BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — State Farm honored late Senior Executive Willie Brown Wednesday, by giving a large donation to a community center that helped him as a child.
Leaders with Western Avenue Community Center, in Bloomington, said the donation of a $250,000 gift will help them expand the services they offer.
Western Avenue Community Center Board President Michael Jones said he and Willie Brown’s friendship goes back 60 years, when they both attended the Western Avenue Community Center together as youths.
When both men grew up, they worked for State Farm, and Jones said they talked nearly every day.
Jones said the $250,000 donation will allow them, in the short term, to expand on youth summer programs.
He added that they plan to offer creative opportunities to the middle-school-aged kids they serve this summer, showing them everything Bloomington-Normal has to offer, including bringing them to a local farm.
In the long term, Jones said they will look for ways to extend the funds, and hope to create a signature program to honor Brown, focused on the key pillars he embodied.
“Leadership, academic achievement, and good citizenship. Those are things that he believed in, and he tried to instill in everyone that he worked with or met with. He would be smiling right now, knowing that we are receiving this gift,” said Jones.
Jones said Brown was a champion for many nonprofits in the Bloomington-Normal community.
He added, that the $250,000 donation is the largest single donation the community center has ever received.