Dear Friends of Central,

This last month has been an exciting, somewhat hot then somewhat wet, whirlwind of a month.

There are days when it feels like Day 10,000 and others that feel like Day 2. Fortunately, when it is the latter, leadership and partners have shown me the way. For that I am grateful.

We have had celebrations, back-to-school programming and built new partnerships.

As many of you know, August 29 was the Columbus Foundation’s Big Table Event. Central didn’t just host one table, but five! Much of the conversation focused on what is working and what should be replicated. For instance, youth and senior groups demonstrate how the power of community can help one overcome adversity, silos are coming together, organizations are partnering, and the neighborhood feels safer than ever before. There were, though, areas of angst, and in particular:

  • Families experience barriers navigating support systems at Columbus Public Schools. In discussing instances of youth suspensions, participants asked how we can treat the behavioral symptoms of trauma and poverty the way we treat food insecurity with school meals, or academic challenges with afterschool homework support? During this discussion, I couldn’t help but think about the organic therapy of the arts in all its forms we see every day here. What if we had a licensed art therapist at Central? Would it transform and empower and address challenges in an asset-focused way?
  • Families are feeling the tensions associated with development, and seek to understand how the investment in moderate-high income housing and infrastructure will balance with investment in the low-to-moderate income community. We are doing our part to develop programs and seek funding to combat some of these pressures. We hope to have positive news in the months ahead.
  • At Transit Arts, when discussing support young people need to meet their potential, themes emerged around equal access to resources like mentors and transportation.

Addressing some of the challenges discussed at our Big Table meetings, I also had the pleasure of joining a group working to solve critical challenges faced by black girls in our community. This group was genuine and smart. Thank you, Columbus City Councilmember Priscilla Tyson, for leading a groundbreaking effort in the form of a Commission on Black Girls. Congratulations to a long-time partner of Central, Fran Frazier of the Rise Sister Rise research-based initiative, who has been appointed as co-chair of the Commission. We will not sit on the sidelines, but promise to support this work actively to build our future leaders.

While heat and rain tried us this month, we persevered and enjoyed doing so. We opened up early when Columbus City Schools dismissed early due to excessive heat. And, while it did rain on our Children’s Parade, it did not rain on our fun. Crafts, face painting, music, food, and a traveling library filled the halls of our Main Street building. And following this, Transit Arts “hit it out of the park” with their performance at the Hot Times Festival, under a nice big tent!

The day was a special one. We came together and celebrated what matters most – our children, our community, our health and happiness, and our time together. We are grateful to all the volunteers and staff who made it possible. Thanks to the Puffin Foundation for sponsoring the event.

Finally, this month the Mayor of Bexley, Ben Kessler, visited Central’s Main Street and English Center locations. He came with openness and a listening ear. He learned from clients about their journey and resilience, and from staff about their commitment to ensuring clients have access to the best services regardless of their socioeconomic status. He offered his partnership. Demonstrating his appreciation and commitment, he has also come back with his family to participate in Transit Arts programming. We are looking forward working together in the years ahead.

While this is only a snippet of the magic going on here, we hope it gives you a feel for our direction and commitment to you and our community.

To keep up with our goings on, if you haven’t yet:

And, if you know a dynamic individual who matches our open AmeriCorps VISTA position, send them our way!

Until next month…

Tammy

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