HPNC has just entered its 110th year serving South Side youth! To celebrate this amazing legacy, we are sharing stories of volunteers and donors like youfor whom we are especially grateful.    


A story we really love is about a group of volunteers and donors who helped establish daily tutoring, homework help, (and even Pancake Breakfast) as core to the HPNC that we know and love today.

In the early 1960’s a group of local moms, including Hyde Park resident and long-time HPNC supporter, Mary Duplain, volunteered with hpnc in order to give extra help to kids who were struggling to read. Because HPNC was just a fraction of the size it is today, the volunteers’ work occurred in several off-site Study Centers. The Centers provided welcoming space for young people to drop-in after school for tutoring, homework help, or just to enjoy quiet time with a book. 

One of those centers, located within eyesight of HPNC’s main building, was slated to close when urban renewal demolished buildings along 55th Street. Wishing to continue their work, Mary and the other volunteers hoped to relocate the Study Center into HPNC’s main building. When challenged to raise the money necessary for the move, they planned a fundraiser – Pancake Day!

In the early years, Pancake Day (now known as Pancake Breakfast)required organizers to go from business to business and person to person for donations. One gave flour, one milk, another eggs.  Inspired by their common goal – securing funds for a permanent Study Center within HPNC – the volunteer moms helped to raise needed money and, at the same time, brought the entire community together over a shared meal. It was the beginning of a wonderful tradition that continues to this day!

 Thankfully, there’s no need to search out pancake ingredients anymore! Beginning in the late 1980’s our community grocers stepped in and today Hyde Park Produce donates everything! Thankfully, some things do get easier! Like Pancake Breakfast, decades after Mary and the others started HPNC’s Study Center, academic support for youth continues to be important to HPNC and the community that we serve. In fact, Academic Support is now written into the HPNC mission! It is one of the services that we are most proud to provide and one that parents most appreciate.

“As a single working mom, I am so thankful that HPNC helps my son with his homework. He has struggled a lot with reading but thanks to the HPNC tutors, he’s finally starting to read on his own!”   Ms. P., mother of a 2nd grader

In celebration of 110 years serving South Side youth, we thank people like Mary Duplain who’ve provided enduring support to HPNC and we thank you and each one of the volunteers and donors who make us what we are today! 


With your help HPNC is Building for the Future of our youth and Building for the Future of our shared community.