Dear Evanston, If you don't already know about the historic and current importance of the Family Focus Evanston building at 2010 Dewey Ave. to thousands of Evanston residents--and the fact that it's up for sale--please learn about it! The Family Focus building formerly housed Foster School, the only school for Black children in Evanston prior to desegregation. It was also home to King Lab, and is now named the Weissbourd-Holmes building, after Family Focus founder Bernice Weissbourd and the Center's first director, former 5th ward alderman, Hon. Delores Holmes. It will take an entire community effort--and $5 million--to keep the building IN the community and FOR the community. Everyone in Evanston will need to pitch in to help purchase, repair, and maintain the building, which houses Family Focus and 19 other nonprofit agencies that serve more than 500 Evanston residents, primarily in the 5th ward. The building was given landmark status last year. To help raise awareness about the building, create camaraderie, and mobilize support for keeping it IN the community and FOR the community, Evanston resident and community organizer Nikko Ross, who happens to be Delores Holmes' grandson, is working with young people to organize a Unity Walk that will take place next Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. The walk will begin at Simpson and Dodge, proceed to Church and Dodge (where there'll be a stop at C & W Market and Ice Cream Parlor for ice cream), then on to Church north on Darrow to Foster, and back to Family Focus.
"I’m organizing this walk because Family Focus needs us," says Ross, who graduated from Evanston Township High School (ETHS) in 2014, works at Rice Education Center, and recently launched a mentoring program called Brother2Brother.
"We have to come together and save the building, the programs, and the much-needed services." Family Focus participants, many of whom are youth members of the Evanston/North
Shore Branch NAACP, are spearheading the Walk. Last summer, Ross worked with the NAACP to teach these young students about activism, peaceful protest, and community awareness. The group has invited Mayor Steve Hagerty, Evanston Police Department Chief Demitrous Cook, members of City Council, local Pastors, Family Focus Evanston alumni, MLK Laboratory School alumni, and Foster School alumni to participate, and anyone and everyone from all corners of Evanston who's interested in helping to save Family Focus is urged to attend.
"I literally grew up at Family Focus. My mom [ Kimberly Holmes-Ross] worked with the teen parents at the center and I’m told she brought me to work two weeks after she had me," says Ross. "There are ladies in the community that tell me they used to watch me when they were in my mom’s program. After I was old enough to go to groups, people like Mr. Djorgy Leroy and "Big Banc" Adrian A. Dortch role-modeled for me what mentorship looks like. It’s a big part of why I do what I do. And of course my grandmother was the first director for Family Focus." Please SHARE this event, invite your friends, and come out to show your support for this walk and for Family Focus!