After growing up at Carver Community Center and later volunteering for the nonprofit, Dantá Rogers decided he wanted to pursue a career at the very place that meant so much to him
Rogers is now the executive director of the facility, and he is able to watch other youth and adults be impacted by the programs and services offered, as well as build friendships with those around him, much like he was able to do while growing up.
“I’m passionate about what I do. I don’t want people to think, ‘He’s just phony.’ Well, it’s pretty much me. I love Carver. I’ve been here all my life. When I say, ‘I’m a Carver kid,’ I am a Carver kid. I’ve been here ever since I was 6 or 7 years old,” Rogers said.
Growing up right across from Studebaker Park, next to the center, the facility became a second home to him where he spent many evenings playing basketball, learning to play pool and ping pong, and participating in other activities.
When Rogers started high school at Haworth, he continued to play basketball at the center, and the team had parties there every weekend. He won his first basketball trophy at Carver, he remembered, at Summerfest held in Studebaker Park.
As an adult, Rogers volunteered as a coach at the Carver Center for over 25 years. After considering a career change about five years ago, he asked the executive director at the time if there were any job openings. He soon became the program/assistant director and ended up learning more about the place, which made him appreciate it even more.
Rev. Henry A. Perry Sr., late pastor of Wayman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and principal of Douglass School, founded the Carver Center in 1947, naming it after his good friend Dr. George Washington Carver. Since it was a time of segregation, Douglass School was for African American children only. The school didn’t have a gym, so the children played basketball in the basement and ran “track” in the alley. Perry started Carver Center as a safe place for African American children to participate in recreational sports and educational activities.
“Our mission statement is ... ‘Building on the legacy of our community by promoting education, health, and well-being.’ You look at that, and that’s what we do today. That mission statement has been around for a while, and it’s pretty much what Rev. Perry’s vision was,” Rogers said.
Now as the executive director, Rogers continues to grow the sports and activities at the Carver Center. Soon, according to Rogers, the building will need to be expanded once again due to the popularity of the basketball leagues. Pickleball, a popular sport among senior citizens, also remains a favored recreational activity.
Something Rogers is especially proud of is the boxing program that he started in 2014. As someone who boxed as a young adult, Rogers is a certified coach, and Carver Center is now a USA-sanctioned location for bouts and shows. Additionally, under Rogers, a volleyball travel league was established last year.
“I think my drive is that when you’ve been around something so long, you want it to be successful. You want it to continue. We’re 70-years plus, and I want this place to be here another 70 years. It’s important.
“Anybody knows that I’m in partnership with everybody. We want to work together for the better of the community. I’m very energetic about what I do. I love people. I guess it’s what I was put here to do. I don’t take it for granted,” Rogers said.