AARP Celebrates 50th B-Day in Chicago with Gift Back to the Community

Friday, July 25, 2008 General News
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In Honor of AARP Founder, Renovates Kitchen at the Heart of One of Chicago's Oldest Settlement Houses

CHICAGO, July 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The hometown of AARP's founder - Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus - was the site of celebration as the organization turns 50. Today, AARP's Chief Operating Office, Tom Nelson, joined with AARP Illinois State President Evelyn Gooden, and members of the community on Chicago's Southside to unveil a $300,000 birthday present in honor of AARP's founder, a new kitchen at one of the city's oldest settlement houses, the Abraham Lincoln Centre (ALC).

The ALC's kitchen is used for teen culinary/cooking classes, to serve breakfast to school children, is available for the centre's many functions and helps generate additional revenue through rental of the facility for catered events by area churches and community groups. The renovation will help the ALC to continue serving thousands of area children, adults and seniors.

"AARP is delighted to have granted this Andrus Award recognizing the outstanding work of the Abraham Lincoln Centre and reflecting our commitment to building healthy communities for people of all ages," said Tom Nelson, AARP's Chief Operations Officer. "This is our fiftieth anniversary year at AARP. As we mark this anniversary, we're emphasizing how generations can connect for positive change. The Abraham Lincoln Centre brings that idea to life."

"The Lincoln Centre was founded to serve its community, and to give its residents tools so they become self-sufficient and lead healthy, productive lives," said Zirl Smith, CEO of the Abraham Lincoln Centre. "Our mission is closely connected with the mission of AARP, and we're extremely appreciative of their help and support without which we would not have been able to bring the dream of a new kitchen to fruition."

Dr. Andrus grew up, went to college and started her career as a pioneering educator in Chicago. Dr. Andrus set high academic standards and developed innovative community-involvement programs that helped to build students' character and skills. Receiving her education at the Lewis Institute (the current Illinois Institute of Technology) and the University of Chicago, she started her career in teaching in Chicago and also volunteered at settlement houses like Chicago Commons and the Hull House.

"Our founder, Dr. Andrus, held the same value of social change and civic engagement that was instrumental in the founding of the Abraham Lincoln Centre," said Evelyn Gooden, AARP Illinois State President. "AARP is proud to be a part of a project that will help the Abraham Lincoln Centre better serve the thousands of residents, of all ages and generations, who need their programs and services."

The ALC was founded as a settlement house in 1905 under the All Souls Church and was unique in welcoming members of all races and religions during that period of history. Today, the Centre continues to meet the needs of people regardless of religious, ethnic or cultural background and now has thirty programs at 30 sites on Chicago's Southside. The ALC concentrates on meeting the needs of residents in the Greater Grand Boulevard community (also known historically as Bronzeville).

As part of AARP's 50th anniversary, the association also awarded Chicago's Theodore Roosevelt High School's Musical Theatre program $100,000 for an innovative theatre program and the Lewistown High School Tube Band was awarded the $10,000 Ethel Percy Andrus Legacy Award for Innovation.


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