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Michelle McKoy named director of Bridge Lakepoint Waunona Neighborhood Center

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Michelle McKoy knows what it is to grow up without a community center.

She grew up in the Vera Court neighborhood on Madison’s north side, and doesn’t even remember what happened, exactly. But there was something – some event that got the adults motivated to demand change.

“It brought all the people in Vera Court together to advocate for a community center,” McKoy said in an interview Monday. “I remember my aunts and other people went to the City Council and spoke to say we need resources. We need help. This is a neighborhood that is struggling.”

She saw firsthand the impact the Vera Court Neighborhood Center had when it opened in 1994.

On Monday, she’ll bring that understanding to her new job as director of the Bridge Lakepoint Waunona (BLW) Neighborhood Center on the south side, operated by the same nonprofit as the Vera Court Neighborhood Center.

McKoy most recently worked as Coordinator of the Parent Support Program at Briarpatch Youth Services under CEO Gloria Reyes, who left Briarpatch to run for mayor of Madison. After that campaign, Reyes took over the BLW directorship on an interim basis, and recommended McKoy for the permanent position.

McKoy said she’s taking the helm at a center that’s in a good place.

“It looks like it’s already got a really good structure, and it’s doing a lot of help, but I would like to take it to the next level,” she said.

What that means exactly … she’ll let the community tell her.

“I want to hear what (neighborhood residents) need first before I have my own ideas,” she saod. “My own ideas don’t mean anything. It’s what they need, and then that is my job to make that happen.”

The center provides programming for both youth and seniors as well as a food pantry and weekly community lunches. McKoy said she hopes to expand programming as well as ramp up fundraising.

“I am just really excited about this opportunity,” she said. “I plan to give it my all and work really hard and do my best.”