Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Find A Need!

I remember hearing that statement for the first time over 10 years ago at the Dream Center in Los Angeles. I did not realize at the time, but it would be something that I would live my life by each and every day. It was a phrase that would fuel and shape me to impact our city each and every day. It would also be a statement that would test my limits.

One Sunday this past February, just after a church service, I was approached by a gentleman whom I have grown to know through his involvement in Dream Center Peoria over the years. As he approached me, it was as though he had some urgency about him. He asked if he could speak with me and said, “Andy, I don’t know what it is, but I feel I have to tell you something with regards to the Dream Center and this coming year.” He continued, “I don’t know what it is, but I feel that this year the Dream Center will have the opportunity to ‘GO BIG!’ and you must Go Big or Go Home!” 

At the time, I had no idea what that would mean, but I did know that Dream Center Peoria was getting ready for one of the biggest years of its existence. As the year went on, I remembered what he had said and I felt we were going BIG in all of our ministries. 
Throughout 2012, we saw God using Dream Center Peoria to “Find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it.” At the end of September, we were presented with a whole new challenge when we were asked to meet with some of the folks from the YWCA. At that meeting, we were informed that the YWCA, who operated the housing program in our building and other programs like it in the community, was about to close its doors in Peoria. 

As we started investigating how much of a hole this would leave in our community and how much the program was needed, we felt if Dream Center Peoria did not step in and take this on there would be ladies, kids and families out in the cold beginning Saturday, October 13th at 12:01am. It would also mean that a very successful transitional housing program, which has helped hundreds of families over the years, would also be homeless, and people who needed this service in the future would not have anywhere to turn. 
This was a huge need, a need we knew we had to do something about. We could not see women, children and families kicked out to live on the street, especially with cold weather approaching. 
The Dream Center Peoria board met several times and we knew that, even though we would be adding close to $350,000 to our budget and tripling the staff of DCP, we had to take action. By maintaining the emergency overnight shelter and the 20 transitional housing apartments for women and families, we knew we had an opportunity to meet a huge need in Peoria. 
We are looking forward to next year and the new opportunities it will bring. Although the YWCA did a fantastic job with the housing that was located in our building, we will be making a few changes. We will be extending the times the overnight shelter is open and serving a breakfast, just to name a couple. 

In closing, I invite you to partner with us to impact this city. There are needs that are crying out to be met. Join with Dream Center Peoria as we impact families in poverty, starting with kids and youth. 

During “PROMise of HOPE”, DCP provided prom dresses and accessories to over 70 high school girls, who otherwise would not have been able to afford to go to prom. 

Backpack Peoria was bigger than ever this year. We provided 3500 backpacks with school supplies and 1000 - $15 uniform gift cards from Sam Harris Uniform to area school children. Methodist Medical Group and Dr. Brown provided medical and dental exams and 30 area non-profits and organizations had the opportunity to talk to families.

Metro Kidz, our Saturday morning outreach to neighborhood children, has also grown. Metro Kidz Taft has seen an average of 40 youth come each Saturday Metro Kidz East Peoria has doubled in attendance this year, jumping from an average of 12 to an average of 25 coming each Saturday. 

Throughout the year, the HOPE Store provided over 2,500 individuals with basic needs of clothing and household items.

History Makers Teen REACH after school programming is now impacting the lives of 60 kids and youth by providing a safe place for out of school activities, such as tutoring, mentoring, read a loud programming, dance instruction, field trips and games. 

Summer camp saw over 60 kids and youth at DCP doing a variety of activities, including trips, games, devotions and lots of fun.

Mission Peoria saw over 300 youth and leaders join DCP to serve the city of Peoria. They served 12 small inner city churches and faith based non-profits and spread God’s love and word to neighborhood children around the inner city of Peoria. 

Freedom Arts Project currently has 24 students in various classes, such as guitar, drumming, audiovisual and art.

DCP Athletics has an average of 70 boys here each Saturday to participate in Basketball. Indoor soccer had an average of 45 kids/ youth coming out each Thursday night. 

The S.E.E (Social Enterprise Experience) is developing further. Our first project, City Brew, is starting to take off. From marketing and sales to grinding and packaging, a group of 12 students are learning the ins and outs of the coffee business through a partnership with 3030 Coffee and local businessmen. At this time, coffee can be purchased at Berean Bookstore. To find out more information, check out our website at www.citybrew.org. 

DCP Organic farm was created as we partnered with the Children’s Home Youth Farm. Young people were able to “get their hands dirty” and see what it takes to grow food from start to finish.

It was an honor to welcome Amy Grant and friends from Nashville to the Dream Center. After she hearing about the impact that the Dream Center was having in Peoria, she wanted to do her part to help the cause and further the mission of Dream Center Peoria. The event was designed to honor Mayor Jim Maloof on his 93rd birthday. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The paper that received an "A"

Back in Sept 2012 I was approached by a young lady, Brooke Langley from Richwoods High School, who was wanting to write an article on myself and my work at Dream Center Peoria.  (DCP)This is the paper she wrote that got her an "A"

Andy King: He Helps Dreams Come True

Passionate and visionary are two words most would use to describe Andy King, the Executive Director of Dream Center Peoria. Andy has had a substantial impact on the city of Peoria for the past ten years, breaking barriers and building up the broken. Andy and his family have worked long and hard to make their vision of the Dream Center a reality, Andy facilitates the many programs DCP offers, and he remains focused on serving not only his community but also God through it all.

Dream Center Peoria (DCP) was envisioned and created by a committed, Godly family with the hopes of impacting the city of Peoria in a great way. Andy King, whose family started and now operates the Dream Center, came to Peoria, Illinois ten years ago from Nuneaton, England. When Andy and his family first came to Peoria from the U.K., Andy’s father, John, started Riverside Community Church. John King wanted to branch out further than the church, however, and “create something where people could unite from all churches and businesses to impact the inner city of Peoria.” John King visited the Los Angeles Dream Center, believing that it was the prime example of what he hoped to create. Upon his return, he and his family started to create a Dream Center model for Peoria. Dream Center purchased the YMCA building down the street from Riverside church and began to make John’s vision a reality. Today, Dream Center Peoria is viewed as a place that “impacts families living in poverty starting with kids and youth.” It is a name that fills souls in the Heart of Illinois with hope. Andy King says that “we [DCP] see ourselves as a spiritual hospital.” Aspiring to influence the city of Peoria, Andy “prays that as we [the DCP] work with young kids and young people that we [the DCP] change and challenge some of the thinking that we see around them to think, dream, and live bigger and change some of the generational poverty cycles that we see them involved in.” Andy has taken the reigns of the Dream Center of Peoria, and is changing and shaping the Heart of Illinois for the better.

Beyond the simple creation and hope for the Dream Center are the many things it and Andy King are doing to benefit Peoria. Andy and his DCP team put together a multitude of programs each year to benefit the city of Peoria. One such program is Mission Peoria, a weeklong Missions trip for young people in the city. I have personally participated in Mission Peoria the past four years and I have seen the city flipped inside-out. “Seeing three-hundred young people give it all to Jesus and serve” was Andy King’s most profound spiritual moment since living in Peoria. He spends his entire year after the Mission Peoria project ends brainstorming for the next summer’s MP. He is never really off the clock, because he is always “thinking, dreaming, and visioning for the Dream Center.” He comes up with sermons, service projects, neighborhoods we can impact, and much more. 

BackPack Peoria is another event that the Dream Center facilitates that ties in with Mission Peoria. In the summer of 2012, Andy King helped collect over 3,000 backpacks for children in the Heart of Illinois. These children and their parents can come for a free backpack, physical exam, information about schooling, and a fun time! A project that is coming up at the Dream Center is called Smile.Eat.Receive., at which 300 families will have professional portraits taken and receive Christmas gifts. This is one of the many fundraising events the DCP does so that they can impact Peoria in an even greater way. The Dream Center also has a second-hand shop, where many can go for their clothing or household item needs. The DCP building itself has low-income apartments for single mothers, and a floor dedicated as an overnight shelter for homeless women. Andy and his DCP team have added tutoring, help with job-hunting skills, and a cyber cafe to the growing list of Dream Center opportunities. Andy King is consistently encouraging his community and coming up with new ways to serve the city of Peoria.

In addition to being dedicated to Peoria through his career at the Dream Center, Andy King is passionate about the city through his faith. “Love God, love people...even the ones that society has cast off.” Andy’s words of wisdom speak abundantly about the man of God and the man of service that he is. Since the day I met Andy, he has impacted my life in more ways than a woman could ever fathom putting into words. I have heard him speak about the development of the DCP, I’ve seen the DCP’s affects first-hand, and I’ve heard and seen the word of God played out before my very eyes. The drive behind Andy’s history with the Dream Center has to do with his devotion to God and Psalm 139. Psalm 139 speaks of how the believer knows that God is always looking after him. “Even the darkness will not be dark to you...for darkness is as light to you.” This particular quote from the verse goes hand-in-hand with Andy’s daily life. Andy King serves wholeheartedly when it comes to his community, but he said that at times he really has to hand it all to God because his job tends to show the “dark side of humanity and the community.” Through it all, however, he is a man of integrity and strong faith who is constantly thinking of how to impact his community. 

The impact that Andy King has made on Peoria through the Dream Center is quite far-reaching. “Giving hope to a hopeless generation” is ultimately the goal Andy strives to achieve in his years at DCP. Andy King and his family formed the history of the Dream Center, Andy heads the programs that affect thousands in the Heart of Illinois, and Andy remains a humble man of God despite the hurt he sees daily. Andy King and the Dream Center of Peoria will continue to bless the community and help make a broken city whole again.

Written by Brooke Langley - Richwoods High School, Peoria

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Just a few weeks ago we did an amazing event here at Dream Center Peoria. A few friends of our put a short video together and I wanted you to see it. It was an amazing day and we hope that you will be inspired to get involved with Dream Center Peoria this year.