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.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Dayton Christian Center begins new era

Dayton Christian Center has entered a new era this week.

It was at a staff meeting then that Board of Directors Chairman Carl Marquette announced that Interim Executive Director Tasha Johnson had been hired to fill the position permanently. Tasha succeeds former Executive Director Bob Bishop who left DXC in November. Tasha took the interim position at that time.

Tasha is a 2006 graduate of Wright State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Organizational Leadership Johnson has been an Early Childhood professional for more than 10 years. Shortly after giving birth to her first child she continued her life long love of learning in pursuit of her Associates of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. Prior to working with children Johnson was a French linguist in the Army stationed in Germany. Before returning to the United States Tasha completed her AS in ECE with the College of Southern Maryland. Upon being stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and settling in a house in Huber Heights, Ohio, Tasha began to work in the Preschool field.

It was while she was stationed in Germany that Tasha met her husband, Brian. They have three children together, Christina, Kendra and Carissa.

During her tenure at DXC, Tasha has taken part in a Lights On Afterschool event in collaboration with many other service providers in the Montgomery County area. The event was attended by over 600 children, parents and after school professionals. She also initiated the Center’s participation in the Step Up To Quality program, Ohio's voluntary quality rating system for ODJFS licensed child care programs. The Center currently rated at one star and Tasha hopes to gain a second one this year.

The Board decided at the April 28 meeting of the Board to hire Tasha but it was not announced immediately to allow time to get the staff together for an official proclamation. The event was celebrated on Monday, May 11 with cake and ice cream for everyone who attended.

We wish Tasha the best of luck and look forward to seeing what she has in store for DXC in the future.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sunny Days, Chasing the (Rain) Clouds Away

Father, We Thank Thee
For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee,
For the tender grass so fresh and sweet,
Father, we thank Thee,
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank thee,
For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee,
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee,
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For the beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee,
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekends like this just don't come around very often!

As weeks go, last week was exceptional.

First, it was Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) on Friday and we had 18 very dedicated and enthusiastic students from Spring Valley Academy choose to spend their morning with us cleaning up the neighborhood and interacting with the residents, showing that today’s youth is interested in more than texting, tweeting and video games.

These young people we’re afraid to get their hands dirty. While part of them worked their way the full length of Ferguson Ave – about half a mile in length – picking up trash and even carrying large items from one end of the street to the other so they could be picked up by the city, another group helped out here at DXC, cleaning up the grounds so that we could look our best, too. Then, the full group traveled down Riverview Ave, where we’re located, ranging at least as far as they had on Ferguson. At one point, a resident came out onto his porch and stood applauding the students as they passed by his house, gathering trash. They exchanged greetings and the man thanked them for doing such a good job and everyone parted feeling a little better about what they were doing. By the time they were finished, not a single scrap of paper, not a discarded bottle or can, not a forgotten toy was left. They even found some – shall we say – very personal items which they carefully picked up and deposited in the proper receptacles.

That’s dedication!

There was a great moment at the beginning of the day when Global Youth Service Day Committee Member Cathy Guerrant, from nearby Catholic Social Services, and Dayton City Commissioner Nan Whaley stopped by for a visit. Both Ms. Guerrant and Commissioner Whaley have been great advocates of youth volunteer programs and have done a lot to encourage and support both programs and the local organizations, such as DXC, who host them.

Along with DXC Associate Executive Director Sarah Williams, Commissioner Whaley and Ms. Guerrant welcomed the students and thanked them for their work. This meant a lot to the young people, and meant even more when all three adults accompanied them outside to give them even more encouragement.

All this, by the way, was captured by local news media WDTN, Channel 2, who sent reporter Jordan Burgess out to get it on film and interview some of the students.

Students volunteer for Global Youth Service Day:

It was really special to see not only that young people would spend their morning doing work that many older, supposedly more responsible people tend to ignore. Maybe it’s the youth of our country that can set the example for us!

We really want to thank them, Spring Valley Academy, Ms. Guerrant and Commissioner Whaley, and WDTN for their support on GYSD. Because of it, our neighborhood is a better, cleaner and more prideful area.

But the good things didn’t stop there.
On Saturday, Sarah and Phil Greene, our AmeriCorps Program Manager were partnered with the Dayton/Montgomery County Public Health department at the Levin Health Fair, “Celebrating Health and Life.” This annual event, put on by the Levin Family Foundation, is one of the biggest, most important health-oriented events anywhere in this part of Ohio. It draws literally thousands of people and hundreds of health-related vendors from all over the Dayton area.

Sarah and Phil had the DXC display set up along with Public Health in a very high-traffic area. In fact, neither of them had much chance to catch their breath over the five hours of the event as people stopped by to pick up information and listen to Sarah and Phil talk about the 5-2-1-NA program.

That’s part of the GetUP Montgomery County program run by the Health Department – the reason we were partnered for the event.

That program seeks to address the epidemic of childhood obesity but changing our lifestyles and those of our kids. It advocates a daily regime of five servings of fruits and vegetables, having less than two hours “screen time” (video games, computers, television or cell phone), getting at least one hour of physical activity and having no or almost no sugary drinks, especially carbonated sugary drinks.

Here at DXC, though, we’ve taken it a bit farther. We’re also involved in teaching people how to take more control over their diet by growing their own food in backyard gardens or even containers. To that end, we’ve formed some pretty interesting partnership that we’ll be talking about later.

While at the Health Fair, Sarah and Phil also promoted DXC’s “In God’s Hands” child care facility and, was there ever a lot of interest!

“In God’s Hands” is a Title 20 child care program and, especially with the economic climate in Dayton right now, it is sorely needed. Sarah and Phil handed out so many pamphlets and brochures that they ran out, so we’re expecting to grow quite a bit over the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted there too.

Finally, to close out the big week with a bit of fun, we hosted a community Easter Egg Hunt. AmeriCorps Member Cardella Scroggins put this event together as a way to give a bit to the community and let some kids discover the joy of the Easter season. From what we hear, nearly 100 people showed up and there was fun, laughter, and the thrill of discovered goodies had by all.

This is the first hunt we’ve had here at DXC but it more than likely won’t be the last.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dayton Christian Center cleans up

Once again this year, we’ll team up with the United Way’s Volunteer Connection Center to host a group of young volunteers on Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). This year’s project will be on Friday, April 15 and will be the fifth year we’ve done it. We’ve never been prouder or happier to be part of it.

This year’s project will be the same as last years, since it was a big success. We’ll be walking through the neighborhood picking up trash and small pieces of junk and generally cleaning up. We’re proud to be here in West Dayton and we’d like to show that pride while giving our young people the opportunity to how important and how satisfying community service really is.

Since our mission statement is “Enriching and Empowering Lives, One Choice at a Time,” we feel it’s important to take pride in the neighborhood. After all, civic pride is the foundation of a more livable, safer, and happier community life, and we want to do our part to create that environment.

But just as importantly, the young people who come to spend their day with us on GYSD not only learn about service and volunteering, they also give us the motivation and inspiration to step up our efforts. We’ve worked quite a lot with young people this year and we have yet to be disappointed by the amount of work and effort they bring with them. And the best part is they have fun doing it – and that’s fun for us.

Global Youth Service Day came about in 1988 as a program created by Youth Service America and the Campus Outreach Opportunity League. From a single day on a single campus, the program has grown to include more than 1,500 projects all over the country. In 2000, the program was renamed the Global youth Service Day to reflect the fact that it now spans national borders and embraces youth volunteerism in many other countries as well.

The young volunteers will cover as much of the neighborhood as possible, and, if time permits, will be taken by DXC’s van to points farther away. If the weather is bad, though, they’ll be paired with our own teaching staff to take part in crafts and lessons with our students.

We’ll be posting an update on how the project goes and how much we were able to get done. We’ll take plenty of pictures to share, too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcome 2011 Tax Season

Another year has closed out and that brings us to our preparations of filing our taxes. That means for the Dayton Christian Center a busy time of getting ready to host the 6th year of the VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) Program in partnership with the City of Dayton and CAP. VITA is an IRS initiative designed to promote and support free tax preparation service for the underserved, low income populations. These include the elderly, disabled, limited-English-speaking, non-urban, and Native American taxpayers.

We will have our resident expert Alan back for the 3rd year (as well as welcoming a new individual) preparing taxes. Phil Greene is our site administrator this year and will be working very closely with our clients and volunteers as well as our office support to ensure things run smoothly. So far we will be preparing taxes by appointment beginning February 14. If you would like to have yours done, please contact the center (937-275-7174) to schedule an appointment.

There will also be a kick-off "Super Saturday" event on February 5 at the Montgomery County Job Center where taxpayers will be paired with trained volunteers who will complete and file tax returns on the spot. The EITC and CTC have returned millions of dollars to thousands of working families and individuals in the Dayton area. The Dayton EITC Coalition, a group of community volunteers, is chaired by City Commissioner Dean Lovelace, with support from KeyBank. For more information on that event, click here or call United Way's HelpLink at 913-2000