NWCC Was Founded in 1948
We have a long history of providing quality and affordable services in Rockford, IL. In the mid-1940’s, a small group of friends and neighbors began to meet in a garage near Auburn and Day streets to plan social and neighborhood events. Called the Auburn Day Association, the group was involved in such activities as a neighborhood clean-up, the development of a northwest fire district, and efforts to address drainage and sanitary concerns in the area. The group was chartered as a nonprofit organization by the state in 1948, run entirely by volunteers.
During the 1950’s, the Auburn Day Association secured 14 acres of land and built a 50x40ft. cinderblock building, not far from the center’s current location on North Johnston Avenue. The building became a popular site for meetings, activities and neighborhood events. Some early activities included knitting groups, ice skating, archery club, kite flying, softball, movies, square dancing, neighborhood dinners and bingo games.
The decade of the 1960’s proved to be a milestone period for the center. The name of the organization was officially changed to the Northwest Community Center, a Board of Directors was elected and a full-time Executive Director was hired. It was also one of the first nonprofits to receive funds from the new United Way. As activities and programs grew, so did the need for a new facility. With the help of local funding, the center was relocated into a new 15,000 square foot building — where it remains today.
The 1970’s got off to a tragic start, as a fire of undetermined origin destroyed much of the new location. Luckily, a group of supporters led by local businessman, Harry Ritter, stepped forward and raisec $300,000 to rebuild the center. The rejuvenated community center saw rapid program and activity growth, including day care services, baseball and basketball teams, adult education classes and social events. The center grew to becoming so popular that it was now open 15 hours each day and had a small staff to run it.
The 1980’s ushered in the development of the Corbett Community Building, NWCC’s second building on the grounds, made possible by a donation from Dr. Willard Corbett. Another local benefactor, Harry Lello, also donated funds to start the Lello Neighborhood Library at the center. Later in the decade, the center had a land swap with neighboring Amerock Corporation, in which we gained an additional 30 acres. In efforts to expand on our mission to enhance quality of life in the community, NWCC began offering more social service programs through the State of Illinois.
Collaborations grew in the 1990’s, as the Rockford Park District added a new playground with athletic fields. In addition, continuing education classes were now offered from Rock Valley College.
In 2018, NWCC celebrates 70 years of service to the community of Rockford, IL. During our time, we have grown into one of the prominent small human service non-profits within the area, continuing our mission of embracing diversity and enriching the quality of life. Today, we serve approximately 15,000 youth, adults and seniors annually through dynamic partnerships and a host of recreational/educational programs and initiatives. The organization has grown to approximately 8 acres of land, 25,000 square feet of combined building space, 2 operating locations and has just over 20 employees. In 2018, NWCC also launches initiatives to refresh our brand and website, along with develop and launch our first promotional video in order to capture the history of our organization and what we have to offer, as well as cap the year off with our 70th birthday celebration. The NWCC Leadership Team is excited about the future of our organization and the long-term impact of our mission on our community.