Groundbreaking Ceremony and Block Party

Groundbreaking Ceremony and Block Party for Breakthrough Ministry Center in East Garfield Park

CHICAGO – Chicago-based Breakthrough Urban Ministries along with HomeAid Chicago and its partner group, the Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago (HBAGC), held a groundbreaking ceremony and block party on Saturday, June 24 to celebrate the construction of the Breakthrough Ministry Center, a 30-bed men’s shelter for the temporarily homeless.

Guests includee local government officials, business and community leaders, donors, community members and media. Tours of the building were scheduled throughout the afternoon. Everyone was invited to attend the block party, a family-friendly event, which included food and beverages, live music, a children’s entertainment area and activities.

Breakthrough Urban Ministries, a not-for-profit group, is conducting a capital campaign to raise the $5 million needed for the construction and operating costs of the new facility.

The Kresge Foundation, a national foundation that invests in non-profit organizations, has offered Breakthrough a challenge grant of $400,000 if the not-for-profit group reaches its fundraising goal of $5 million by March 2007. To date, Breakthrough has raised $3.5 million from individuals, foundations, government agencies and businesses.

In addition to providing shelter for homeless men, the Breakthrough Ministry Center will offer the Breakthrough Employment Services and Training (BEST) program, providing life skills to those in need. Key components of BEST include the Cleanstreet Employment Program, empowering men to earn money through productive activity, and a six-week employment preparation program followed by job placement services. The center will be available 365 days a year and will offer daily food service.

Kerry Dickson, HBAGC City of Chicago chapter president, noted that the Breakthrough Ministry Center has received support from the community as well local government, including Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. of the 27th ward.

“With the alderman’s help, the shelter was granted a special zoning permit to provide emergency housing, which was a significant hurdle in turning this project into a reality. Alderman Burnett was also instrumental in rallying support for this project from the neighborhood,” said Dickson. “For a center like this to thrive the entire community has to be committed to making it work, which is exactly what has happened,” he added.

The Breakthrough Ministry Center is just two blocks from the Breakthrough Joshua Center, which began operation in 2000. The center houses the Women’s Services Program for women in crisis and the Youth & Family Services program for residents of East Garfield Park.

Prior to HomeAid’s involvement with Breakthrough Urban Ministries, HomeAid built a $2 million domestic violence shelter in the northwest suburbs in conjunction with Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) and Kimball Hill Homes. More than 110 trade partners participated in the project.

Breakthrough Urban Ministries is a Chicago-based organization that provides services to homeless men and women, and to youth and families in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the west side of the city. Breakthrough’s mission is to provide neighborhood-based holistic services that empower individuals, families and urban communities to overcome poverty, addiction and isolation.

HomeAid America is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to building shelters for the temporarily homeless with 17 chapters in 11 states. The organization has helped build 110 life-changing shelters since its inception in 1989, and it has collected more than $40 million in cash and in-kind donations. HomeAid is supported primarily through corporate donations, foundation grants and individual contributors.