CHICAGO (CBS) — What’s in a name? On Chicago’s Northwest Side, the name describes the good work one community group has been doing for 26 years.
Now, as Morning Insider Jim Williams tells us, The Miracle Center has a new home to serve even more young people.READ MORE: New Illinois Laws To Protect Sex Crime Victims' Privacy Take Effect Jan. 1
It’s in their title, and what they do; The Miracle Center teaches theater, music, dance, and film to young people.
“What we do is changing lives through the transformative power the creative arts,” said founder and executive director Mary Santana.
The Miracle Center has changed 20,000 young lives since Santana started the non-profit organization in her basement 26 years ago.
“I really wanted to create something that could impact the lives of many children, especially in the inner city of Chicago,” she said.
The Miracle Center needed more space for their expanding roster of programs, so they moved from Logan Square and bought a church building in the 5400 block of West Diversey Avenue in Belmont Cragin.
Built in 1848, the church is enormous; 66,000 square feet, two blocks, now undergoing an extensive renovation.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Cloudy Overnight With Snow Flurries For Some
“In the sanctuary, it’s going to be transformed into a theatre. So all of the pews will be taken out. We’re going to transform the stage. We’re going to be able to make it a theatre in the round,” said communications director and producer Vanessa Torres.
It’s a dream location for Ald. Felix Cardona Junior (31st), who said it’ll help him keep kids in the Belmont Cragin community safe.
“I’ve been working with kids this past summer at trying to get them off the street, so they don’t get recruited to gangs right over here at Cragin Park,” Cardona said. “I’m so happy. This is the best in the community for Belmont Cragin.”
The Miracle Center spans generations. Vanessa Torres took classes at age 10; now she’s working here.
“It transformed my life. It transformed my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. It transformed me in being able to be creative, have the autonomy to build confidence,” she said.
It’s a family affair for Monica Rodriquez and her children.
“My mom’s been in productions; my kids have been in productions; my nieces, my nephews, my cousins,” she said.MORE NEWS: 71-Year-Old Man Shot Multiple Times, Killed While Heading To Store To Buy Newspaper In Chinatown
Work on The Miracle Center’s new home is set to be finished next year. It’ll also include culinary classes and a wellness center.