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The Willie Mae Stokes Community Center

The place where education and caring happens.

Article by Bishop Christopher Stokes & Leza Mueller

Photography by Bishop Christopher Stokes

Originally published in Gainesville City Lifestyle

When and why did the Willie Mae Stokes Community Center open?  

Dec 2017. The Center was opened so I could provide a place for community resources and to meet the needs of our young people. To be the place where education and caring happens.

How long have you been a part of the Micanopy Community?

I was born and raised in Micanopy and one of the major problems I encountered as a child was the limited activities. When I graduated from high school, I attended Santa Fe College and then I joined the Military. I vowed I would never come back to Micanopy.

But I did return after my service, only to find my community having the same problems I encountered as a child: no recreation or community resources. 

What is the goal of the Community Center?

My goal is for our center to be a model for rural communities on how to create resources and sustainable programs. 

Who was your greatest mentor?

My mother was my hero. She raised 9 kids, while working on a minimal income. She instilled in me a sense of pride and a love for family and community.

Words you live by. 

"I’m grateful." As a three-time cancer survivor, I have learned to value each day and I pass that thought to each of our young people.

The Willie Mae Stokes Community Center is a tax-exempt non-profit organization seeking to serve the youth of Alachua County and surrounding communities. We believe that one’s destiny is determined by the commitment to develop what is given; therefore, if the world gives you a lemon make the best lemonade possible..

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