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Broadway Youth Center launches Uptown location
by Matt Simonette
2017-02-22

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After several years in temporary quarters, Broadway Youth Center ( BYC ) has a permanent home. BYC held the grand opening of its new Uptown facility at 4009 N. Broadway on feb. 22.

In his remarks, David Munar, president and CEO of Howard Brown Health, which operates BYC, said, "We've worked the last three years to get to this place … . We're so excited that, in 2017, there's something to celebrate."

The drop-in center had been operating out of the basement of Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ. BYC had difficulties with the neighbors there, and had to go before the city's zoning board to get a variance to stay. But Howard Brown Board President Duke Alden emphatically thanked church officials for their support during those difficult circumstances.

"The work your church and congregation did to welcome us into your home kept [BYC's] mission alive," Alden said.

The new facility, which, including the $400,000 build-out, will cost about $1.2 million over the course of its five-year lease from Thorek Hospital. The space should allow for a significant expansion of BYC's clientele, according to Lead Youth HIV Test Counselor Edwin Ervin. The Wellington Avenue location allowed for about 1,300 visits per year, he said. The new location should allow for about 1,500-2,000 visits.

Fewer space limitations also means that various service providers won't have to take turns interacting with clients, Ervin added.

"We can run all the services at the same time," he said. "We're able to see more people. We can test more people. We can expand our services even more."

The nonprofit Designs for Dignity designed the space, donating about 50 hours to the project, said CEO Jennifer Sobecki. Designer John Michon said his team met with the youth who would be utilizing the space.

"They'd never had the opportunity to be with designers and say what they've wanted," he added. "These rooms feel like a real place and not just a church basement."

Among those also speaking Feb. 22 were Howard Brown Health board's Executive Vice Chair Emily Byrne-Driver, BYC Executive Director Latonya Maley, Ald. James Cappleman ( 46th ) and state Sen. Heather Steans ( D-Chicago ).

Nick, a young man who has utilized BYC's services for about two years, also spoke. He said when he encountered trying times, he was able to obtain clothes and get help completing his education through BYC.

"It has opened my mind in new ways, and opened me up to new ideas," Nick said.





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