Patriots Gateway has a lot to celebrate

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local community center celebrated a fully-paid mortgage by hosting a “trunk-or-treat” party, a tradition they have had for years.

Patriots Gateway Community Center organizers are starting a new chapter at the center, and Friday’s events was a celebration with those they serve.

Skeletons, clowns and even a giraffe filled the center’s parking lot today, filling their bags with candy and some tasty treats, while organizers are feeling relief after being able to pay off their mortgage.

That is why Friday’s spooky celebration ahead of the holiday was even more enjoyable for Interim Executive Director Michael Thomas.

“To receive those mortgage release documents, it’s a great step and new season for Patriots Gateway Center,” Thomas said. “Even though it’s not Halloween yet, we’re hoping kids continue to come out and enjoy the festivities. Because of the paying off of the mortgage, we’ll be here for a long time, and so that’s a great relief, and we’re dreaming about what kind of new programs we can begin to develop, including our park players program, which is an opportunity to train teenagers on conflict resolution, emotional social learning.”

The center has been around since 1998, and as of June first of this year, they do not owe a dime more to the bank. Thomas, and Site Director Janice Forrest, now have one thing in mind; the kids they serve futures’.

“The community of 61104 is amazing, and you know what we want to do, we want to give back, we want to let them know that we’re here,” Forrest said. “We’re turning the corner and having an opportunity to grow, and dream about what’s the future.”

Futures for kids like Jace and Kameron.

“I come here pretty often, it’s kind of fun here,” Jace said.

“My parents want me to enjoy stuff after school and do stuff for the day,” Kameron added.

Friday’s “Trunk-or-Treat” was not something that they were going to miss.

“I love Halloween, it’s my favorite holiday…. Because I like candy,” the boys said.

They said that the best treats are chocolate and sugar, but when asked if they had gotten any candy yet, they said, “nope, we were too busy helping,” though their bags were full by the end of the night.

The center was also offering flu and COVID-19 vaccines for anyone who wanted one.

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