For decades, the building that housed the former Deborah Boys Club on Kimball and Ainslie was home to the Albany Park Community Center (APCC), an organization that carried on Deborah’s mission to support the community through social services. Recently, APCC consolidated all its programming into another landmark Albany Park building, the former location of Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, located next door to Von Steuben High School. Although these two community organizations were never associated, they both had profound impact on young lives in Albany Park.
In this 23rd month of the Illinois state budget impasse, funding for APCC programs has been uncertain. But fortunately for the children and families of Albany Park, several Deborah alumni have stepped up to provide much needed philanthropic support of the organization that took over the home of the fondly remembered Deborah Boys Club.
Neil Bluhm, a highly successful real estate investor and developer who grew up in Albany Park and graduated from Von Steuben High School, has been supporting APCC since 2015. According to Casey Smagala, APCC’s Director of Development and Community Engagement, Mr. Bluhm exemplifies what kids from Albany Park can aspire to achieving. “Mr. Bluhm was raised by a single mother who was committed to her kids’ success. We have so many motivated mothers like that at APCC today!” said Smagala.
Another Deborah alumni, Jerry Turry, has also been supporting the Albany Park Community Center and will be recognized with their Distinguished Alumni Award at the Champions of Albany Park fundraiser on June 7th. Turry was the Mayor of Lincolnwood for 12 years and a legendary Niles West High School athletic director.
“I had humble beginnings in this working-class neighborhood. Deborah Boys Club was a safe and recreational place for us to play as we developed into young men and women. APCC is doing the same thing for children 50 years later!” said Turry.
Previous Distinguished Alumni include Josephine Lee of the Chicago Children’s Choir and Jerry Freedman of Freedman Seating Company. “If we’re going to be here for another 40 years empowering families on a path to self-sustainability we’re going to have to raise more private dollars. I’m blown away by our Albany Park Alumni that have stepped up their support so far,” says APCC’s new CEO Monica Woodson.
Last month APCC raised over $10,000 at their annual #PARTYwPURPOSE fundraiser at Revolution Brewing Co. following a power speech from APCC alumni Andy Nguyen. Andy’s mother immigrated from Vietnam and enrolled him in APCC’s Head Start program, allowing her to work full time. Andy went on to earn an MBA from University of Michigan, work on Wall Street and now leads a team at Google. He proudly told a crowd of 140+ at the event, “I would not be where I am today if it were not for my early years at APCC!”
APCC aims to raise $60,000 at the Champions of Albany Park fundraiser in June to fill funding gaps for programs and operations left vulnerable by government funding shortfalls. Click here for information about tickets to this annual event,