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Montford Point Marines close to saving chapter hall thanks to Mendoza donation

Sharon Stokes-Parry (from left), Frank Thrasher, James Reynolds and Paul Knox

Sharon Stokes-Parry (far left), Frank Thrasher, James Reynolds and Paul Knox at the Montford Point Marines veteran center in Englewood. | Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

Sharon Stokes-Parry, the chapter president of the Montford Point Marine Association, Inc. Chicago Chapter No. 2, made a special plea to a higher power to help keep the doors open at their chapter hall as owed back taxes and mounting repair costs loomed.

She says she prayed that a “Montford Point Angel” would save the building they had called home for 35 years.

As an explosive scandal continued to unfold at City Hall, Stokes-Parry got an unexpected phone call from mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza to offer the Montford Point Marines more than $140,000 to help them keep the keys to their building.

RELATED: Mendoza purges herself of $141,550 from Solis and company his sister founded

“I’m in tears. Tears of relief, along with smiles and happiness,” Stokes-Parry told the Sun-Times Thursday morning after her phone call with Mendoza. “We knew there was a ‘Montford Point Marine angel’ out there, but we didn’t know it would be her.”

“I normally don’t answer the phone for numbers I don’t recognize, but since I’ve been in a fundraising trend, I answer every phone call now,” Stokes-Parry said.

Mendoza made the donation Thursday to reflect the sum of campaign contributions she’s received over the years from Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and affiliated groups after news broke that he had played a key role in the federal investigation of fellow city councilman Ald. Edward Burke (14th).

“She didn’t have to do this. She could’ve just given the money to charity,” Stokes-Parry said. “She told me she read the Sun-Times story about our chapter house and she and her husband wanted to help.”

Montford Point started a GoFundMe account in November hoping to raise $200,000 to pay off the $75,000 in property taxes they owed and fund some much-needed building repairs.

Since November, the Chicago Montford Point Marine chapter has raised $29,429 in individual donations. With Mendoza’s $141,550 contribution, the group is now just $29,000 short of their goal.

“We’re in close, striking distance now,” Stokes-Parry said. “When we started this, I was hoping to pay off the $75,000 we owed in taxes. We’re a lot closer than we hoped to be.”