The ARK of St. Sabina - Reawakening the Dream

Written by Jocelyn Jones

ARK Community Center Newsclippings 425330“It is our responsibility to brush the dust off our children’s dreams and reawaken them” said Father Pfleger.

These words are a reflection of why the Community Center was built nearly 80 years ago, and remains at the heart of what we do for the people we serve at the ARK each and every day.

On November 5, 1937, the corner of 78th and Racine was transformed from a cinder playground, to a prominent Community Center on the Southside of Chicago. From its origins, the St. Sabina Community Center (now known as the ARK) was a place where people would come from all over the city to participate in its competitive AAU basketball tournaments, and a range of other sporting events. Thousands of spectators came through the doors of St. Sabina’s Community Center every year for their exciting skating variety shows, and St. Sabina’s dances and parties were known for being the place where many marriages had its start.

St. Sabina’s Community Center remained a pillar of the Auburn Gresham community for several decades, but due to financial hardships the once vibrant Community Center nearly closed its doors to the public in the late 1970’s. Eventually, the weekly skating parties came to an end, and the basement of the Community Center was completely boarded up. Yet, there were still much brighter days ahead for the St. Sabina Community Center.

In 1992, Father Michael Pfleger made a decision to reopen the Community Center, and he renamed it “the ARK” to symbolize his intent for it to be a safe haven for youth to escape from the storms of the world and prepare for a better life. The ARK, which remains a pivotal anchor in Auburn Gresham today, touches over 1,000 youth and young adults each year through its after school program and outreach events. From the historic peace tournament to the countless youth who come to the ARK each year to dance, sing, and perform, the ARK is a place that helps young people to discover the talents and gifts that lie within them. “It is our responsibility to brush the dust off our children’s dreams and reawaken them” said Father Pfleger. These words are a reflection of why the Community Center was built nearly 80 years ago, and remains at the heart of what we do for the people we serve at the ARK each and every day.

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