Dear Family and Friends of Central,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been six months since our lives changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pace and scope of our work has increased dramatically at Central Community House. Flexible, adaptable, and innovative does not begin to describe our amazing team.

YOUTH ENGAGEMENT
Programs have pivoted to serve new cohorts with, for example, TRANSIT ARTS (TA) successfully engaging 41 elementary aged youth through our Summer Inventors Cub, in addition to their regular programming.

The TRANSIT ARTS crew was also featured during the virtual Hot Times Festival on 9.13.2020.

After a summer of virtual engagement, Central has begun to reestablish onsite programming. This includes a one-on-one tutoring programming with youth from Ohio Avenue Elementary, in partnership with Urban Connections and First English Lutheran Church. We are currently working to expand this engagement further, with plans to be announced by October. We will continue to focus on academic and social emotional learning.

We also had an incredibly successful Back to School Bash. Despite its changed “drive thru” format, we served more youth than ever before — providing over 400 students with backpacks full of school supplies, and distributing 300 meals!

Special thanks to Alpha Eta Omega Alumni Chapter Columbus, OH (Iota Phi Theta), Junior League of Columbus, First Presbyterian Church of Grove City, CareSource, Olde Towne East Neighborhood Association, and First English Lutheran Church. We could not have pulled off this amazing event without you!

VILLAGE CENTRAL

Our Village Central team has persevered through adversity to support neighborhood senior citizens. At the beginning of our current crisis, challenges necessitated a focus on basic needs, including safe transport to grocery stores, the delivery of “care bags”, and “stoop” wellness checks. Over the last month, we have begun to shift back to also include social programming focused on reducing isolation. We have begun implementation of senior “pods”, with consistent participation of the same seniors each week in social activities outside at our Bryden location.

We have also recently launched a Senior Sunshine Fund, being used to purchase items that make the lives of Central seniors brighter. We would love to see you donate to the fund today to bring joy to one of Central’s seniors!

Finally, TRANSIT ARTS has performed curbside concerts at the homes of Central Seniors. One these concerts was part of a larger event bringing awareness to local violence, and seeking solutions, covered on Channel 6 News.   

Thanks to funding from the Franklin County Office on Aging, the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation, and Spectrum, Central has begun a Pilot Project to combat the digital divide that exists, providing Chromebooks and in person technology support to local Seniors (40 seniors to-date). Concurrently, we are developing consistent, fun, virtual programming to maintain meaningful engagement with our Village Central family. This will include book clubs, Bingo, cooking classes, Tai Chi, arts/crafts activities, and more.

To keep up to date on the efforts of Village Central, check out our Central Post.

FAMILY STABILIZATION
Our Family Stabilization program has increased their Utility Assistance support dramatically as a result of funding from the City of Columbus, disbursing $46,423 over the last 5 weeks; and is partnering with I

MPACT Community Action to access rental assistance support through the HOPE Fund to prevent evictions. These resources, in addition to those from FEMA, have resulted in $101,655 disbursed to 136 participants since the beginning of March.

Parenting classes have resumed, with additional classes added to meet demand. Virtual Resource Management classes have also been well attended, with panels that have included City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown; Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano; City of Columbus School Board Member, Michael Cole; and CEO of PrimaryOne Health, Charleta Tavares. Safe onsite small group programming has begun, which has included Meditation in the Park and an outdoor movie night at our Bryden location.

Since March 1, 2020, Central staff have contributed 3,265 of direct service hours that have resulted in the reduction of 2,931 barriers. These services have prevented eviction, ensured food security, addressed transportation barriers, combatted isolation, increased access to education, prevented/reduced health issues, and more.

ACADEMY FOR COMMUNITY ENTREPRENEURS (ACE)
ACE has continued its support for individuals who want to start or expand a small business. During the current pandemic, these services are more important than ever. Programming creates a mechanism for individuals to create jobs, while meeting the unique needs of small businesses during this time as they adapt to online platforms, renovate or create safe spaces, and or rethink marketing strategies.  Since March 1, the ACE program has served 44 people through online courses and technical assistance. Currently 17 are part of our business planning cohort working on clear business and product descriptions, sales forecasts, marketing plans, competitor analyses and more. We hope you can join us virtually for the cohort’s graduation ceremony on November 12th from 6:30 – 8:00 PM.

UPCOMING EVENTS
Central continues to offer Community Dinners utilizing a safe “grab and go” format, with upcoming dinners to be disbursed on September 30th and October 28th from 6-7pm, first come first serve.

Village Central offers Virtual Chats for local seniors every Monday at 11am. (Click on this link on Monday at 11am to join. Or contact Roderick Aldridge at raldridge@cchouse.org to learn more.)

If you’re looking to start your journey planning or expanding a business, our next orientation for the Academy for Community Entrepreneurs (ACE) will be Tuesday, October 13th from 6:00 – 7:30 PM. Visit the ACE program page to register, or learn about other workshops offered.

Starting in October, we will be implementing an exciting new initiative in collaboration with the Commission on Black Girls. This will include engagement with 24 girls, who will be split into groups of 6-8. Over a 6-week period of Saturday engagement, TRANIST ARTS (TA) will provide guided conversations and creative activities to help the girls envision how they see themselves and/or want to see themselves in the future. An idea brought to us by a group of TA girls will then be implemented — mobile hairstylist, Queen Roshae will style each girl’s hair, immediately before having a professional portrait taken by renowned photographer Tariq Tarey. The portrait will represent the intentions they set for their future self. TA will then engage them in painting workshops where they will paint their self-portraits on canvas, based on their portraits, to accompany a vision boardcreated in TA writing workshops.

Finally, Central Community House is proud to join a broad coalition of organizations in Ohio to sponsor “Taking White Supremacy to Court: The Charlottesville Case. an online event led by Integrity First America (IFA). Please join us on Monday, September 21st at 12pm ET

The support Central has received over the last months has been generous, to say the least. The Columbus Foundation, United Way, City of Columbus, and Franklin County have increased their contributions at a time when we need it the most. Recent, new funding from the Women’s Fund, Cardinal Health, Harry C Moores, Spectrum, and the People’s Bank Foundation have also helped us “step up” to meet increased needs. Volunteer support in the form of tutors, gardeners, and event engagement has increased our capacity.

In addition, on Monday, Columbus City Council approved a $933,000 investment in Central’s Main Street facility through the Community Development Block Grant program. These funds will provide needed upgrades to the roof, HVAC, fire and security alarm systems and more, and ensure that Central can remain a safe and supportive place for our community for many years to come.

We are humbled, thankful, and just a little bit tired. But the evictions prevented, meals delivered, songs sung, smiles received, and virtual hugs make it all worthwhile. We know we still have a long fall and winter ahead, but with partners like you, we also know we will come out stronger on the other side.

If you are in a place to give support, we hope you will donate so we can continue to persevere and meet the needs of neighbors in our community. Your donation means more than ever.

With deep thanks, and warm regards,

Tammy Forrest, Ph.D.
Executive Director

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