P.O. Box 2185
E. Saint Louis, IL 62202
(618) 489-5021

Who We Are

Griffin Center, an agency of Catholic Urban Programs, was founded in 1986. The parent agency has been in existence since 1971, serving the needs of the very poor, homeless, and indigent aged of the metro E. St. Louis region. The agency is an affiliate of Catholic Charities of So. IL through the Diocese of Belleville. Griffin Center, however, serves predominately non-Catholic children and no distinction is made in regard to religious affiliation, nor are efforts made to proselytize. The agency operated four centers serving six public housing developments operated by the E. St. Louis Housing Authority. All programs are offered free of charge to children and families residing in the developments.

Read more about our history

Our Centers

All Centers incorporate the FISH! Philosophy to our important mission of helping children from intergenerational poverty succeed in life.  BE THERE...MAKE THEIR DAY...PLAY...and CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE are lived in a variety of ways by staff and children at the Centers.

The Griffin Site:
The development is under renovation. We hope to reopen in early 2011
2630 Lincoln Ave. E. St. Louis, IL 62204
(618) 874-2500
Site Director:  Alexandra Graham

Serves the 80 unit Villa Griffin development as well as the neighboring community. The Griffin Site is the original site of the agency and the smallest of our sites. The Griffin site provides a close, caring atmosphere for the children to gather, explore and develop their full potential. The children at the Griffin site love their weekly trivia games which center on information pertinent to the season.

The DeShields-Robinson Site:
1235 McCasland Ave. E.St.Louis, IL  62201
(618) 874-0637
Site Director: Yolanda Brazier

Serves the 200 unit John DeShields development and the 60 unit John Robinson developments in the southend of E. St. Louis.  A strong staff of residents from the development keep the children under their wing even when the Center is closed.  Under the direction of our resident poet in the Learning Lab,Sandra Akins, the children have been published in the E. St. Louis Monitor weekly newspaper.

The Weathers-Owens Site:
1400 Broadway, Bldg. 12, E. St. Louis, IL  62201
(618) 271-1250
Site Director: Doll Williams

Serves the 80 unit Orr-Weathers development and the 100 unit Norman E. Owens development along the Missouri Ave. corridor.  This spacious center is adorned from top to bottom with examples of the children's art work and produces many of the poster contest winners in the two annual contests sponsored by the E. St. Louis Housing Authority.  The childen also have access to music education provided by a volunteer.

The Roosevelt Site: 
1328 N. 44th St. E.St.Louis, IL  62204
(618) 271-9859
Site Director: Carla Harriel

Serves the 250 unit Roosevelt development which borders Washington Park.  With the greatest daily attendance this Center is always busting with activity.  The imaginative play corner is a favorite along with baseball or basketball, as the season dictates.

Staff and Volunteers

Besides the Griffin Center Director, Diane Sonneman and business manager, Sr. Julia Huiskamp,D.C., each site has a director from the housing development. The center employs 37 additional recreation workers and tutors. Twenty-four staff members are public housing residents; 12 of these are teens in the center’s Welfare to Work: A Step by Step Approach for Teens program. The Director and a Daughter of Charity social worker are full-time employees, and the rest are part-time.

The center’s 25 regular volunteers include AmeriCorps members, Foster Grandparents, AARP, Put Illinois to Work, college students in the America Reads program, and members of the community. Educational Advocates―three full time staff assigned to Griffin Center by E.St.Louis AmeriCorps and several with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, along with Griffin Center staff―mediate between parents and their children’s schools, monitoring each child’s progress. By improving communication between home, center, and school, they help improve children’s academic achievement and increase parents’ involvement.

Americorps and Foster Grandparents volunteers work in the recreational programs. The presence of these caring adults helps children develop into successful adults.

The America Reads students work in the Learning Lab as aides to the tutors. Community members from the housing development help with special parties and other center activities.