The East Toledo Family Center

On September 9, 1971, a lease was signed for a new East Toledo Family Center at its present site on the corner of Varland, one-half mile down East Broadway from the location of the former Neighborhood House. It was the beginning of a new era.

Already in September 1966 three to five acres of Navarre Park were requested for a $360,000 new Family Center. Mayor Potter at that time approved of the proposal. By the following summer an agreement was reached with the city to move ahead with the now $450,000 project. A new building would be built that the City would own, plans were drawn up by Toledo architect Horace Wachter, and a HUD grant was applied for. Three years later, on June 24, 1971, the $602,000 building was near completion. And finally on September 18th the new East Toledo Family Center was dedicated with 500 people in attendance.

The first annual meeting was held at the Center in January 1973, at which time Rev. Philip Lewis of Eastminster Presbyterian Church was given the first Community Service Award. It was reported that the Center was open 70 hours a week, had 145 pre-school children, 22 groups meeting in the building, 88 people in dancing classes, and a total membership of 1,696. In addition, there were many athletic teams using the large new gymnasium and dozens of other activities as well.

Under the agreement with the City of Toledo in 1971, the Recreation Department would provide staff, equipment, and supplies. But by the end of 1980, the City was in a financial crisis and the Family Center faced closing. Other support came in, however, and the Center was able to continue its 80-yearold ministry to the community. In May 1981, a 35th Anniversary Appreciation Dinner was held for its long-time Director, Warren Densmore. Under Mr. Densmore’s long tenure the Neighborhood HouseFamily Center experienced continued growth and expansion.

Another important event at the Center during the 1980s was the opening of the Navarre Shelter House as a Senior Center in 1986. And of course there were numerous activities and programs at the Center, including soccer banquets, day camp, Halloween parties, and many more. Also, during these years Roger Dodsworth became head of maintenance at the Center and has continued his employment at ETFC for over 25 years.

But by the late 1980s the Center experienced another financial crisis. On February 2, 1989, it was reported that the United Way was withholding $80,000 of its funding “because of financial management problems that the agency has failed to resolve.” But the Family Center didn’t close. A strong board of Directors took action, and Tim Yenrick, still in his twenties, was hired as the new director. A Blade editorial from January 1990 noticed the “fresh attitude and new enthusiasm which arrived the same day new Executive Director Tim Yenrick came on board.” Soon the pre-school was going strong, there were before and after school programs for elementary students, tutoring and homework programs, monthly teen nights, summer day camp, support programs for the community, amd expanded soccer, softball, basketball, and other athletic activities. Also, on April 26, 1990, the first annual Warren Densmore Scholarship Dinner was held. This annual dinner has become an important tradition at the Center.

There were now three full-time staff, nine part-time staff members, 23 permanent volunteers, and an active Board of Directors. With strong leadership, the East Toledo Family Center was again on firm footing to begin the last decade of the 20th century.