Outreach Community Center – Villagebrook (OCC-V), a satellite location of Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream, is reaching out to youth and families living in the Villagebrook Apartments through events and community partnerships.
In February, the Villagebrook parent council hosted the fourth annual Valentine’s Craft Night for kids and parents living in Villagebrook apartments. A highlight of the event was a special visit from Carol Stream Police Sgt. Don Cummings, who came out to meet residents and interact with them in a positive setting. “The kids enjoyed his presence, decorating him with stickers and making a Valentine’s box for him to take home to his daughter,” says Lathie Norton, Villagebrook program coordinator.
According to Lathie, CSPD plans to increase its involvement with Villagebrook; Sgt. Cummings and other officers who patrol the neighborhood will be attending more events. “Their goal is to build bridges with residents and become friendlier faces to the kids and parents in the community,” says Lathie. “I’m really hopeful that having names and faces for each other can create more positive resident-police experiences at Villagebrook.”
Another council, the Villagebrook teen council, has been meeting weekly since last fall with the goal of building leadership skills and friendships through community volunteering, projects and weekly meetings. The group of 11 middle school students recently created appreciation baskets for the cleaning crew, maintenance staff and office staff of Villagebrook Apartments. “The youth came up with this idea in a brainstorm session and have written thank you notes for the hard work they do to keep this community clean and functioning,” says Lathie. “It’s so encouraging to see them come up with the idea to serve those who serve others.” The group is also in the process of planning a middle school hangout night in March.
OCC-V students also regularly join elementary activities at the main site of Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream (OCC). The Villagebrook students visited OCC for “Fab Fridays” on January 29 and Feb 19, in which College Church HYACKs youth group runs four activity stations (faith, gym, arts and crafts, and reading buddies) and the youth volunteers and students interact. “They’re furthering relationships they’ve built through previous volunteering such as tutoring, other Fab Fridays and participation in the summer program,” says Lathie. “We’re so thankful to HYACKs for their ongoing involvement with our OCC-V students.” Both Fab Fridays focused on Black History Month in the reading buddies station.
Upcoming events include the Villagebrook parent council’s second annual “Easter EGGstravaganza,” a family reading night, free family portraits in April, and a Mother’s Day lunch and concert in May.