Charles Black Center, Sr. Recreation Center Uses Creative Mentorship Opportunities to Impact Lives

Thoughts of Charles Black, Sr. Recreation Center usually bring to mind their after-school program or open basketball.

Even those who frequent the location may only be able to add the community room or luncheons to that list. However, this center has much more to offer, even off-campus.

On February 7th, George Rogers along with other staff members, watched the surprise and excitement of ten girls, between the ages of 3 and 12, as a party bus pulled up to Charles Black Rec Center. This group was headed to the Daddy Daughter Dance to dance the night away.

Daddy Daughter Dance is an annual Venues Parks & Arts event held at Century Center where girls and their father figures dress up, snack, take photos and create memories. For the past five years, Charles Black Rec Center has played an impactful role in making this event available to girls who would otherwise be unable to attend.

“We realized that there was a need for this outing when we heard that a lot of the girls at our center mentioned wanting to go to the dance, but couldn’t attend for one reason or another,” said Center Director, Cynthia Taylor.

Unfortunately, these girls’ father figures were unable to take them to the dance due to work, illness, no longer being in the girls’ lives or various other reasons.

“I have been sick – in and out of the hospital,” one father said in a message to Rogers, praising him for escorting his daughter, “It hurts me so bad to not be able to do things with my daughter. You are a stand-up dude for doing this.”

When staff members, along with Rogers, were first asked if they would escort the girls to the dance, they answered yes without hesitation. This is just one shining example of how Charles Black Rec Center goes beyond the call of duty to ensure that South Bend’s youth are offered as many opportunities as possible.

Ever since Charles Black Rec Center started attending, they have gone all out for this event. Before the dance, the girls are dropped off at the recreation center, full of enthusiasm for the night ahead. From there, dresses and costume jewelry are strewn across the prepping area as mothers, who have offered their help, scramble to get everyone ready. After they are dressed for the occasion, the girls chat and dance together in their own mini-party before their departure. One by one, the young ladies approach Jillian Rucker, staff member, to get their nails painted to match their dresses. Then, in what seems like a flash, the party bus arrives to whisk the girls off to Century Center in a stylish fashion.

Looking back on the evening, Taylor says, “It’s been so fulfilling for us to be able to do this. You get to see the smiles on their faces and how happy they are. It can actually bring you to tears of joy at times.”

Overall, at the end of the night, ten girls pile back into the party bus, tired yet delighted with the evening that they won’t soon forget.