Walk through door #6 on the west side of Mullanphy ILC on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday night in May and you will see Shaw teens and young adults playing basketball in the gym and younger children playing Jenga, checkers, or drawing in the cafeteria.
Earlier this year, a group of residents saw the need for an open and safe space for Shaw youth, and adults, to use in the evenings. With support from the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association (SNIA), they applied to open the Mullanphy gym and cafeteria for the month of May to see if residents were as interested in using the space as they thought they would be. Since funding for the Mullanphy Community Education Center ended in 2013, this is the first time the gym has been open publicly to any Shaw resident. So far, it has been a huge success!
The newly dubbed Shaw Community Center has had consistent attendance of 30 or more youth using the space on the nights it is open, 6:30-8:30pm— highest attendance was 60. The demand has been high enough that the Shaw Community Center organizers—listed below— would like to open Monday through Friday this summer and explore how they might expand offerings. To do this, they need funding. If funding isn’t obtained, the last day for the center will be May 27th. UPDATE: We’ve reached our goal for June (and many more months)! (see graphic below)
The space is free during the school year at Mullanphy, however there are costs associated with using the space when school is out (i.e., July through early August). In addition to space, a key to the center’s success has been Kevin Sparks, who worked with the Mullanphy Community Education Center when it was open. He has been essential to getting the word out for the center and supervising attendees during open hours; he has been paid for his time.
Organizers are still waiting to hear from St. Louis Public Schools on what it will cost to open the center in July. (UPDATE: They will not be charged to use the space in the summer months). In the meantime, they would like to continue to pay Kevin to serve as a consistent adult supervisor for the open gym in June and subsequent months; he is also supported by several residents who currently volunteer their time. The goal is to raise enough funds to keep the gym and cafeteria space open three nights a week throughout the summer. Additional funds raised would be used for a minimal amount of supplies and keeping the center open beyond the summer.
Center organizers are pursuing several funding options, including applying for a SNIA Helping Hands Grant, but need individual donations as well. SNIA has agreed to serve as the fiscal agent for donations.
If you would like to support keeping the Shaw Community Center open this summer, you can donate via SNIA’s Paypal account. Go to SNIA’s webpage http://shawstlouis.org/all-about-shaw/snia/ then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “donate” button. Once you enter your donation amount and log in to Paypal, you can click on the ‘Add Special Instructions’ link and enter “Shaw Community Center” in the comment box so we can track the funds. (Note: if you have any issues with this, you can still donate online. We will follow-up with anyone that does not indicate the purpose of their donation).
In addition, if you would prefer, you can mail or drop off a check to the SNIA office, 4103 Shenandoah; make the check out to SNIA.
UPDATE: Many thanks to all of the generous donors who have supported the center to date. If you have not donated yet and would like to, we are still collecting donations. We will share a new post soon with an update on how everything has gone so far, average attendance, and other information.
If you have any questions, contact SNIA at (314) 771.3101 or email SNIA @ shawstlouis.org and we will put you in touch with center organizers.
Shaw Community Center Organizers: Becky Reinhart, Birdie Chandler, Michael Farris, Susan Turk, Rachel Delcau, Justine Collum, Jenny Connelly-Bowen, Adam Bowen, Sonja Little, and Emmett Coleman.