By Steve Waring Special to the Milwaukee Times Accompanied by the beat of African drums, the diversity found in Milwaukee’s 15th Aldermanic District was celebrated beginning promptly at 10 a.m., on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 during an elaborate, day-long dedication ceremony of the new Bucyrus Campus of the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care at 2450 W. North Ave. “It’s a new day in the 15th,” said District 15 Alderman Russell Stamper, II, in remarks after a ceremonial ribbon cutting and untying of a Kenté cloth bow. “They did it with inclusion and in true partnership with the community. St. Ann’s has breathed new life into this community.
The partnership has transformed this community overnight and has improved it … overnight. And along with that partnership Sister Edna Lonergan and her staff have provided quality services for our youth, our adults and for our precious elderly.” Mayor Tom Barrett described Sr. Lonergan as a woman to be reckoned with. “Don’t get in her way,” he said to laughter from the crowd which continued to grow after guests were allowed inside for guided tours, refreshments and a full schedule of entertainment events. Organizers had rented 250 chairs, according to St. Ann’s media relations representative Catherine Feldkamp, but it appeared there was at least twice that number of people present for the blessing and libation ceremony which began at about 10:30 a.m.
Along with many corporate and individual sponsors the new 80,000 square foot facility is the creation of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi and “reflects Franciscan values in meeting the spiritual, psychological, social and physical needs of all who participate, regardless of faith, culture or ability to pay,” according to information on the St. Ann’s internet website. The $21 million facility will bring child and adult day care services for local families and caregivers. St. Ann’s will also offer a variety of health and dental clinics, educational services as well as a limited number of spaces where entrepreneurial-minded residents can start a business. “We’re blessed to be part of a great neighborhood that’s been too long neglected,” Sr. Lonergan said. “There’s so much goodness, talent and potential here.
I wanted it [the new center] to be here in the worst way. This is a beautiful part of the city.” She then thanked Mayor Barrett for his assistance in making the new facility possible. Larry M. Kilgore, Sr., and his wife Armitta now live north of Brown Deer Road, but they grew up in the neighborhood where St. Ann’s is located and decided to come and see the new facility.
The couple came away very impressed. “This is going to be very helpful,” Armitta said. “It will do a lot for this community.” Resurrection International Ministries’ founder, pastor and general overseer Prophet Elijah Jones, Sr., agreed. “Many seeds have been planted in this area today, many inclusive seeds,” he said. “Now someone will have to come along and water it. God will determine how it will grow.”
A number of the guests included representatives from the corporations which helped with the planning and construction of the African-themed community center. Forward Community Investments business development officer Brandon Rule said his company helped put together a $5 million “new market tax credit,” a financial loan in which a number of lenders participated, he said.