Celebrate Central’s Community Assistance Foundation

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By Beth Fussell

The Central Community Assistance Foundation began as an idea from Central Community Schools employee Dr. Janet Stevens.  Through her work with Central area schools and with various federal programs, Dr. Stevens began to notice that there are children in Central schools whose needs are not being met in areas like clothing, school supplies, and food.  During the 2007-2008 school year, seven children were found to be in need of assistance in these areas, though there may have been more children whose needs went unidentified.  That number has now grown to over 100 children.  The more she looked into the situation, the more Dr. Stevens realized that these needs often extend beyond these children to entire families here in Central.  This realization was the beginning of a process that would lead to the creation of the Central Community Assistance Foundation.

 Dr. Stevens has lived in Central for 9 years now, and she has continued to be impressed by the generosity of our community.  Every time there is a need, Central residents come forward to give what they can for the cause.  With this knowledge, Dr. Stevens felt that a difference could be made if she found the right people to help.  She first approached the Central Area Pastors Association (CAPA) for ideas about what resources were available to improve the situations of these children and their families.  The first meeting on the subject was held with the help of CAPA, and a small group of about 15 people were in attendance.

Since then, the small group has grown and has become the Central Community Assistance Foundation.  Two more meetings were held after the original, and interest has grown to nearly 100 people.  Brockwell Bone of Bone Marketing has volunteered to donate and run a website for the Foundation so that the community can be regularly updated on the group’s progress and needs.  Bylaws have been written with the help of Phil Miley and Frank Ard.  These same two people have also volunteered their time to help the Foundation file for incorporation and apply for non-profit status.  These applications are currently in the process of getting approval.  A Board of Directors has been formed.  According to the bylaws, the Board will always have 2 members from CAPA, 2 from the Central Community School System, 3 members from the Central business community, 2 members from the community, and 1 member from City Hall nominated by the Mayor.  The Board should represent a cross section of the Central community so that no viewpoint goes unnoticed and all available resources can be accessed.  In order to keep politics from becoming the focus of the Foundation, the Mayor’s appointee will not be a voting member of the Board.  Also, no elected political official will be allowed to serve on the Board of Directors.  The current Board of Directors include John Green (Chairperson), Janet Stevens (Founder and Vice Chairperson), Frank Ard (Treasurer), Ron Erickson (Secretary), Terry Hebert, Bob Lansing, Dick Metz, Jeff Stanfill, Rhonda Taylor, and David Barrow (non-voting member).

The next public meeting for the Central Community Assistance Foundation will be held some time in the fall.  At that meeting, committees will be discussed that address the different areas in which children and their families may need assistance.  This may include clothing, food, health needs, emergency housing and coordination, mentoring, policies and procedures, storage, and communication.  The Foundation will attempt in the future to meet all of these needs to the best of its ability.  This sort of help will only be offered to students and families living in the Central School District, but children do not have to attend public school to benefit from these resources.  St. Alphonsus and Central Private School students are also eligible to receive assistance.  If you feel that you are in need of this sort of assistance or if you know someone who is, please contact Dr. Janet Stevens or Chairperson John Green at 315-3681 or 337-4282, respectively.

The biggest need in our school community right now is school uniforms.  School starts next month, and there are many children who do not have enough, if any, uniforms to wear.  If you have new or gently used uniforms that you would like to donate, please drop them off at the Central Community School Board office on Hooper Road or at any Central church, and let them know that the uniforms are for the Central Community Assistance Foundation.  Uniforms needed include those for all Central Community public schools, St. Alphonsus Catholic School, and Central Private School.  The staff at Central Cleaners has volunteered to clean the donated uniforms at no charge, and Dale Sands of Cross Threads offered to store the uniforms until they can be given to the children who need them.  The generosity of these people is greatly appreciated.  School supplies are always needed for these children and may be donated at the same locations as the uniforms.

The Foundation is currently unable to accept monetary donations, as the incorporation and non-profit applications are still pending.  Items aside from school uniforms and supplies cannot be collected at this time, as there is currently no place to store the donations.  This will change in the future when the Foundation has had more meetings and has become better established.  In the mean time, if you know of a place where donations can be stored and easily accessed by Foundation members, please contact Dr. Janet Stevens at 315-3681.

Chairperson John Green said that he truly hopes that this Foundation can become a way to directly impact the lives of these children and families.  He wants each person to feel personally cared for and helped, and he and Dr. Stevens are confident that Central citizens will step forward to make this happen.  Please consider getting involved in the Central Community Assistance Foundation by attending the meeting in the fall (date and time to be announced), or by donating uniforms and supplies for the kids.  Thank you to the Central community for the outpouring of support that you all show for each other when a need in our city or our schools is brought to light.   

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