United Way Announces New Occupants of the Marie Avenue Strong Neighborhood House

Rockford, Ill. (January 11, 2023) – United Way of Rock River Valley and the Village of Machesney Park are proud to announce that the Strong Neighborhood House at 825 Marie Avenue has new occupants. On December 27, three organizations began working out of the house to serve the local neighborhood and entire county.

The organizations are Secondary Success and Beyond, the Live R.E.A.L Foundation (LRF), and the Tommy Corral Memorial Foundation (TCMF).

Secondary Success and Beyond provides high school students with advising and mentoring from young professionals in the Rockford area, including assistance with post-high school plans, the FAFSA, study skills, time management, college applications, and more.

“We are so excited to announce our partnership with United Way and the Strong Neighborhood House,” said Gabrielle Sims, Executive Director of Secondary Success and Beyond. “We now have a central location where youth in our community can come for help in achieving their goals.”

The Live R.E.A.L. Foundation’s purpose is to reduce opioid overdoses and deaths by giving community members resources necessary to gain resiliency during hard times, traumas, and everyday struggles.

“The Live R.E.A.L. Foundation is excited about this new collaboration that United Way has created by having LRF, the Tommy Corral Memorial Foundation, and Secondary Success and Beyond operate out of the Strong Neighborhood House,” said Bev Pomering, Executive Director of LRF. “The partnership of these three, women-founded and women-led nonprofits is going to be a wonderful community resource.”

Finally, the Tommy Corral Memorial Foundation works to increase education on factors that lead to suicide. By developing resources and providing financial support, TCMF aims to enhance the mental health of individuals, their families, and their community through awareness, prevention, support, and education.

“This new space will allow us to grow our programming and build collaborative relationships while offering a safe and welcoming space for anyone struggling to find support, refuge, and a community of individuals with the heart to help and serve,” said Xavier Whitford, Executive Director of the Tommy Corral Memorial Foundation.

All three organizations will work out of the house individually and collectively to provide support to the local community with the assistance and full support of United Way.

“The level of service and excitement that these three organizations provide has brought new life into this house and will spread throughout the community,” said Julie Bosma, President and CEO of United Way of Rock River Valley. “We know the synergy they will bring working together is greater than what was being offered before and we are delighted! We intend to use this formula for all three of our Strong Neighborhood Houses and know the surrounding communities will benefit greatly from them.”

About Marie Avenue Strong Neighborhood House

In 2019, United Way of Rock River Valley worked with ZION Development Corporation, a local nonprofit community development organization, to acquire the property at 825 Marie Avenue in Machesney Park and created a “home-like” office space for the purpose of being a community convenor for those living in and around the house. With many community partners and supporters, a Strong Neighborhood House was built, and resources and opportunities were brought to the neighborhood through staff and partner agencies providing vocational assistance, legal aid, cooking classes, law enforcement outreach, art and movie nights, and more.

The pandemic caused organizations to rethink ways of doing business and United Way was no exception. It became evident that it would be more beneficial for several organizations to use the Strong Neighborhood House for their base of operations and provide more services than just United Way could.

A request for proposals went out and the three organizations listed above were chosen. United Way and Machesney Park are providing the space rent and utility free until the end of June 2023.

The house will continue to be owned and maintained by ZION Development Corporation while United Way is responsible for the financial support and programming.


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