SOS Children’s Villages Illinois unveiled the final design and plans for the Roosevelt Square Community Center at a special announcement on Wednesday, October 24 at 13th Street and Blue Island Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. In attendance were corporate partners, Board Members, and staff in support of the project, which will serve the SOS Illinois Roosevelt Square Village and surrounding neighborhoods.
As CEO Tim McCormick gathered attendees under a white tent in the middle of the current garden space, he expressed a deep appreciation for the community center benefactors being at the site to stand together in celebration of the project. “When spring comes, because of your commitment, we will begin a process of transformation, and not just of this land and this space, but of this community. Here will be a gathering place for all so that everyone who brings their journey can begin to share a common narrative to help each other to heal, grow, become more, and to share what is a common life of a Village.”
Elena Sotomayor, Maestro Cares Foundation Board of Directors Secretary, agreed with this sentiment, sharing, “From the conception of this project the goal was for SOS Illinois and Maestro Cares to build an interactive and safe space for families in Chicago.”
The collective contributions made by so many, have made the difference in the project. SOS Illinois Board President Don Biernacki thanked fellow board members and Lendlease for their work on the center. Additionally, the City of Chicago was recognized for its support for our Village homes and this center; and key to that backing has been Alderman Danny Solis and his Office of the 25th Ward.
A special acknowledgment went to the CHA Board Chairman John Hooker and the collaboration with CHA, which has been instrumental in moving this project forward. The Chicago Housing Authority and SOS Illinois share a common understanding that a house is just the beginning of a story of healing and empowering others. It’s a connection to the community surrounding that house. That connection can change lives and give new opportunities of hope. CHA Board Chairman John Hooker spoke of his personal connection to having a large family with many siblings and shared, “this is a wonderful day, a wonderful development, and more importantly a great partnership.”
The building was designed by award-winning architect Juan Moreno who spoke about why he wanted to do work in the community, “I feel that architecture has the chance to transform lives and make a difference with people. It’s not every day that you get to meet an organization that actually believes that and lives that.”
Don Biernacki spoke of the centerpiece of the community center, “SOS Illinois is proud to be offering a unique culinary kitchen to support culinary and nutrition education programming, a much-needed resource in the community.”
The culinary kitchen and hospitality program will be a resource for SOS Illinois children and families, as well as community members. Deputy Director of Operations, Case Management Support, Delphine Rankin offered, “I look forward to the day when the children in our care are using the learning annex or taking classes in the culinary kitchen alongside our community residents. This space will be an inclusive center where our children will not learn in isolation.”
This sentiment of uniting a community was reiterated in remarks made by ABLA LAC President Mary Baggett, who shared, “I welcome this center that will bring together a community so divided. This center will offer a place where our children will be able to talk to someone who understands them.”
Wintrust Financial Managing Director, Kandace Lenti added, “We really try to get involved in community institutions, which really do make stronger communities. We are proud to be associated with SOS Illinois and are proud of this expansion.”
The final designs were displayed in a garden walk for attendees to view, admiring the intentionality of the design for the specific community it will serve.
Juan Moreno closed his remarks by saying, “This building is meant to transform lives. When you see it grow, when that shovel goes in the ground in the spring, what you’re going to see transform in front of your eyes is the chance for everyone that goes down Blue Island to see what goes on inside. Not to be hidden; to celebrate all the wonderful and incredible things that SOS Illinois and Maestro Cares do that that will bring, not just this community, but the greater city together.”
SOS Illinois looks forward to being a part of the ever-changing landscape of the City of Chicago. The new center at 13th and Blue Island will infuse a community with hope and healing, and most important of all continue to provide services promoting permanency to help build the future of foster care.
To donate to this project or learn more about the Community Center, visit here.