ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — On Friday, a Rockford pastor finally saw his dream realized: a new community center and office space on the city’s south side.
“People may think I’m crazy and far out,” said Rev. William Martin, of Providence Missionary Baptist Church. “But, they thought I was crazy when this building was in an dilapidated state.”
Martin opened the Guysie Jenkins Community Resource Center, across from his church on Clifton Avenue. He said the building had been sitting idle for years and had become an eyesore. But Martin had a vision, and after a year and a half, it is now a resource for the south side community.
“The southwest side of Rockford has hope. [That’s what] this building is, actually…hope,” Martin said. “So, for anyone that is facing disparities, anyone that just [needs] a place, a resource [can come here.]”
Ald. Gabrielle Torina (5th Ward) said she is excited to have an office space in the heart of her ward.
“I feel like, not only will this open up communication, but I want people to feel like they can come in if they have issues, but also come in with ideas,” she said.
The center is named after Guysie Jenkins, a former Rockford Public Schools teacher and parishioner of Providence Baptist who died in 2020 at the age of 101.
The building will provide office space for non-profit organizations, and offer after-school programming for students.
“Right now, we are just keeping it open to a lot of different partnerships,” Torina said. “We can see an opportunity for meetings to be held here, an opportunity for the police, for residents to come in, so we can bring in different speakers and different resources.”
Martin said he is excited for the opportunity to provide resources to the south side.
“It was a vision since I’ve been here, four years. And, it finally came to fruition. This is not only for our church, but this is for the 5th Ward, the southwest side,” he said.
In the future, Martin and Torina hope to include a computer lab, prep space for students taking the SAT or ACT, and a gymnasium.