ENGLEWOOD — Donations are still coming in to save the Montford Point Veteran Center on Vincennes Ave. in Englewood, but Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) is calling on local officials to do more.
Home to members of the country’s first African-American Marine Corps, the building at 7011 S. Vincennes Ave. remains in danger of foreclosure and is $75,000 short of the $100,000 needed to continue providing resources to veterans.
The center has been given a Feb. 1 deadline, and so far a GoFundMe campaign has raised $19,519 of its $200,000 goal. If the overall goal is reached, the extra money will go towards building restoration.
“The community has been really responsive,” said Montford Marine Corps Association president Sharon Stokes-Parry, who started the online fundraiser last November. “We see a little bump whenever we’re in the media. It helps.”
Stokes-Parry said she hasn’t had time to keep up with the numbers as she’s busy trying to keep the center open.
Ald. Sawyer said he’s donating to the cause.
“I’m hoping everyone does what I do and writes a check,” said Sawyer, who has maintained a social relationship with the group for years but didn’t know the extent of their financial hardship. “They would stop by the office and tell me about the building issues but never mentioned the debt.”
The center has fallen into disrepair in recent years and Sawyer hopes that once the building is saved, the focus can shift to addressing necessary repairs so that it can serve veterans for years to come.
“We have to do more for black veterans,” said Sawyer.
Montford Point was the segregated part of Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. where roughly 20,000 African-Americans Marines received their military training from 1942-1949.
After a reunion in 1965, Montford Point veterans from World War II created the Chicago Montford Point Marine Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving veterans and the community. They eventually settled in the Vincennes building.