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.