Housing Authority dedicates center in honor of education advocate
SPRINGFIELD -- The Springfield Housing Authority (SHA) dedicated a newly renovated education and development center on June 25 in honor of Farris Mitchell, a former resident of SHA's Riverview Apartments.
Mitchell moved to Springfield from rural Georgia in 1964 with his family and became a staunch advocate of education in the community. Several generations of the Mitchell family were on hand for the event.
Retired Springfield Public Schools Educator Jimmie Mitchell, SHA Executive Director William H. Abrashkin, and Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno tour a classroom at the Farris Mitchell Education and Development Center in Springfield.
"The Farris Mitchell Education and Development Center and their scholarship awards will help open the door to allow our young people to move forward and lower our poverty rate," Domenic J. Sarno, mayor of the city of Springfield noted in his remarks at the dedication ceremony.
Those who knew him describe Mitchell as a father figure to many young children who inspired hope and self esteem, but above all urged them to stay in school.
As a testament to his focus, all of Mitchell's 10 children graduated from high school and went on to attend college.
During the dedication ceremony, Jimmie Mitchell, son of Farris Mitchell and a recently retired 25-year educator for the Springfield Public Schools, awarded the 2010 Farris Mitchell Scholarship to Ashley Perez, who will attend American International College this fall.
This scholarship was established in his name after he passed away 1995
"Farris Mitchell lived his belief that education is the key the key to a better life in the material sense, of course," William H. Abrashkin, executive director of the SHA, said at the dedication ceremony.
"It is the pathway to a career and a higher income which can move individuals and families beyond the need for public housing," he continued. "Mr. Mitchell also understood that education is the key in another sense. It opens the door to a life in which people can realize their own God-given potential while making a positive difference in the lives of others."
The center currently houses a Head Start program serving 40 children, a residents services center, ESL classes, and a computer training class for senior citizens.
The SHA also recently opened the Forest Park Manor activity center, a health center for area residents.
The Deborah Barton neighborhood network center, which provides job development and computer training for residents of the John L. Sullivan Apartments, was opened last year.