Saturday September 19th the Willkie House celebrated 100 years of community service with a block party outside its 17th street location between Crocker and Olive. The celebration featured child friendly activities like a bouncy house, face painting, and a youth basketball tournament. A live DJ and Food trucks filled the block as families enjoyed the event.
Since 1917 the Willkie House has served the Des Moines community as a resource for women and children, this September it celebrates its centennial. Started as the War Recreation Board for African-American soldiers at Fort Des Moines, it also oversaw the Colored Community Service Center. A resource that offered employment placement, food assistance, and apartment referrals.
Having been in its present location on 17th Street since 1951, the Willkie House offers After School Programs, Summer Day Camps and Recreational activities for over 200 children each year.
One highlight of the centennial celebration was the creation of a Hall of History, documenting 100 years of progress. Composed of photographs, news clippings, and documents the history wall lines the lower level of the Willkie House.
Visits from Eleanor Roosevelt or Mary McLeod Bethune are just a few of the photo highlights featured on the wall.