Thursday, July 19, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Rubin Pachas teaches dance at the Quinn Center of St. Eulalia on July 18. | VFP
On the afternoon of July 18, a group of kids gathered on a stage inside of the Quinn Center, 1845 S. 9th Ave., in Maywood to learn Peruvian dance from instructor Rubin Pachas of the Peruvian Folk Dance Theater.
“I’m from Peru, I have my dance company, but here in the United States, we have to learn dances from around the world,” Pachas said.
Pachas represents one of four nonprofits that provided programming for a summer camp at Quinn — the first camp it has conducted since the organization hired a new executive director earlier this year, capping off a major overhaul of the venerable community institution.
Quinn has changed its programming format and its logo. It even has a new name. It’s no longer the Quinn Community Center, but the Quinn Center of St. Eulalia Church.
The organization’s mission, however, is still the same.
“The mission — health, justice and peace — is still the same,” said Kristen Kierulf-Mighty, Quinn’s new executive director. “How we go about the programming and support system is a little bit different.”
Kierulf-Mighty said that there’s more organizational discipline than in the past and a greater focus on seeking funding.
She said that the organization raised around $56,000 to operate this year’s summer camp, which served 145 children in first through eighth grades and employed 47 teenagers. The camp ran from June 25 through July 19.
Quinn Center staffers Kristen Kierulf-Mighty, Dan Walsh, Courtney Eacker and Carmela Riley during summer camp on July 18. | VFP
Most of the money and in-kind donations for the camp came from individual donors, local businesses and other parishes.
“We’re trying to be a little bit more deliberate with having an array of programming that supports all aspects of our mission at all times,” she said. “And our mission is a bit broader [than before].”
Along with Pachas, other nonprofits operating programs for this year’s summer camp included the Firebrand Arts Network and Gateway to Music and Arts.
Brandie Booker, the founder and executive director of Firebrand, said that her organization is offering poetry and improvisational courses to students.
“We talk about the benefits of doing improv and how it kind of keeps you sharp and listening and responsive to your partners,” she said. “And it’s fun.”
Quinn is also looking to grow its social footprint, Kierulf-Mighty said.
“One of our objectives is to be able to move beyond Maywood and start moving toward our mission, which includes serving all of Proviso Township,” she said.
In the meantime, there’s still some sprucing up to do, Kierulf-Mighty said. She envisions freshening up the hallways with brighter coats of paint and adding more technology resources for young people.
“We have generous donors who gave us technology equipment, so hopefully we’ll be able to get a tutoring center and computer center setup for the fall,” she said. “That’s my plan.” VFP
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