The newly expanded Metropolitan Family Services Midway Center, 3843 W. 63rd St. Credit: Jacqueline Cardenas/Block Club Chicago

WEST LAWN — Community leaders cheered as they cut the ribbon Wednesday on a renovated human services center in West Lawn that is expected to nearly double the amount of neighbors it currently serves.

The Midway Center, 3843 W. 63rd St., is one of the 10 Metropolitan Family Services centers across Chicago and suburban areas.

With a $4.5 million dollar state grant, the Midway Center has expanded its physical footprint as well as its reach in the communities of Chicago Lawn, Englewood, West Englewood, West Lawn, Gage Park and Clearing.

The center, which currently serves 12,763 clients, went from 13,700 to 20,700 square feet and will now be able to provide services to at least 20,000 people annually, said Ann Pinkney, senior director of marketing and communications at Metropolitan Family Services.

The grant comes from the Illinois Capital Development Board, which oversees the design and construction of state-funded facilities.

The Midway Center has added a courtyard, play area, workstations and conference rooms for its domestic violence and adult protective services programs, Aldred said.

Midway Center staff at the ribbon-cutting event for the newly expanded health center in West Lawn. Credit: Jacqueline Cardenas/Block Club Chicago
Aide Ortiz, 17, received help for her and her son through the Parents as Partners Program at Metropolitan Family Services’s Midway Center in West Lawn. Credit: Jacqueline Cardenas/Block Club Chicago

A portion of the funding went towards creating a “socializing room” for children whose parents are part of the Parents As Partners Program, a free support service for mothers and fathers ages 13-24 who have or are expecting a child.

Aide Ortiz, a Back of the Yards resident, said the program helped her in a time when her “only solution was to drop out [of school]” after finding out she was pregnant with her son at 15.

Now 17, she said she has “faced so many challenges” but by talking to her parent-child educator, she “received the supportive tools to overcome obstacles like going back to school.”

“I’m looking forward to graduating in the next few months,” Ortiz said.

Bryan Johnson, executive director of Metropolitan’s Midway Center, said he wants community members to know that “this is your space, come in [and] use it.”

Around 70 percent of staff members at the center are from the community, Johnson said.

Bryan Johnson, executive director of Metropolitan Family Services’s Midway Center and former director trim the ribbon to the renovated center Wednesday afternoon. Credit: Jacqueline Cardenas/Block Club Chicago

Ald. Jeylú Gutiérrez (14th), whose ward covers Gage Park, Archer Heights and parts of Brighton Park and Chicago Lawn, praised the officials who helped with the expansion project.

Gutiérrez said when she worked as district director for Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya, she would refer constituents to Metropolitan Family Services where “they would come back to our office and tell how how great the resources [were].”

“I know you guys have some locations in my ward. I want to continue working with you all,” she said.

Ald. Jeylú Gutiérrez (14th) spoke at the Metropolitan Family Services’s Midway Center ribbon cutting celebration Wednesday afternoon. Credit: Jacqueline Cardenas/Block Club Chicago

The human services agency is “really filling the void in our neighborhood with these services that we hear so much in our ward office,” Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd) said.

Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar, who sits on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, said, “It’s great to be out of Springfield and be here in the district and see what all of you have put together and the partnerships and how everybody works well in the community.”

“I know this is not going to be the end. We’ve just had a conversation right now and he asked me about some other programs. So this is great,” Guerrero-Cuellar said, gesturing to Johnson.

Ric Estrada, president and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, told Block Club the agency is eyeing “a couple other facilities,” including a former dental office on 103rd Street, that will be turned into “something very similar to what happened here.”

For more information about Metropolitan Family Services, click here.

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