The East Toledo Family Center

Kim has continued her predecessors’ commitment to collaboration by bringing in additional partnerships and programs to offer to the community. Programs that are now housed at the ETFC included Phoenix Academy, Heartbeat, HEAP and WIC. The Center also began offering GED programming on-site through Owens Community College and now through Penta Adult Services. As Toledo Public Schools began requiring all students to wear uniforms to school, the Center began holding annual uniform swaps. A private donation started our “Blankets for Babies” program in which handmade blankets were made and given to families in our Help Me Grow program. This program has expanded from two Service Coordinators to six Service Coordinators and two Home Visitors.

During this time, we partnered with several other groups to offer various parenting education workshops such as WGTE’s Ready to Read, Getting Ahead classes with the Community Partnership and UT/MCO’s Parents Raising Safe Kids. In 2006, our Preschool Program participated in the State of Ohio’s new rating program called “Step Up to Quality”. Our program received the highest rating of 3 stars. Also during this year, we expanded our preschool program to offer the Early Learning Initiative program to serve more children.

The Senior Center, under the direction of Mary Wolff, was adding new programs on a regular basis as the aging population grew. The Senior Sunrise Club was formed, monthly evening meal, week long trips and many more increasing the number of participants attending the Senior Center. In addition to new programs, $70,000 in donations and grants were raised to renovate the kitchen at the Senior Center. The Senior Home Repair Program helped many seniors for several summers in which our local area experiences sever flooding. A new water line in Navarre Park caused many players in our Senior Softball league to be unhappy as the fields were damaged. The agency worked closely with the players and the City of Toledo to make improvements over the course of the next several years. In 2007, Senior Center begin using a new swipe card/touch screen system for the participants to use on a daily basis. In 2012, the Senior Center celebrated its 20th anniversary with many of the founding members present.

The Center’s phone system was upgraded as well as a series of one day volunteer projects were held. Companies such as O-I, General Motors, FOX Toledo, HRC Manor Care and others volunteered their time to complete a number of projects at the Center, Senior Center and throughout East Toledo. Some of these projects included adding benches and trees by the ball diamonds, landscaping projects, painting the gym and assisting at the local schools.

Several members of the old Neighborhood House approached Kim with an idea to hold an annual Neighborhood House Reunion to bring together those who attend the Neighborhood House as a child to relive old memories. The first Reunion was planned and has been happening every year since. In 2008, the national economy began to decline.

The country entered into a state of recession around 2008 and Toledo was hit very hard. Funding decreased and needs increased. The Center experienced unexpected expenses such as escalating workers compensation costs, defined benefit payments and employee medical insurance that was nearly unaffordable. Tough decisions had to be made in order for the Center to survive and navigate the troubling economic times. Several other local nonprofits closed. The United Way stopped funding agencies and began to fund programs. The United Way began funding the Financial Stability Collaborative Program which offered coaching and workshop that were focused on budgeting and financial goal setting.

Staff reduction were made and streamlining operations was a priority. All senior services were now housed at the Senior Center and managed by Mary. The State of Ohio ended its funding for the ELI program in 2010, which lead to the Heffner Center closing and all the programs were moved to the Warren Densmore Building. The Toledo Police Department could no longer afford to place police officers in the Community Office here at ETFC. This allowed for additional office space for programs that were housed at Heffner to be relocated.

It was during this time that the Center partnered with several other East Toledo groups such as REERC, Neighborhood Housing Services, Dillion Corp. to create a plan for East Toledo called, “Connecting the Pieces”. Once the plan was created, it would be several years before anything would move forward because of the economy. In 2011, the pieces were picked up and a new initiative called, “One Voice for East Toledo” was started by the ETFC which was funded by LISC. Also during this year, two programs were ended. The TPS Alternative Program and the Opportunity Initiative. However, two new programs began including the Pathways Program which helped pregnant women give birth to healthy babies. The Strictly Teens program, which is now run by all volunteers, has traveled to Mississippi twice, Washington D.C., South Dakota, Wyoming, Texas and Maine.

The Center received several awards including the Prism Award for the Financial Stability Collaborative in 2012, Roger Dodsworth was named the Person of the Year by the Eastern Chamber of Commerce in 2013, and the Center received the Nonprofit Excellence Award from the Toledo Community Foundation in 2013, which was quite an honor. A grant also received from ProMedica to renovate the kitchen at the Warren Densmore Building, so that fresh fruits and vegetables could be offered.

In more recent years, the Board of Trustees underwent a fundraising assessment and implementing many of the recommendations from the assessment has been the priority. Society asks a lot of its community centers. To effectively and efficiently deliver support to members of the community. This is not an easy task. The work in not easy and failure in not an option. The Family Center has and always will accept this challenge and responsibility.