MCKINLEY PARK — A neighborhood literacy center is looking to become a more visible and vital part of the community after its move to a new location on 35th Street.
The Aquinas Literacy Center unveiled its new location at 1751 W. 35th St. on Friday, a move that will allow the organization to expand its mission of helping neighborhood residents learn English and other necessary skills.
The center opened in 1996 in the basement of Our Lady of Good Counsel, 3528 S. Hermitage Ave., in response to the growing need for English literacy classes in the area. The group's lease at the church was not renewed, and that allowed Aquinas to find a spot that is more visible and accommodating, said Alison Altmeyer, executive director of the center.
They found just that in the building on 35th and Hermitage Avenue, which is a block from its old location, is near Nathaniel Greene Elementary and the McKinley Park Library. Thanks to fundraisers and support of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the group was able to open on a burgeoning spot in the neighborhood.
"We love that it's on 35th Street for more visibility," Altmeyer said. "We're not tucked away in the neighborhood anymore. It will help us grow."
The storefront is not only bigger but is more equipped to house a learning center. The center will be able to hold more classes, like computer classes, and will be able to accommodate more students, if the group can attract more volunteers, Altmeyer said. That's because English instruction is taught in a one-on-one setting.
"It's a more professional environment," Altmeyer said. "We're no longer this small, grass-roots [group], working out of a convent. It's more professional and more conducive to learning."
The Aquinas Literacy Center opened last week at 1751 W. 35th St.