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