The Maywood Park District Lightford Recreation Center opened its doors this weekend. The historic building, located at 809 Madison Street, sat idle for years. The newly renovated building will no longer sit empty due to the vision of the park district and funding by Republic Bank of Chicago.
Originally built to home an orphanage, it was later turned into a women’s center. However, for the last 40 years the building was vacant. For more than 10 years, the Maywood Park District attempted to acquire enough funding to create the community recreational center, but had little luck until their partnership with Republic Bank began. Republic Bank Branch Sales Manager Diane Salemi happened to reach out to the Maywood Park District’s Executive Director Lonette Hall in 2017.
“Diane came in at the perfect time,” Hall said. “I say that it’s better to tell your story, and once you tell your story people either embrace it or stand back from it. Diane embraced it.”
By the start of 2018, the park district was able to move forward with the renovation.
The Maywood Park District Lightford Recreation Center will provide people with health and fitness classes, community meeting spaces, along with services and activities for individuals with special needs. Community members are already calling the park district to voice their excitement for the center and its positive impact.
“The feedback has been amazing,” Salemi said. “A state representative said to me ‘you’re here in Maywood.’ Word is out about Republic Bank in this community.”
Hall is optimistic about a continued relationship with Republic Bank. Recently, Hall met with Thomas L. Bugielski, President and CEO of Republic Bank, to discuss the future of the Maywood Park District.
“We are honored to be working with the Maywood Park District. Building strong relationships, like this, allows us to assist the community leaders who can envision the future and create it,” said Bugielski.
A soft opening took place on December 1 at the new center, with a special dedication ceremony honoring the center’s namesake, Senator Kimerbly Lightford (4th). A community grand opening took place on December 15.