Successful birthday party idea turns into community event in Rockford

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 5:31 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - What started as one woman’s birthday party for her son, turns into an event designed to bring a community together.

Porsche Goiston’s movie night birthday party for her son turned out to be a major success, but she wondered “Why should she limit the guest list and why only hold it once a year?”

That’s when “Movies at the Grove” began, which kicked off at 7 p.m. Friday with the screening of “The Black Panther.”

“I have a home daycare, so kids are normally with me. So when I saw the kids were so excited they were so involved, they were giving me ideas, so I put everything I can together and thought, ok we can do it,” Goiston said.

When the Rockford Police Department and the mentoring group “Family to Family” heard about it, they wanted to help out. Both groups will provide crews for movie night.

“I think it’s important for us to provide opportunities where community groups, individuals, and faith-based organizations can come together to make the whole community a better place,” Donette Nailor, a volunteer with Family to Family, said.

The two-day event includes a creative writing workshop with poet Christopher D. Sims. Organizers say the workshop is all about connecting black youth, as well as empowering and guiding them toward success.

“What I’m hoping to do is to engage the youth, have them think of the growth as a Wakanda, or the setting of the movie black panther, and how they see themselves in that setting, and how they can use their creativity and their minds as part of that,” Sims told 23 News.

For Goiston, she’s just happy her kids and others from Rockford will have something fun to look forward to.

“We can come together instead of having them instead of going out there and doing god knows what you know? We can come together as a community, spend time, their families can come and we can do it together,” she said.

The writing workshop happens at 2 p.m. Saturday. The next free movie will be the new “Minions/The Rise of Gru” on October 7 at the Grove Community Center on South New Towne Drive in Rockford.