Dear Central Family,

It is the holiday season, and we wish you and your loved ones health, happiness, and peace in the new year.

The pace at Central has sped up, beginning with our Trick-or-Trunk event at the end of October, and very quickly moving on to Thanksgiving. On November 20th, Central staff worked hard to pack and distribute meals to over 100 families – a bag that included all of the ingredients needed to cook a Thanksgiving feast for the whole family.

Thanksgiving meals ready for pickup by Central families!

On November 28th, we also hosted a full house for a Thanksgiving community dinner. It smelled like holidays at home, with the aroma of turkey wafting throughout the building as staff and volunteers prepared a yummy meal with all the fixings! Toward the end of the month, the Christmas giving season began as we started to match families with gracious volunteers who ensured personally, or through their organizations, that children will get exactly what they requested from Santa. We are partnering with the Columbus Firefighters 4 Kids to sign up hundreds of additional families, ensuring Santa will come to their homes as well. The experience is a bittersweet one, seeing the deep need and granted “wishes”.

Volunteers from Morgan Stanley preparing Central’s Community Thanksgiving meal

While we have much more to be thankful for this month, I wanted to take a moment to highlight two special and unique accomplishments.

On November 15th, TRANSIT ARTS, led by Master Artist Barbara Fant, released their book, “Candor… Poetry to Pros(e)”. The book incorporated original art, including the work of Katerina Harris on the cover. Poetry contributions included the work of five contributors.  And while all were inspiring, I personally connected with one of the poets who read at the event. Christopher Layton brought the crowd into the life of an artist, so much so that we could feel the all-encompassing creative force consistently present and pushing itself to be born. He keenly illustrated both the beauty and the constant struggle present. The evening’s activities also included an exhibit of artworks created in workshops led by Master Artist, Richard Duarte Brown. 

Candor…Poetry to Pros(e) can be purchased for $10 during TRANSIT ARTS program hours (
As is always the case, I left the TRANSIT ARTS Carriage House inspired and wanting to build on the momentum Jackie Calderone and her TRANSIT ARTS family have built. This brings me to the next piece of good news.

Central will be welcoming a new funding partner and program in 2019. Thanks to a grant award from the Ohio CDC Association, Central will pilot a dynamic, thoughtful entrepreneurship program that builds upon the talents of “creatives,” defined broadly – e.g., fine artists, gallery owners, marketing professionals, chefs, apparel designers, and carpenters. More details coming soon!

Building on the arts theme, I want to also highlight an important policy item of which you may already be aware. Central has strong partnerships with the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) and Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) that includes critical in-kind and financial support for programs like TRANSIT ARTS and Art in the House. Supporting the proposed “ticket tax” is good for Central, and most importantly, Central families. Effectively challenging opposition, a Dispatch article from December 3rdstated, “at $1.25 per $25 ticket, that surcharge costing less than a candy bar will not drive away business as they suggest.” The reporter also considers important national context. Columbus is late to join a nationwide trend that includes critical, local revenue sources like the current tax proposed, to ensure a vibrant, growing local creative culture and economy. And life without art would be a sad, dreary place for Central youth, families and seniors.

Other highlights from November include:

§  Central kids learning wushu moves!

§  Central receiving an AmeriCorps Vista Award that has resulted in one VISTA placement at Central, full-time, for one year, to increase our capacity!

§  Increased engagement through Central’s Advocacy committee, seeking to help local seniors hold onto a critical asset – their home – and build family wealth. We welcome your participation as we work to solidify action items.

Events coming up include:

§  December 10 @ 6pm – Central Holiday Open House

§  December 13, 10am-1pm and 5pm-8pm – gift sign-up through Firefighters 4 Kids

§  December 17, 4-8pm – gift sign-up through Firefighters 4 Kids

§  December 18 @ 6:30pm – Transit Arts Open Mic and Arts Market

§  December 20 @5:30pm – Transit Arts Open House, Music & Poetry Jam, and Arts Market

§  December 20 @6pm – Neighborhood Network

The Dragon Phoenix Wushu Team at OSU guiding Central after-school kids through wushu moves

Finally, if you’d like to and are able, join Central’s holiday giving season and support local families in need through our Mighty Cause  fundraising platform. And if you are interested in designating your funds to a specific program or activity, we can guide you through this process as well. Email:

Until next month, and warm regards,

Tammy Forrest, Executive Director

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