DURHAM, N.C. – Five years ago, David McBriar, then the pastor of Durham’s Immaculate Conception Church, envisioned a gymnasium and community center, where the church’s parochial school students and neighborhood families could learn and play.
But, there were a lot of obstacles to getting the project off the ground. Having just finished an expansion of the church itself, the congregation wasn’t going to be a ready source of funds, and it didn’t seem that the broader community could shoulder so heavy a load.
David asked for help from a parishioner, Duke University Coach Mike Krzyzewski. He responded by becoming the project’s biggest donor and helping arrange for a lot of out-of-town money to flow into the roughly $10 million project and the non-profit set up to run it.
The Emily Krzyzewski Family Life Center, named in honor of Krzyzewski’s late mother, officially opened Feb. 18. The center sits next door to Immaculate Conception Church.
The center also sits between Durham’s changing downtown and Duke’s campus. A center study found that one in three children in six nearby neighborhoods is a member of a low-income family.
The center eventually will offer adult literacy and language courses, after-school, arts, academic enrichment and athletic programs to these low-income children.
It also will offer scholarships to children for programs offered by other agencies. The center aims to create an environment where people are encouraged and equipped to reach their full potential, said Marleah Rogers, its CEO and president.