The Atwood Community Center has been serving its east-side constituents, under one name or another, since 1945. It's been 60 years since the East Side Business Men's Association donated the building at 2425 Atwood Ave. to the United Community Chest (now United Way), converting it into a children's center for the working class.
A whole lot more goes on there - as well as in the center's satellite locations - these days. In addition to children's programs, the center provides meeting space for various community groups, runs programs for the neighborhood's elderly and stocks a food pantry. Atwood has been a nonprofit agency since 1999, and its mission has done nothing but grow.
Now the center is about to make a quantum leap. As you may know, Atwood launched the One Family Campaign to help finance the purchase and renovation of the old Kupfer Ironworks building (most recently Durline Scales); the new facility will open in 2008. The campaign has raised $10,000,000 toward its goal of $12,200,000, and the public portion of the fund-raising effort is just beginning. With the new acquisition, the center facilities will expand to to 34,000 square feet and 2 acres and move east, closer to the burgeoning Darbo/Worthington neighborhood.
A lot of extraordinarily generous folks have contributed so far, led by brothers Robert and Irwin Goodman, of jewelry and philanthropy fame, who kicked in $2,000,000. (The center is now called the Goodman Atwood Community Center and will become the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Community Center upon completion of the new project.)
But you don't have to be a millionaire to get involved. Next Thursday, June 7, Atwood and Triple M 105.5 radio will stage their eighth annual Pantrython, a continuous commercial-free broadcast from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. that will feature local experts and celebs talking about hunger in our area; they'll play your favorites songs, for a donation. There will be a concurrent online auction of donated items at www.goodmancenter.org/pantry.html.
To get a little more involved, you or your business can sponsor commercial-free airtime, match pledges or donate items for the auction by calling 241-1574, extension 13. The money from this year's Pantrython will go toward the construction of the new pantry, which will be twice the size of the old one, with upgraded dry and cold storage facilities.
There have been a lot of changes to the neighborhood center in the last 60 years, but none so profound as this venture, as the active, involved near east side of Madison prepares for the work of the 21st century.