traffic as being “slow but steady so far” and said that some patrons “appeared to still be pretty emotional about what happened.”
“We’ve had members of the Naperville Police Department in here as well as people from Brookdale Elementary School and others from the school district,” Wood said. “We’re asking for a minimum $5 donation for a pancake breakfast, and our goal is to raise $5,000 today.”
Although they didn’t meet that goal, $1,802.59 was raised.
Those who came out Monday continued to express shock over the events that occurred on Oct. 30, while others spoke of raising awareness about child safety as well as mental illness.
“I will never forget this for the rest of my life,” said Naperville resident Ozlem Yesilyurt, who lives about a half mile from the victim’s house. “I don’t know as I will ever be able to leave my family with anyone that is not a member of my immediate family. I can still hear the helicopters that were flying overhead that day. I wanted to be here to support that girl’s family.”
Gina Gwynn of Naperville also recalled hearing the helicopters flying over the neighborhood that day and knew that something was wrong.
“Our kids went to the same school, and I still can’t believe something like this could happen here or anywhere for that matter,” she said. “We want to support Olivia’s mother, and we realize this could have happened to any of us. It’s so sad.”
Otto Osterland, along with his wife, Carole, have lived in Naperville for decades and said they frequent Wilma’s Café often and wanted to be sure to come out Monday when the restaurant is normally closed.
“We eat here a lot, and the food is good, and we believe this is a good cause,” Otto Osterland said. “For me, I think this had made me realize we need to be more watchful about our surroundings and look out for the kids that live in our area. We have 4-year-old twins that live across the street from us, and I don’t think their parents would object if we saw something strange and had to step in.”
Carole Osterland said the victims could have been her grandchildren and that the killings still seem “unbelievable.”
Ron Michalski of Naperville said that people “just don’t know how to respond to the tragedy” and that the killings illustrate “there is a lot of mental stress in our society.”
“I’m not saying that mental health is a reason for everything, but you read about mental health facilities closing as well as prisons and yet we still have a lot of mental issues here in this country,” Michalski said. “People can’t just hide behind that — it’s not a blanket, but this remains a mystery, and it’s just inexplicable.”