Oak Park Regional Housing Center celebrates 40th
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:22AM
OAK PARK — For 40 years, the Oak Park Regional Housing Center has strived to make Oak Park a community where people of all races can feel comfortable.
“It’s not as easy as it sounds,” Housing Center Executive Director Rob Breymaier said. “It’s a tough job, because people always come to us with preconceived notions of what they think they want to do before they come here … For example, they only want to live in a certain part of Oak Park.
“We have to give them the truth and re-educate them and explain that no matter where you live in Oak Park, you’re living in a great neighborhood.”
The center will celebrate four decades of sustaining and promoting that national model of diversity and inclusion at its 40th Anniversary Fall Benefit, Oct. 5, at Unity Temple, 875 Lake St. Tickets are $75 at www.oprhc.org.
The night will feature eclectic tastes by Melissa Elsmo, a performance by the ProMusica Youth Chorus, poetry by OPRF High School’s Spoken Word, and Art of Diversity by District 97. Partygoers receive a free copy of the 2013 version of the center’s magazine, The Oak Parker, not due out until January.
Two prestigious awards will be given out that night, one for community philanthropy to Community Bank of Oak Park/River Forest and the other, the biggie, to Ed Solan, executive director of the Oak Park Residence Corp. Solan will receive the Roberta Raymond Founder’s Award for Commitment to Diversity.
“He has been one of our strongest allies,” Breymaier said of Solan. “He makes sure it stays a diverse community and there are integrated buildings within the community. They are a model organization for how building owners promote diversity within their buildings.”
Also at the 40th bash, the center will unveil a new visual identification and logo, with an explanation of where the organization is headed in the next 40 years, along with its vision and how important it is the Housing Center remain an important part of the community.
“We want to make sure Oak Park remains desirable and inclusive and prosperous and diverse,” said Breymaier, an Oak Park resident. “This community is not normal. This community is only this way because we work at it.
“It requires a direct effort to sustain,” he said. “We make sure opportunities are equal to everyone in the community.”
So far, the center is proud to have helped create a community “much more integrated than the Chicago region and the country,” with a real sense of harmony.
“It’s not a perfect place, we don’t pretend we’re Utopia,” Breymaier said. “But we have done a lot better than anyone else and we want to continue on that path.”