By NICK MARIANO
MT. VERNON — —
The Southtown Family Center is celebrating 25 years of service to youth and their families on Tuesday, the Rev. James L. Gordon, the center’s director and CEO, said.
The 25th year celebration will be held from 4 to 7 p.m., featuring the Jesse White Tumblers at 5 p.m. and an all-you-can eat fish and chicken dinner. The first 200 people in attendance will only pay $1 for the dinner; it goes up to $8 afterwards. There will also be live music.
Gordon said White, the Illinois secretary of state, is expected to attend. The event will be held outdoors, closing 15th Street from Conger Avenue to Perkins Avenue, Gordon said.
Tens of thousands of youth have benefitted from the center since its opening. The center features a variety of educational and recreational programs for children and adults, from shoes for children to a computer study lab for adults.
The center recently began a computer skills course for senior citizens, Gordon said, adding that the benefit goes beyond learning a new skill. The program is funded by a $50,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
“It is an opportunity to also make new friends,” he said.
The center got its start in 1987 with its Lower the Risk programs, according the center literature. Through the years, the center has been involved in establishing the Southside Ministerial Alliance, a crime prevention program and the Minority Business Association.
Receiving funding at the federal, state and local level, Gordon said the center is open to all youth.
“No child is ever denied services for lack of funding,” he said.