Community Member

The Willie Mae Stokes Community Center

Micanopy, Florida

“Where education and caring happens,” the Willie Mae Stokes Community Center (WMSCC) is on a mission to serve its community’s needs and be a model for other rural communities on how to create resources and sustainable programs. WMSCC opened in 2017, providing a place for community assistance, particularly focused on the needs of young people in Micanopy, FL and surrounding communities. Spurred by the lack of youth activities, public transportation, and access to grocery stores — typical of small towns and rural areas — the grassroots nonprofit brings services and support to those in need. As evidenced by the 66 children who daily attend the after-school enrichment program, the 150 people who line up weekly for free boxes of food, the 60 who receive free health screenings and vaccinations quarterly at the mobile outreach clinics, and the 400 who enjoy a free sit-down Thanksgiving dinner each year — the WMSCC is committed to positively impacting its community and beyond.

Born and bred in Micanopy, WMSCC founder Chris Stokes knew early on that his small town offered few activities for kids and vowed once he was old enough to leave, he’d never come  back. Yet, after his military service he did return, only to see the same problems. Believing that one’s destiny is determined by the commitment to develop what is given — the opportunity to effect authentic change — Stokes started the WMSCC. The BIPOC-led volunteer organization has made an indelible impact on the community. In addition to the after-school program, food giveaways, and free health clinics, the group recently partnered with AT&T to provide 68 laptops to children. The WMSCC hopes to help residents weatherize homes for energy efficiency and access solar power. As Stokes frequently says of the organization named in honor of his mother, “At the end of the day, I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, Black or White, if there’s a need, we want to be able to provide and meet that need.”

Outside the Willie Mae Stokes Community Center. Photo Courtesy of WMSCC

For more information:

Gainesville, law enforcement unveil gun violence responses – Main Street Daily News, May 2024

Gainesville awards $200,000 in grants as part of national project – Main Street Daily News, November 2023

Community center coming to Micanopy – Main Street Daily News December, 2017

Stewart Sinclair

Stewart Sinclair

Stewart L. Sinclair is a writer, editor and educator from Ventura, California. His essays, reportage and narrative nonfiction have appeared in Guernica, The Millions, The Morning News, The New Orleans Review, Creative Nonfiction’s “True Story” series and elsewhere.


Bishop Christopher Stokes


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