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Last updated: September 06. 2013 7:54PM - 40 Views

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KATE LIEBERS

Staff Writer

If Delaware City Council approves leasing the property to Second Ward Community Initiative (SWCI), a rarely used city building could soon take on a different community function

Council is scheduled to consider a resolution Monday that would convert the building into a community center.

“This is an opportunity for the city and a neighborhood to potentially partner on a project that would be beneficial to neighbors as well as the greater city,” said city spokesperson Lee Yoakum.

“(The benefits) would include making use of an under-utilized city property, and improvements to the building that SWCI has pledged to make,” Yoakum said.

Those improvements include adding a second permanent bathroom in order to bring the building up to code.

The SWCI hopes to use the building to connect people with the local agencies that could help them prosper.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” said SWCI project coordinator Tracey Sumner Sr. “We’re trying to bring the services that are already here in the community closer to home.”

One top priority would be student education, Sumner said. He said SWCI will seek volunteers who can help youth with reading and math, especially.

Another priority would be assisting senior citizens, providing a place for them to exercise, socialize, and learn how to stay healthy, Sumner said.

In the future, SWCI hopes to include specialized programs hosted by trained staff. For example, Sumner said, the SWCI center could be a meeting place for substance abuse recovery groups, or where financial experts advise about managing accounts.

Another goal includes providing free or assisted medical care from the site.

“As we are growing, we want to break down the walls,” said Sumner, referring to the obstacles that some may face before getting the help they need.

“SWCI is one of the vehicles to help bridge the gap,” Sumner continued.

The center could eventually be open seven days a week, Sumner said. Several agencies have already expressed their willingness to support the project, including Action for Children, Andrews House, Banks Farm Market, Central Ohio Symphony, Grace Clinic, Habitat for Humanity and Ohio Wesleyan University, Sumner said.

Area churches are also supported SWCI, including Acts 17:28 Ministries, Second Baptist Church, Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Outreach Christian Center and The Word Church of Columbus.

Some of the large article donations such as furniture and computers are already at the 50 Ross Street location.

Sumner said he anticipates that about 25 to 30 youth and about 10 to 15 seniors will visit each day.

Council is expected to review the SWCI budget plans Monday to make sure they are financially sound and attainable.

If the lease is approved, Sumner said the next challenge will be to collect volunteers.

Sumner said SWCI hopes to be opening its doors by the end of the year.

For more information, visit swcidelaware.org or search for Second Ward Community Initiative on Facebook.

kliebers@delgazette.com


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