By ALLISON MATYUS
In 2009, The Blue Gargoyle closed its doors after serving South Side residents for over four decades with youth activities, youth and adult education programs and social services. Now, seven years later, the Blue Gargoyle is coming back to provide community needs once again.
The nonprofit organization originally closed due to lack of funding from the state. It is now being revitalized by a group of people that include singer Maggie Brown.
“At the time I didn’t realize it, but my band was hired to play a benefit for the Blue Gargoyle back then,” Brown said. “I knew it was to raise funds but I didn’t know how close they were to closing their doors.”
In its heyday, the Blue Gargoyle provided adult and youth literacy classes, counseling and tutoring services, crisis intervention, GED preparation and employment services to over 1,000 people of all ages with over 100 volunteers.
The intention to bring back Blue Gargoyle has always been in the backs of the minds of those who were involved with its programs and had positive experiences there. While the new Blue Gargoyle will be a little different based on new needs and resources, the name, the location at the University Church, 5655 S. University Ave., and the goals remain the same.
“The mission is to provide alternative activities to youth and have a community hub that allows for collaboration and communication,” Brown said.
With the help of the University of Chicago’s Community Programs Accelerator, the new Blue Gargoyle will have the resources and help from the program’s students to carry out the mission that was started in 1968. Brown said they already have some volunteers and interns who are interested in working at the new organization.
The current focus is to develop the programs that will make up the Blue Gargoyle as well as building up partnerships from other area organizations.
Brown said the new organization will have after school programs and weekend activities that focus on culture and the arts. While Brown said the biggest need right now is to focus on youth, specifically teens, they will not be excluding those who need the organization’s services.
“It all depends on what the community needs,” she said. “We do not need to define or limit it to anything right now.”
Right now, Brown and the board of five people are working to get the word out about Blue Gargoyle’s comeback. Brown and her sister, Africa, are hosting a series of variety shows that highlight youth performances to get the word out about what is to come.
The next shows are July 29 and Aug. 19 starting at 7 p.m. at the University Church. Admission fee is $5.
Brown said that while things are very much in the early stages of opening, it is “in the realm of possibility” that the Blue Gargoyle will be serving the community once again by the end of this year.