The Euell A. Wilson Center at 1512 Oxford Street has been helping keep kids off the streets for 25 years. Ten-year old Rayonna Rogers is one of them. “I just like it here,” said Rogers. “You can meet new people here and make new friends.”
Cedric Robinson is one of those friends. He said the center offers support. “We learn how to care after each other and uplift one another,” said Robinson. “If somebody is hurt or if somebody gets bullied somebody will try to be their friend and help them out.”
The Euell A. Wilson Center is named after a Bishop Dwenger football standout. Euell A. Wilson led Dwenger to two state championships. Twenty-seven years ago he suffered from adult SIDS and died in his sleep.
“When Euell passed it was in the early 90’s,” said his mother Shirley Woods. “Young people were dying at a high rate because of being involved with gangs and we wanted to give them an alternative, a place to come that was safe.”
And that’s what Woods and her husband Chris did. Their son served and continues to serve as a role model. Not long after Wilson’s death the Summit Athletic Conference helped set up the Wilson Award. It is given annually to the top player in the conference. “He inspired a lot of us here and he was like very thankful and giving to others,” said Rogers.
The center that bears Wilson’s name has become a cornerstone in the community offering Christian-based support programs at its foundation. “It’s usually around 75 to 80 kids who come here every day,” said Woods. “They’re age six to 18.”
Woods said this year the Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a star-studded show featuring a multi-Grammy award winning singer and Gospel Music Hall of Famer will headline a benefit at the Clyde Theater. “This year CeCe Winans will do a concert and help celebrate the wonderful things that have taken place in the last 25 years. We’re very excited and very blessed to have her.”
Winans will be joined by Fort Wayne singing sensation and former Voice contestant Christiana Danielle. They’ll lift up their voices to help the Euell A. Wilson Center continue lifting up youngsters and providing a saffe haven after school. “This is what Euell would have wanted,” said Woods. “He wanted to work with young people. I am living out my son’s dream.”
The Euell A. Wilson Center 25th Anniversary Celebration Concert featuring CeCe Winans with Christiana Danielle will be held Saturday, Dec 15 at the Clyde Theater at 1808 Bluffton Road in Fort Wayne. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The concert is at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $39 and $59 and are still available.
Winans has won 12 Grammy Awards, 20 Dove Awards, and 7 Stellar Awards. She’s been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame. She has also received multiple NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Awards and Essence Awards.