|Mayor Dale Johnson with Christine Monroe, winner of this year's Mayor's Award.|
Christine Monroe, director of the Green River Community Center, was nominated for the Governors Awards in the Humanities by Mayor Dale Johnson. Monroe received the Mayor's Award at a ceremony at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City on Nov. 9. She was one of 22 awardees in the state.
When asked why he nominated Monroe for the Governors Awards in the Humanities, Mayor Johnson responded "Because she sits home, eats Bon-Bons and watches TV," then he laughed for a while. Johnson went on to explain that in actuality the opposite was true. "She has worked tirelessly for the past 18 months to establish a community center and has done an excellent job.
"Humanities means preserving one's heritage. Several times last summer I visited the community center. There were youth ranging in age from five to 13, reading, doing crafts and logic games. The grand finale was a play adapted by Abigail Dunham, a 12 year old who comes into the center, being performed by the youth about events they had learned about the Civil War in the reading program here at the center," Johnson said.
Monroe started with the idea that Green River needed a place for the citizens of Green River to go and learn, be safe and warm, and have fun. She decided to investigate to see if there was some way she could meet this need. She approached the Gideon Baptists about a vacant building and convinced them to lend it to her for two years. Monroe applied for and received grants from the Commission of Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Grand County Recreation, the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, United Way, American Youth Soccer Organization and the city.
In 18 months, Monroe has created a community center that truly has something for everyone. During the day, there are bingo, beading classes, book club, speakers and special events, walking for life, bridge, bunco and parenting classes. After school, for the children, Monroe has scheduled girl scouts, Green River After School Program, 4-H horse club, drumming, soccer and chess. A stable in town has enabled 16-20 children who have never ridden horses to get acquainted with the animals and develop new heritage skills.
On the weekends, Monroe and her staff take residents on field trips to interesting places around the area such as the John Wesley Powell museum and dinners in Moab. The 15 passenger van which was purchased with grants from CCJJ and Grand County is also used to transport the kids to soccer games and evening outings.
The children who come to the center, for whatever reason, learn to be responsible for the upkeep and cleaning of the center. They take pride in what is theirs. There are also video games and a foosball table for the kids.
This past summer, the children of Green River cultivated a plot of land in back of the center and learned how to manage a garden from planting the seeds to harvesting and preserving the vegetables. There are also computers available with internet access available for the school aged kids to help with their homework. Now that the center is a reality, Monroe and her staff do not plan to stop there. They plan to raise enough money to build a new center with a basketball court, four lanes of bowling and classrooms. Monroe is working with the College of Eastern Utah and Utah State University to bring in classes for residents who want to continue their education.
The agreement to use the building is up in April, so funding and grants are in the forefront. Green River City has helped, but Mayor Johnson said the help was minimal and Monroe has served as grant writer and center director. Since 40 percent of the town live in poverty, no cost entertainment is the utmost concern and Monroe's knowledge of grants is very helpful. Activities are no cost or low cost and scholarships are always available.
Monroe credits her marvelous staff, Joni Pace, Sarah Burnett, Terry Coppin, Karen Smith and Mary Wilmarth for making the center a success. Just recently, Monroe has received grants from the Department of Workforce Services and the Center for Disease Control that will allow the hiring of four more employees. Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) provides the services of Smith and Wilmarth.