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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kingsbridge center will fete founder, Mary McLoughlin

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The Kingsbridge Heights Community Center will honor the life and career of one its founders, Bronx community activist Mary McLoughlin, on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m., 3101 Kingsbridge Terrace.

Ms. McLoughlin was one of a group of three neighborhood women who joined together to form the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center in 1974. In the last three decades, she has served on the center's board of directors - including spending some time as its chairwoman. She will officially retire from the board this year.

Family, friends, elected officials and associates of the center will join to honor the tireless community advocate.

Upon hearing in 1972 that the 50th Precinct was moving out of its turn-of-the-century building on Kingsbridge Terrace, Ms. McLoughlin jumped at the opportunity to realize her vision for a community center. She wanted a center that offered something for everybody. The center would be modeled after the great New York settlement houses, providing educational and cultural activities for all community residents.

She began a three-year writing campaign to convince City Hall to give the building to the community. Through the support of then-Assemblyman Oliver Koppell, also at that time Borough President Robert Abrams, community residents Patricia Burns and Janet Athanasidy, as well as other community activists, the building was finally secured on Dec. 27, 1974.

The facility needed considerable renovations, but the three women, all homemakers, took up the charge. Countless hours and days were spent washing floors and cleaning debris after the facility was vandalized. The center finally opened its doors during the spring of 1975 with a teen program and a Head Start program and a budget of $500,000 to continue renovating the facility.

Today, the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center provides a myriad of services to individuals of all ages.

Ms. McLoughlin, a mother of eight children, one of whom has Down Syndrome, was particularly involved in setting up the center's program to provide respite care for families with developmentally disabled children, adolescents, and adults. For that reason, funds raised through the dinner will be used for that program, which today is one of the most important ways that the center serves the community.

The event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by a program at 6:30 and then a dinner. During the program, those present will be invited to share memories and stories about Ms. McLoughlin's life and career in the Bronx.

Tickets for the event are $25 and can be arranged by calling 718-884-0700 ext. 117.

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