Founded in 1948, Northwest Community Center has a long history of providing quality and affordable services in northwest Rockford. Hereâ€™s a snapshot of major events in our history:
1940s In the mid-1940s, 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.
1950s During this period, the Auburn Day Association secured 14 acres of land and built a 50 x 40 ft. cinderblock building not far from the centers current location on N. 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.
1960s The decade of the 60s 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 hired. It also was 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 dollars, the center moved into a new 15,000 sq. ft. building at its current site.
1970s The 70s got off to a tragic start as a fire of undetermined origin destroyed much of the new building. Luckily, a group of supporters led by local businessman Harry Ritter stepped forward to raise $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 was becoming so popular that it was now open 15 hours per day and had a small staff to run it.
1980s The 80's ushered in the development of a second building on the grounds, the Corbett Community Building, 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 Corp. in which the center gained an additional 30 acres. In keeping with its mission to enhance quality of life in the area, the center was now offering more social service programs through the state of Illinois.
1990s Collaborations grew in the 90s as the Rockford Park District added a new playground and athletic fields, and continuing education classes were offered from Rock Valley College. The center marked its 50th anniversary in 1998 with a community dinner, a 5K run, and other activities. It also grew recreational activities for youth through a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, and the establishment of a junior tackle football program.
2000 The millennium was a time of planned growth, as the NWCC Board of Directors engaged in strategic planning for facility and program needs. This led to a broad-based capital campaign which successfully raised $1.3 million for expansion of the center to accommodate a host of new activities. As the decade surges ahead, the center continues to meet the needs of citizens in northwest Rockford. It is addressing the digital divide through a grant to train residents on computers and the Internet. A grant from the Lello Family allowed the center to build and equip the Lello Community Technology Center. And grants from the Rock River Training Corp. are allowing people to learn important computer and other skills for the job.