Thanks to Michael Thompson, and the big generosity of Forest Park residents and businesses, the Howard Mohr Community Center has raised more than $20,000 to update its old kitchen, which hasn’t seen a refurbish for about 30 years, said Karen Dylewski, director of the center, 7640 Jackson Blvd.
“Tons of people use it all the time, and it’s their kitchen too, so we needed a little help,” Dylewski said, noting that the Boy Scouts, Disabled American Veterans, Historical Society of Forest Park and more use the center as a meeting place.
She estimated more than 250 people attended the Community Center’s fundraiser at the American Legion hall on June 1, and donated about $6,000 through ticket sales and participation in the silent auction and raffles — naming Submarine Tender, Starship Restaurant & Catering, and Smokin M’s as big supporters. The rest of the more than $20,000 came through voluntary donations residents made when they bought Forest Park vehicle stickers this year.
Dylewski said Thompson, a retired Forest Park police officer and longtime volunteer at Community Center events, mentioned the idea of upgrading the kitchen after trying to cook 40 pounds of spaghetti for a local group’s fundraiser. The stove could barely boil water, Dylewski said. Thompson went to the village asking for funds but realized, “We’re in a financial bind right now and it’s just something we couldn’t ask to do.”
“So he raised the money himself,” Dylewski said, with Thompson spearheading the fundraiser and collaborating with the village to add the optional donation to vehicle stickers.
Dylewski said she plans to start renovations “tomorrow,” or as soon as possible, and buy a new microwave, stove and dishwasher, as well as bring all the surrounding equipment up to code “so it’ll be here another 30 years,” she said, adding, “I want to say a huge thank you to the residents of Forest Park for helping us accomplish this; we could never have done it without them.”