Unity Community Center

The Best Place Yet!

The Unity Community Center cultivates an interdependent neighborhood that is empowered, inspired, and connected through opportunities for individuals, youth, and families.

As an after-school site, Unity offers a positive, structured learning environment for youth 5-18 years old.

During the summer, week-long enrichment camps are offered. For details about registering for these programs, please contact local staff at (309) 862-4041. 

Unity Community Center
632 Orlando Avenue
Normal, IL 61761


Unity community Center has open fall 2024 enrollment!
¡El Centro Comunitario Unity tiene inscripción abierta para otoño 2024!
Le Centre Communautaire Unity a ouvert l’inscription pour l’automne 2024!

Unity's Story

Celebrating 21 years of being the “Best Place Yet”

Unity Community Center is celebrating their 21st year in 2024. It had humble beginnings and today, is still a thriving, growing community center in North Normal.

Unity was the sole brainchild of former Extension staff, Kathy Johnson. Kathy was a single mother living in the Orlando Avenue area and saw first-hand the need for youth and families in the neighborhood. Kathy first attempted to offer 4-H programming in centers located in three of the apartment complexes in that same area. After much planning and promoting, no one showed up to the offered programs. Sadly, the neighborhood and community suffered a tragedy. This event solidified Kathy’s vision and fueled her passion to start an after-school center. She went to the Extension County Director and shared her vision, and was told if she could find fiscal support, that the U of I Extension in McLean County would match it and be the lead agency.

Kathy found a three-suite building that had a vacancy. The building also housed the Normal Police substation and a laundry mat. She contacted the property owner who supported the idea and gave her time to find resources to pay the rent. Kathy began forming partnerships with the Town of Normal, Unit 5 school district, local churches, and businesses including State Farm. The momentum and excitement could not be contained and more partners came to Kathy wanting to help, including Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Heartland Community College. These new partnerships came with monetary or in-kind donations and along with awarded grants, Unity opened its doors June of 2003. The opening was celebrated with an Orlando Block Party where there was a contest to name the center and Unity Community Center-The Best Place Yet was born!

Although Kathy moved on from Extension, others share her passion and today, the Unity Community Center encompasses all three suites of its original building, taking over both the vacated laundry mat and a police substation. Our partnerships also remain strong with support including teaching classes to our youth, donations, national recognition of partnerships and projects, and more. Unity started with one full-time staff person and now has three, as the number of youth has increased. We cannot wait to see what is in store for Unity this year!

Unity Programming

Unity offers programs to both youth and adults from Monday through Friday.

Youth Programs:

  • Tutoring
  • Civic Engagement
  • Enrichment Classes
  • 4-H Future Leaders
  • Children's Discovery Museum
  • Foreign Language Lessons
  • Music
  • Healthy Living
  • Financial Literacy
  • Summer Enrichment Camps
Garden Post Signs

Garden and Produce at Unity

In the year 2023, Unity donated over 2000lbs of food. This produce is accessible to the public and includes a wide range of food. Throughout the summer, produce becomes available for community members to pick up at Unity and continues through the fall with varying types of produce. 

The Unity garden becomes fruitful with peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, dry beans, and sweet corn. Later in the growing season, produce such as tomatillos, winter squash, carrots, radishes, turnips, jack-o-lanterns, and more can be found. Recipe cards are available upon request for making delicious meals that are also healthy.


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