Through Changing Years, Marcy-Newberry Continues Community Commitment
Programming at Mission Giving-supported Marcy Newberry Association, Inc., in Chicago, Ill. Photo by Dana E. Jones.
by BARBARA WHEELER*
Elizabeth Smith Marcy liked to shop at street vendors on the West Side of Chicago, Ill., 125 years ago. She traveled into the city from her home just north of Chicago in Evanston, Ill., where Ms. Marcy was active in her Methodist Church’s Woman’s Home Missionary Society.
She reported back to the women in her church of the poverty she saw among the Eastern European immigrant community on the West Side and encouraged the women to join her in becoming involved in this opportunity for mission and social change. Soon other women in the church accompanied Ms. Marcy on her shopping trips. The women, agreeing with Ms. Marcy about the need in the community, sought office space to work from in the West Side. The women established a mission with the community that provided clothing and food collected from local congregations in Evanston. Ms. Marcy and other volunteers would invite neighbors from the inner city to their churches in the suburbs of Chicago, extending the hospitality they received as they visited the inner city.
Still growing, the women’s mission with the community later moved to a larger building that included private residences for neighbors who needed housing. On other floors of the building, community programming and services took place. Through the years, women also provided valuable support services for families, specifically connecting them with opportunities for public housing being built in the neighborhood.
The Rev. Margaret Ann Williams, associate executive and director of church relations at Marcy-Newberry Association, Inc., has worked with Marcy-Newberry for 44 years. Photo Courtesy of Marcy-Newberry Association, Inc.
Dec. 9 marks the beginning for Marcy-Newberry Association, Inc.’s 125th year in the West Side Community. Through changing times and a merger of the Marcy Center with the similar-focused Newberry Avenue Center, Marcy-Newberry works with the mixed-income community that lives in the West Side of Chicago today. Today Marcy-Newberry works from 11 sites in the neighborhood, the original Marcy and Newberry sites located across the street from two public schools. Children from the schools are picked up directly after school and come to Marcy-Newberry for after-school programming, Ms. Williams said.
United Methodist Women contribution
“I’ve seen United Methodist Women make a tremendous impact on this agency,” Ms. Williams said – United Methodist Women being a successor to the Woman’s Home Missionary Society Ms. Marcy was a member of. “Beyond financial support there has been hands-on support from across the United States.”
Ms. Williams said work groups from around the United States visit Marcy-Newberry each year and work with West Side neighbors at the center, and perform repairs and improvements on the center’s buildings.
Ms. Williams herself has been a work in progress at Marcy-Newberry. Se began working part time as a counselor in the summer program when she was still in college studying elementary education.
“After my experience here, my calling became clear and I didn’t want to be in the classroom,” Ms. Williams said. “I wanted to be in the community – serving the whole community.”
Children at Marcy-Newberry Association, Inc., in Chicago, Ill., one of United Methodist Women's Mission Giving-supported national mission institutions. Marcy-Newberry celebrates the beginning of the 125th year of operation Dec. 9. Photo by Dana E. Jones.
As Marcy-Newberry begins its 125th year, the witness of charity, justice and consistent care that has been working with the whole family is working with it still.
Visit the Marcy-Newberry Association, Inc. website: http://www.marcy-newberry.org