Local Settlement House Expands Programs; Meets Community Needs

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The recent closing of 13 recreation centers in the City of Columbus has prompted some of the city’s Settlement Houses to adjust their programming. Settlement Houses are privately funded neighborhood based community centers. There are seven Settlement Houses in the Columbus area. They offer a variety of social programs to those in need. Collectively, the seven Settlement Houses serve nearly 54-thousand people annually. The Central Community House on the city’s east side has been around for more than 70 years. Liz Hughes-Weaver is the development director. “Settlement Houses traditionally serve underprivileged neighborhoods, so they’re always in need. But the economy’s hitting people even harder. You lose your job, it’s harder to find a new job. So, we definitely are seeing more people come through the doors”

Hughes-Weaver says what they don’t do is patch problems; they do look at the big picture. “As you know, a family in need won’t just need food, I mean, they would need rent assistance, maybe somewhere to put their child while they look for a new job. So, it’s really a holistic approach.”

That approach means constantly evaluating the neighborhoods needs. Currently some neighborhoods need programs and activities to fill the void left when the city closed 13 recreation centers earlier this year. Central Community House is now expanding some of their programs. CCH’s youth program coordinator Nikki Crowder says the Saturday programs are particularly a nice resource for parents. “It’s a free service so, you can bring your kids out to enjoy different activities. It can be a family event or you just want to get away from the kids. It also can be a setting for the parents to just come in and relax. If you just want to drop your kids off, they are in a safe environment for a couple hours.”

The Central Community House offers lots of programs that the kids will enjoy. There’s tutoring and even some school related things to do like science projects. They have a double dutch team as well as other recreational activities.

There’s also the youth based Transit Arts Program. Student artist Sam Taylor has been a part of the program for several years. Taylor is appreciative of the program and how it’s helped him to grow. “It’s a great opportunity to learn art and teach art, cause I’ve actually been given permission to teach.”

Like other Settlement Houses, Central Community House can’t do it all, but they do offer a lot says Hughes-Weaver. “People find real assistance that they need. They might fall on hard times. Can’t pay their rent and they may be able to find assistance here. We’ll do intake and referrals so if we don’t have a specific program that might address that issue, we’ll find you someone who can help you.”

For the neighborhoods where there are Settlement Houses, it should be nice to know that there’s a place where families can take advantage of learning new things like computer technology, get a bite to eat at a dinner and let the kids get creative with an arts project. Especially since there is no cost for any of those programs.

And although the city shutdown several recreation centers, at least some of the Settlement Houses are working to pick up the slack. They continue to provide an outlet for children and families during these touch economic times.