Elsie Covic picks up her seven-year-old son Oscar Turco from the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club as he leaves Summer Camp in June 2020. 

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (HPNC) has adopted a new mission statement and is drafting a new core statement and values, aiming to function as a community hub while still maintaining its focus on childhood and youth development.

Executive Director Angela Habr said the 112-year-old organization has been, for the past decade, akin to a boys' and girls' club, with a daycare, sports and enrichment activities. Indeed, youth development has been its bedrock since its beginning. 

"There's a rich history of community engagement from a youth development point of view all the way through other community enhancements," she said. "We've really been working to refine the mission of where we're going."

Furthermore, the HPNC facility, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., is aging, and Habr said the organization must decide what new structure to into place. HPNC may either build a new facility in increments, so as not to interrupt programming, or do a major renovation. 

The strategic planning and mission revision began before the coronavirus pandemic, with conversations unfolding over the months with board members, donors, parents and staff members.

They heard that parents needed and wanted things to do while their children were in programming and that community members want intergenerational activities. Habr pointed out that community engagement is an important part of child and youth development; activities like chess clubs and tournaments, which would provide ample opportunities for mentorship, could come to the fore.

HPNC is launching a survey, hpnclub.org/survey, to see what kind of things adults would like to do while their children are engaged in their own activities. Habr suggested an on-site cafe, co-work space, fitness classes or whole-family classes.

Habr and her staff really want to know how many people want to participate in such an endeavor, to expand beyond youth or not. "That's why we're doing a community survey, because we genuinely will use the data to inform how we will proceed," she said.

"If we're keeping youth at the center but recognizing that children and youth need whole communities to thrive, they need authentic intergenerational relationships, they need information, knowledge and skills transfer, older adults need to feel useful and connected and like they're giving something back," she said. "In that regard, there is an intention to weave a more cohesive community. That's part of why we're doing the survey. We're trying to understand the need."

To fill out the survey, visit hpnclub.org/survey

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.