THE VILLE – Children celebrated the New Year safely by playing games, running around and spending the night at the Tandy Community Center at 4206 Kennerly Ave. in The Ville.
“I can’t believe they are doing something like this right here,” said Daniel Watson, who lives near the center. “We need this type of stuff around here.”
The Michael Brown Foundation (doing business as Chosen for Change) and the center presented a family-focused bash, the New Year’s Eve Family Fun Night and Teen Lock-in.
Along with dinner for entire families, a midnight countdown and prizes, including scholarships, the goal was to keep children safe on a night known for gunfire in a city plagued by it.
“After losing so many children this year alone, our main focus should be to ensure that they bring the new year in healthy and safe,” said Michael Brown Sr., father of Michael Brown Jr., who lost his life in 2014.Brown and his wife, Cal, co-founders of the CFC foundation, expressed concern for keeping other parents from experiencing the loss of a child as they did. The foundation’s programming is aimed at empowering, engaging and building leadership and self-determination in grieving fathers, youths and families.
During the lock-in, Brown’s wife served dinner to the children and Brown dined with them.
“We have to start a new tradition that will eventually turn into a new culture, one of safety, and love for family and community,” said Khaleel Munir, executive director of the Tandy center.
Munir is dedicated to restoring the rich culture of The Ville. Under his leadership, the center has grown 85 percent in attendance in the last year. Munir has also established partnerships with The Black Rep, BJC, the Magic House and COCA.
The Tandy Community Center is named in honor of Capt. Charlton Hunt Tandy (1836-1919), a black Civil War veteran turned committeeman known for fighting for rights, opportunities and education.