CHICAGO – A community center in the East Garfield Park neighborhood is celebrating a milestone early in January – and they’ve already had their first event to commemorate the moment.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago’s Dr. Martin Luther King Center, located at 2950 West Washington Boulevard, is turning 70 years old. Starting as the Midwest Boys Club, it was rebranded in honor of Dr. King in 1969.
It’s a major moment for director Stan Anderson as the center continues to help young boys and girls in the west side neighborhood.
“We’re talking decades of impact,” said Anderson when speaking to WGN News Now this week.”Familial lineage in terms of club support, club engagement, family attendance, and just the social impact and the footprint that we have in East Garfield Park.”
To mark the occasion, the center held a 70th-anniversary celebration on January 20, just after the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
In keeping with its tradition of basketball in the city, 25 children, ages 5 through 17, participated in a basketball skills challenge and then a scrimmage that evening. The Dr. King Center was a place where Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and College Basketball Hall of Famer, former DePaul star Mark Aguirre, along with many others molded their basketball skills.
This year was different in the fact that the club held its first swim meet in the history of the center. Forty kids took part in that event which included three of the four Chicago Boys and Girls Clubs that are taking part in the dynamic aquatics program.
Outside of sports, there was also a Dr. King art event that featured various collages and banners.
“The building was full of energy. Just you could just feel the level of love and warmth in the building,” said Anderson of both events.
Most encouraging for the Dr. King center director is to see the generations of families who continue to take part in events and support activities as the 70th anniversary celebration begins.
“We are here for the young people, we are here for the community, looking at providing programs and opportunities for them that they otherwise may not have exposure,” said Anderson. “We understand that the social impact of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boys and Girls; it spans decades.
“We’ve had families that have been coming, and to see those family members that were supporting the event as they had been previous members during their teens, during their younger years, now being there as a support to their kids. We had a grandparent who was a club kid in the 70s. and now he’s bringing his granddaughter to be a part of the opportunity.”
Larry Hawley has more on the 70th anniversary of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center in the video above.