Alive Center—Helping People Connect with What Makes Them Come Alive

April 2015 View more

Kandice Henning, Executive Director

Kandice Henning, Executive Director

For years Naperville resident Kandice Henning has envisioned creating a place where people can connect and discover their passions. This month, her dream becomes a reality with the opening of the Alive Center at 500 W. 5th Avenue in Naperville. This new 5,000-square-foot facility, located just south of Naperville North High School, will house workshops, classes, and programs designed to inspire personal growth.

“I’ve always wanted to open a nonprofit community center that helps people focus on wellness and wellbeing,” said Kandice Henning, Alive Center executive director. “The concept really started coming together early last year when I was on a yoga retreat in Guatemala.” Henning returned home inspired and began moving forward with her plan. Things fell into place quickly once she found a facility that could accommodate a kitchen, meeting rooms, and a large gathering area. By the end of the year, she left her corporate job and was focusing on making her dream a reality.

As her vision began taking shape, people suggested she talk to NaperBridge, a nonprofit teen center in downtown Naperville. NaperBridge’s mission is to provide a safe place for teens to belong, create, perform, lead, play and be empowered. “Our visions are very similar,” Henning states. NaperBridge was quickly outgrowing its 600-square-foot location and held many of its events offsite. “When I brought Jeff Haake, NaperBridge’s board president, to the facility, his eyes lit up. Our very next conversation was about merging the two organizations together,” she recounts. “Our missions could not be more compatible,” said Jeff Haake. “Merging with the Alive Center provides both the space and the funding model needed to keep the NaperBridge vision alive.”

The Alive Center will offer programs for adults and teens to explore their passions and improve their lives. Classes will focus on stress reduction, nutrition, cooking, art, music, dance, gratitude practices, and meditation. In addition, the center will provide both life and wellness coaching for groups and individuals. Most adult classes will be scheduled during the day, allowing for teen drop-in hours after school and during the summer. Teens will also be able to take part in onsite concerts, talent shows, dances, and poetry slams. While most adult programs will be fee-based, the teen programs will mostly remain free and continue to be overseen by the NaperBridge student advisory board. Henning also plans on offering events that adults can participate in with their teens.

Practicing What She Preaches

Prior to founding Alive, Henning spent more than 25 years as an executive at Accenture and IBM. “I think a lot of adults turn 40 and wonder what they are doing with their lives.” She discovered her passion when she became a life coach and certified yoga teacher. “I am deeply passionate about helping people create the lives they desire by discovering their gifts and connecting with their best selves,” said Henning. As a mother of two teenage boys, she is also excited about mentoring youth. “I think back to when I was a teen and wish I knew then what I know now about the benefits of healthy living.”

How to Help

“Our biggest need right now is for adult volunteers to be in the center during teen drop-in hours and events,” said Henning. “It would be a great opportunity for retirees who would like to mentor teens.” Donations toward the building fund are also being accepted on Alive’s website.

Photo by Robyn Sheldon