Group Meets at Fairgrounds Housing Project to Reach Out to Local Residents

Group Meets at Fairgrounds Housing Project to Reach Out to Local Residents

As the city of Rockford prepares to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one area group is taking action and using his words as their guide.
It's the first meeting of the year for members of the Peace and Non-Violence Committee, a group that is striving to make a positive difference at the Fairgrounds Housing Development in Rockford. The members of the committee represent a variety of different facets of leadership ranging from those associated with the Faith based community to local government officials.  They have several goals for the year, but there is one in particular at the top of their list: to help children. It is a goal that particularly drives Laurita Dixon, President and CEO of Heart of Love Development.

She states, "I see the need right now. There is such a need!"
One of the activities Dixon's organization provides the children at Fairgrounds Housing Development is tutoring services. Every Monday through Thursday, students can receive tutoring in the Fairgrounds Community Center from 4:00pm until 6:00pm. In addition to help with their school work, students also receive a meal. Right now Dixon has 60 students enrolled in her program, and she proudly touts that 15 of them are now on the Honor Roll at their respective schools. All in all, Dixon says the tutoring program is doing well.

What propels her most to give her best for her students comes from the heart, "If the kids find out that you love them, they'll accomplish anything."

In addition to working with children, the Peace and Non-Violence Committee is also interested in working with adults. William Roberts, who attended today's meeting, is a great example of the type of adult the Committee seeks to help. Roberts, a concerned Rockford citizen, decided on a whim to attend today's meeting. He admits he has made some wrong choices in the past. Now, he's dedicated to getting ahead the right way. All he needs is some help to get started.

"Since I've been home from prison in [2006], I haven't been able to get a job, and I haven't been able to find housing," he explains.

Unfortunately, stories like Roberts' are all too familiar for some community leaders like John T. Brantley. Brantley wears several hats within the Rockford community. In this arena, he serves as President of Neighborhood Networking for the Rockford Housing Authority. 

"I hear that everyday. That's one of my pet peeves is the revolving door...the only way you going to transform Rockford is to stop that revolving door [in and out of the penal institutions]," Brantley adds. 

However, meetings like this one are designed to offer a platform for voices like Roberts' to be heard. Although, members stress that their goals aren't met by just talking. Rather, they are determined to offer solutions.

"I am a people person. So, it means a lot to me to try to help folks," says L.C. Wilson, Winnebago County Board Member for District 14. 

That's especially good news for Roberts who says he received some helpful first steps for his new beginning, "It's people out here that's really trying to help people. We just need the resources and the attention to these things and to these places like Fairgrounds."

If you would like to offer your ideas to help move the Fairgrounds Housing Development forward, feel free to attend their next meeting. It is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 11th at 10:00am inside the Fairgrounds Community Center.


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