Monday, August 15, 2011

Renowned artist returns to DXC to sign his work

There was a young man who came here to DXC, quite a number of years ago. He took part in activities – playing ping pong and doing crafts. He might have especially liked doing crafts. He had an artistic side to his nature as later events would show.

Last week, that young man – award winning Dayton artist James Pate -- now a renowned artist, returned to DXC to put his name on a painting he did to show his gratitude for those happy hours he spent here.

The mural, showing the Dayton skyline along with scenes of gardens, had no date on it and neither Mr. Pate nor our long-time staff members could remember just when he presented it to the center; we think it might have been 1996-97. But since the day it presented, it has been a focal point of DXC’s Common Room where it sat in a place of honor on the stage.

Mr. Pate had never signed this particular work, and, had it not been for the fond memories of a couple of staff member who remembered him, the importance of the painting might have been lost to all concerned. But Ms. Ruby and Ms. Goins did remember – with good thoughts – that young boy who had come here often and who had said thanks in the best way he knew how, so DXC Associate Executive Director Sarah Williams got in touch with Mr. Pate and asked him if he would come in to sign the painting.

It was important to have him do that, you see, because the painting is going to be donated next month to Montgomery County Public Health Department to be displayed in the lobby of the Reibold Building.

“We decided to do that for a couple of reasons,” said Sarah Williams, DXC Associate Executive Director. “For one thing, we don’t really have the ability or the expertise to care for the painting as it should be. But mostly, we felt that this work, that shows such a hopeful and sustainable future for Dayton, really needs to be in a place where more people can see it. It’s a beautiful work of art and art should be for everyone to enjoy.”

During his visit, Mr. Pate was able to enjoy a short reunion with Ms. Goins (Ms. Ruby had left for the day, unfortunately) and the two shared fond moments.

Mr. Pate grew up in Cincinnati, attending the School for the Creative and Performing Arts there, where he earned a scholarship for the Art Academy of Cincinnati. In 1997, at age 33, he moved to Dayton, where he has remained ever since.

He taught art at Col. White and has been an art consultant with Dayton Public Schools. Twice, he has been awarded Montgomery County Individual Artist Fellowship and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. His works are shown museums around the country.

“We really feel very honored to have an original work of art by such a respected artist,” Sarah said after meeting him. “And to be part of bringing his work to a much wider audience is really exciting.”

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another way to make the neighborhood beautiful

We’ve been doing a lot of beautification events this summer and we’ve talked about nearly all of them here on the blog. But neighborhood beautification can mean a lot more than patrolling the streets picking up trash or planting flowers. It can also involve art.

A few months ago, we were contacted by Tracey Obenour who, along with her husband, paints murals on buildings. She wanted to do a mural on the building over on East 5th Street building that would capture the spirit of the urban farm there and of urban farming in general. Of course, we were more than happy to agree.

The project was started in April, and the first week of August, we got an email from Tracey saying that the mural was about 90% finished and she wanted to know what we thought. We rushed right over and, as we drove into the lot, we had to smile.

Tracey’s mural certainly does capture the spirit and the essence of urban farming, and is beautiful to boot. It gives a whole, new, fresh look to a building that was serviceable but plain and, frankly, industrial. Now, it is cheerful and bright, and it will bring a touch of spring and summer even during the harshest of winter months.

While we were there, we took a look at the progress of the crops planted by volunteers this spring. Wow! Were we pleased! Tomato plants shoulder high, teeming with cheery and regular-sized fruit; beans that had grown, had been harvested by Ken and his volunteers; chives that were spreading over the ground, ready to reseed themselves; and even a couple of melons, tempting us in the summer heat.

Gardening has its pleasures, not the least of which is the witnessing of the growing and maturing process. To see a plant grow from a seedling to a mature, productive adult has the feel of a small, natural miracle and never fails to bring a smile.

Together with the great mural Tracey and her husband created, that small part of East 5th Street is a whole lot better than it was at the beginning of the year.

And we’re very thankful to Tracey, Ken, and of course, all the volunteers who made that possible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DXC hosts dedicated young interns from INROADS Intern Process who work in heat and humidity to make a better place for our students.

Neighborhoods don’t become littered and run down overnight. It takes a while. A discarded bottle here; a forgotten park there, houses abandoned one by one; it’s hardly noticeable until, “urban blight” has taken over.

Likewise, it takes more than a day or a weekend to restore a neighborhood to a state where the residents can feel proud they live there. It’s one lot at a time, one trash pile cleaned up, one less bottle in the gutter, and there are no short cuts. It takes people actually getting out into the neighborhood, bending over, picking up, cutting grass, weeds, even renegade trees, until, one empty lot, one block at a time.

That’s what’s been going on at Dayton Christian Center (DXC) over the summer. Over a period of four months, a number of deeply committed volunteers groups have dedicated they days to helping restore a neglected park, clean up trash, cut down high weeds, plant flowers, and spread mulch in the area of West Riverview and Ferguson Avenues to do their part to make a better world.

The chapter in this effort happened this past Saturday, July 23 when 19 young people came to DXC as part of the INROADS Intern Process and took part in three different projects.

One project was to clean up an illegal trash dump on one of the abandoned properties DXC has registered to care for. Another was recovering our playground with new safety mulch – we’re required by law to do that once a year – and the third project was redecorating the Teddy Bear Room.

Ignoring extreme temperatures – over 90 degrees – and equally high humidity, the young college students did the hard work of community beautification that others have started.

By the end of the day, every project was finished, and even though they were hot and tired, there was a smile on the face of each one of them. As they gathered for a group photo, they laughed about some of the day’s events, and spoke of how much they had enjoyed themselves. They even thanked us for letting them work so hard.

“We always cherish our volunteers,” Associate Executive Director Sarah Williams said afterwards, “but when you see young people like this spending the hottest part of the day mostly outdoors doing physical labor, and they are happy about it, it gives you a wonderful sense of hope. Of course we always thank our volunteers, and we really mean it – we’re always very grateful for whatever someone cares to give us. But sometimes, in cases like this, ‘thanks’ doesn’t seem like quite enough.”

This was DXC’s first partnership with the INROADS program, but very likely not the last.

“I really hope we can make this an annual event,” Williams said. “I know we’re extremely happy to have met everyone who came to help us out, and I hope it was an enjoyable day for them as well, so I hope we can keep on doing projects together.”

The INROADS Internship Process was created in 1970 by Frank C. Carr. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Carr, a corporate executive, left his well-paid, prestigious position to dedicate himself to quick and decisive action to increase diversity in the corporate management. Currently, the program has more than 270 Corporate Sponsors and nearly 2,000 college students taking part. It has more than 24,000 graduates and 36 offices in the US, Mexico and Canada.

In addition to offering young people a chance to develop the skills they need to advance in the corporate world, it also emphasizes the need to be involved in giving back to the community.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Preschool Graduation and Classroom Celebrations

A big congratulations to our PreK graduates of 2011!

What a nice turn out we had with family and friends of the children of the Dayton Christian Center on Friday, June 17th. Of course it always helps when the spotlight is on your kid and let us not forget cake.

The celebration began with a song from 3 of our School Age students, a welcome from Tasha Johnson, Executive Director, and then came the awards. Each classroom gave out awards to their students and in graduation fashion they walked, toddled, or crawled (some even were carried) across the stage to receive them.

We are so blessed to celebrate in moment like this with our families. Many of our students are here from very young ages and to see them "off to school" is pretty awesome and rewarding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reaping the Whirlwind (in a great way!)

One might be forgiven for thinking that a couple of very selective and tidy mini-tornadoes touched down in two neighborhoods of Dayton last week. Within a very short time, indeed, the two lots in question – 1352 W. Riverview Ave and 1820 East Fifth St – were transformed into beautiful, attractive sites worthy of Better Homes & Gardens.

But the work wasn’t done by the force of nature; it was done by the force of volunteers who gave up their day to come to DXC and clear undergrowth, plant flowers, tend the East Fifth Street Urban Farm and generally straighten up. Another group of volunteers, just as large and just as hardworking, worked inside our main offices on Riverview cleaning, helping our teachers in the classrooms and helping serve lunch to the students.

All in all, over a two-day period (Thursday and Friday) we had 46 truly great people lend their time and talents to DXC for the United Way of Greater Dayton’s Day Action. The volunteers came from local employers Delloite & Touche, Teradata, MCM Electronics, the Berry Network and Fifth/Third Bank

On Thursday, eight employees of Fifth/Third Bank spent the morning in our classrooms playing with the kids, doing crafts, helping with lessons and even taking a field trip with some of the students. Some of even stayed beyond their noon schedule to help serve lunch to the classrooms. There were a lot of smiles and laughs with both the students and the volunteers during the day.

The students got a second dose of fun when about a dozen members of Deloitte and Touche LLP came in to spend their Day of Action helping out in the classrooms. Again, there were games played, slime made, dancing and singing along with some personal attention to lessons given. Other workers, from Teradata, lent a hand washing toys and doing some cleaning chores inside.

At the same time, volunteers from Teradata, and MCM Electronics threw themselves into the dirt, pulling up weeds, planting new flowers and spreading mulch over the gardens at our offices in Riverview. They ripped through the scrub growth like a hurricane, not letting even a brief rain shower stop them. In a few short hours, what was a disheveled, unattractive slope was transformed into a beautiful, landscaped work of art.

Meanwhile, back at the urban farm (on East Fifth Street), Fifth/Third employees showed their talents transplanting tomatoes, spreading mulch, pulling weeds, and clearing encroaching growth away, ignoring the raindrops as their fellow volunteers over on Riverview. In addition, they did a ton of housework, clearing out accumulated trash from the old ESP building at the site and generally straightening the place up, all in four short hours.

There was even a second shift of seven volunteers from Teradata that came in the afternoon to provide the same landscaping services around the Administrative Offices next door to 1352.

As a result, we’ve got a pretty wonderful-looking place now and were able to meet a lot of really great people who we hope will be new friends and family members. No nonprofit organization can survive without volunteers, and it takes a lot of people spending a lot of very dedicated hours to keep DXC running. If it weren’t for enthusiastic, devoted people like the ones we had here last week, we simply wouldn’t be able to provide the services to the community that we do.

We never take our wonderful volunteers for granted. There just aren’t enough of the right words in the English language to express how much we appreciate everyone who spend the day with us Thursday and Friday, and what a huge difference they made for us. With that said, we offer what words we have:

Thank you all, from the bottoms of our hearts!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day of Action at the Urban Farm - Media Story

Once again we welcomed multiple waves of volunteers for 2 days of service in conjunction with the United Way of Greater Dayton's Volunteer Connection. Here's just one of the 3 projects we hosted on Friday (6/10/11).

Workers trade printers for pitchforks:

Monday, June 6, 2011

We've had some special visitors this week

We’re always happy to have visitors, but the ones who came in this weekend were a little special.

This past Saturday (June 4) several members of Fairhaven Church took a volunteer bus tour and stopped by DXC to talk with Sarah about volunteer opportunities here at DXC.

We’ve been very proud to have a history with Fairhaven Church members dating back to 2008 when they first came in to help us clean up our building over on East Fifth Street. That started when some of them came in for a Rebuilding Dayton project here. Since then, they have been really dedicated and valuable supporters of DXC. They’ve taken on some pretty hefty projects for us including replacing the annex roof, repainting our current Administrative Offices next door, and even constructing new steps into the basement for safe access to our laundry and other facilities there.

The group, led by Rev. John Wilson, listened as Sarah told them of the programs we provide here and of the wide variety of opportunities to volunteer. One of the things that most impressed the members, and which was emphasized by both Sarah and Rev. Wilson, was that we at DXC believe that volunteering should be a satisfying and enjoyable experience for everyone. To make that a reality, Sarah has developed a program called “Choose Your Own Adventure.” In that program, we invite people who are interested in volunteering with us to come up with their own project. Then, Sarah and the staff do all they can to build a project that fits the needs and wants of the person or group who came up with the idea. We’ve had some amazingly great projects come from that program and we love to hear more ideas. This is something Rev. Wilson and Sarah emphasized and which seemed to strike a chord in the group.

Rev. Wilson had arranged several sites to be seen by his members that day so, sadly, we didn’t get a lot of time to spend with them, but we were very happy for what we did have. But we’re sure we’ll welcome them back whenever they wish to come.