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Metropolitan Calumet Annual Meeting Mpowers staff and supporters

Metropolitan Calumet, at its Annual Meeting, honored the staff, board members, and community partners whose support contributes to the Center’s reputation as the “Miracle on 103rd Street.”

The packed room of attendees heard a welcome from Executive Director Audrena Spence, and reflections from the graduates of Metropolitan Calumet’s Mpowered Leadership Academy on their experience in our new leadership development program led by Calumet Community Board Member Kirk James. Learn more about the Mpowered Leadership Academy here. 

We welcomed new board members and honored several longtime board members, as well as recognized outstanding individuals and community partners. Learn more about our honorees below.

Thank you to all those whose commitment and support empowers Metropolitan Calumet to serve our communities!

Years of Service Recognition

  • 10 years: Dominique Wallace
  • 20 years: Nadine Harris-Clark, Dr. Joan Hill, Rhonda Perdue
  • 30 years: Dr. Ollie M. Knight
  • 38 years: Bettye Baker-Houston, Pete Gordon, Ruby Larkin

Community Impact Legacy Award: Bettye Baker-Houston and Ruby Larkin
Ms. Baker-Houston and Ms. Larkin stand as pillars in our community and serve as role models for all of us. They epitomize what can be accomplished through hard work, commitment, dedication, and a spirit of giving back.

Community Service Award:
Bryan Bradley of the Chicago Park District, Carver (George Washington) Park
Bryan Bradley, a native of the Roseland Community, is an outstanding supervisor for Chicago Park District, Carver Park located in Altgeld Gardens. He states that his mission in life is to enhance the community through wellness, sports and recreational activities. In order to have productive and effective programs at Carver Park, he collaborates with
various organizations to ensure the impact of change and empowerment is happening throughout the community, especially with youth and their families. His other passion in life is working with youth through sports, having served as a football, lacrosse and wrestling coach in the Chicago Public Schools league for over 20 years.

Mr. Bradley’s willingness to take risks, be innovative and embrace change have provided the community with an extraordinary park district and serves as a model for countless youth. Mr. Bradley exemplifies the vision and mission of Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center’s Community Service Award.

Partnership Award
Far South Community Action Council (FSCAC)
The Far South Community Action Council (FSCAC) serves as a vehicle of empowerment for families and community members who want to impact change and improve schools on the Far South Side of Chicago. It was designed to serve as a forum for stakeholders to debate and discuss issues regarding the status of the schools, and to proactively engage the community in developing strategies to improve the local area schools through engaging, empowering, and connecting stakeholders. 

For the past 8 years, FSCAC fulfilled its mission. It connects schools, students and families to various community resources and develops a strategic plan that describes the community’s recommendations to improve schools and ensure students graduate prepared for success in college, career, and life.

Special Recognition Awards
Lillia Key of Lenore’s Kitchen Catering, Inc.
Ms. Key exemplifies the vision and mission of Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center’s Community Service Award. Ms. Key and her mother founded Lenore’s Kitchen. When it grew from a home-based business and expanded into a church commercial kitchen, Ms. Key reached a life-long dream by providing employment to residents of the Englewood community. Ms. Key formed a non-profit organization, Key Works Association, which offers culinary training and job placement services for underprivileged youth, ex-offenders, and lower income families.

Ms. Key took a major step in 2015, moving Lenore’s Kitchen to the Universal Entertainment Center, an 8,200-sf venue in West Pullman. Today Lenore’s Kitchen proudly serves a wide clientele which includes corporations, government offices, schools, churches, and more businesses across the Chicagoland-Northwest Indiana area.

W. Kirk James of Hub International Limited (retired)
W. Kirk James has been an engaged and integral board member for 16 years, involved in opportunities from events to strategic support. Most recently, the Mpowered Leadership Academy was established based on a program curriculum developed by Mr. James and Metropolitan Calumet Executive Director Audrena Spence. The Academy recently graduated its inaugural class of eight leaders at Metropolitan Calumet.

Mr. James’ role as a Metropolitan Family Services Board member is invaluable. As importantly, his role in the establishment of the Mpowered
Leadership Academy is worthy of this Special Recognition Award. A foundation has been laid to empower future leaders at Metropolitan Family Services, benefiting the careers of all participants as well as strengthening the agency’s leadership pool.

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