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

Griffin Center Celebrates 30 Years of Blessings 1986 – 2016

Dear Friends,
My heart is so full! I am bursting with joy, awe and yes, even pride. We have just completed staff training in preparation for our 30 th summer day camp. Our theme this year, I am Griffin Center: Celebrating Thirty Years of Living, Learning & Loving, is embodied in our staff in which 32 of the 48 member team were themselves children in the program. Another five are the adult residents who first invited us to expand our programs from the Villa Griffin Homes to their housing developments. Their desire for services for their children coupled with their courage and commitment to make it happen is how we have grown from one program site serving 50-60 children in 1986 to five program sites serving seven public housing developments impacting an average of 450 children each year in 2016.
During training, I was struck by how far we have come in 30 years. When I joined Sr. Julia in 1989 we were lucky if any of the children who had been in the program were found on the high school graduation list and when asked what they hoped for in life when they were 18 – inevitably every child answered, “To be alive”. Today, all our children expect to graduate from high school, they know college is possible for them and they have hopes and dreams that include full lives with fulfilling, productive careers. A great deal of the credit for this shift in life expectations goes to our current staff members and other Griffin Center “graduates” who have shown what is possible thru their own achievements. We now boast graduates from SWIC, SIUE, Blackburn, SIUC, Harris Stowe, Mizzo, Arkansas Baptist and Tuskegee. Former Griffin Center children are now accountants, retail store managers, welders, classical musicians, gov’t employees, teachers -even the regional Head Start teacher of the year and one who has started his own not for profit to impact youth!
Sr. Julia’s YES to coming to East St. Louis in 1986 and your willingness to partner with us through your generous support over these 30 years continues to have a life changing impact on the children in East St. Louis public housing. Together, we are breaking the cycle of generational poverty…one child at a time!
On this 30 th anniversary, please know that YOU, too, are Griffin Center. As we celebrate the impact we have had in the lives of the children, we are also celebrating you – for without you, none of it would have been possible.
Staff and children of Griffin Center
We are grateful.