Dear Family and Friends of Central,

2020 was a year like no other, filled with sweat, tears, laughter, and kindness. The year started off strong. In addition to a full calendar of regularly scheduled programming, we added activities like Thai Chi, Healthy Cooking Classes, a collaborative event with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, tax time assistance, pet vaccination clinics, and an amazing community Black History Month Celebration. Tax Time Assistance; Black History Month Celebration

Tax Time Assistance;
Black History Month Celebration

Things shifted very quickly in March with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we shifted with it. Our priorities continued though, to include promoting fellowship and healthy dialogue, embracing assets, empowerment, and creating community. What felt like an impossible transition was a hard one, but also a growing moment for Central. We invested in technology like never before; created a delivery model that supported program activities; embraced “stoop check-ins” to visit with our neighbors; hosted meditation in the park; and sang and performed outdoors at our facilities, and through curbside concerts.

Senior Technology Education
Curbside Concerts

Renovations at our Bryden location supported outdoor art classes, book clubs, “weekly chats”, and gardening. We transitioned to “grab and go” community and holiday meals.
Bryden Renovations
Senior Outdoor Activities

And we hosted drive-thru “Back-to-school Bash” and “Candy and Costume” events that included DJ BHB, food, staff in costumes, and school supplies/gifts provided by our generous sponsors.

Back to School Bash
Back to School Bash

Candy & Costumes
Candy & Costumes

Zoom screens kept us connected to Central youth during the spring and summer, while we prepared to safely open our onsite Learning Enrichment Center for the fall. Despite the distance and remote learning, Central served 546 unique youth in 2020.

Learning Enrichment Center Activities

Central’s Academy for Community Entrepreneurs (ACE) had a seamless transition to a virtual model, one we found has addressed childcare and transportation barriers, and that likely will be an important part of ACE in the years ahead. In 2020, 94 jobs were either created or retained by ACE entrepreneurs and their businesses.

ACE Graduation on Zoom, with guest speaker, Council President Shannon Hardin

In December, we hosted our first successful virtual event – our annual Village Makers Awards honored those in our community who have given so much to Central, and who have acted as visionaries for us over the years. Rep. Joyce Beatty was honored as our Community Hero Award winner, for her commitment to racial justice and equity. In addition, the Isabelle Ridgway Foundation, Helen Owen (Ms. O.), and Baba Shongo were also honored for their contributions to the work of Central and their community. Watch the interview with Joyce Beatty, and read more about our award winners.

Village Maker Award Interview with Rep. Joyce Beatty

Programming continued to bring brightness to our lives, but the growing needs did bring some darkness, and Central staff worked long hours. Crisis engagement made up the core of our family stabilization engagement in 2020. We disbursed 1,102 meals; provided rental assistance and utility assistance to 326 individuals; and equipped 539 individuals with clothes, furniture, and other basic needs. We also provided seniors with 1,171 rides to grocery stores for food and other needs.  All in all, Central staff helped reduce over 2,800 barriers for neighbors in need.

Parenting classes were sought out and addressed challenges faced by many right now. Community forums created open dialogue about how to cope during COVID-19, highlighting relevant community resources. We worked hard to maintain outlets that resulted in peer support and friendships.

Packaging Holiday Meals

The financial health of our organization is strong. In 2020, funders were more generous than ever before, and our hard work was energized by the love and investment of our community. This year, Central Community House had its largest budget since 2010, totaling over $2 million, and 37% larger than our 2019 budget.

People’s Bank was one of our new funding partners in 2020

This, of course, is bittersweet. Even with these increases, we could not meet all of the great needs of the community.  But we did develop important niches that included creating efficiencies to get resources quickly into the community. We implemented a successful technology pilot with seniors, and navigated the technology challenges youth have faced. We further integrated the arts into all we do. And we supported each other, and in many ways grew closer while apart.

Central moms participate in an evening of painting and creative engagement.

Central saw increased, strong collaboration across departments in 2020. TRANSIT ARTS led the way as we worked to develop a virtual summer experience for youth, “The Inventors Club”. Youth programming staff supported increased case management. Family stabilization support was integrated into new TRANSIT ARTS programming, which utilized the arts and coaching/counseling to address “adultification” faced by Central girls. The Senior Program deepened its collaboration with TRANSIT ARTS, enhancing creative engagement. Virtual Open Mics were attended by families across all Central programs.

Seniors pick up supplies to use for craft activities.

Through the whirlwind of ups and downs, we persevered. We enhanced our experience, skills, and confidence. This, in combination with continued efforts to innovate and collaborate, ensure that in 2021 Central will continue to effectively support, and guide, the community through hard times.

We would not be where we are today without you; thank you for believing in us and prioritizing investment in all we do. We continue to be grateful, and humbled, by the trust and commitment we feel every day from those we engage and partner with.

Please continue to reach out if you need anything. And give, if you are able.

With deep thanks, and warm regards,

Tammy Forrest, Ph.D.
Executive Director

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