The Unity Community Center has expanded its services in recent years and is just getting started, according to the center’s outgoing and incoming directors.
Located at 50 Ross Street and originally called the Second Ward Community Center, the organization has changed its name to reflect a community focus that will continue to grow in the years to come, said Karriejoi Coit and DeAndra Harrison.
Coit, who became the centre’s first director at the end of 2018, is stepping down to become a member of the board of directors and will be replaced by Harrison.
Harrison, a resident of Blacklick, runs a nonprofit called Actions That Matter for Youth, which she said recently provided after-school services to economically disadvantaged and disadvantaged middle and high school students in schools across the city. of Reynoldsburg.
Coit said Harrison had the skills to help the center expand its services to the underserved population of the city and beyond.
And as a board member, Coit said, she will help the center focus on “operational funding, fundraising and fundraising to really get the center where it needs to be.”
Those goals will merge, Coit said, when the center launches a three-year effort that ultimately reaches underserved residents across the county.
About 4% of the county’s population is below the poverty line, she said, and Unity Center hopes to reach half of those people.
The effort will initially focus on the city of Delaware, she said.
While most local social service agencies help those seeking help, Unity on the other hand plans to reach out to underserved people, Coit said.
“We’re going to reach out to different parts of Delaware… to see what the needs are,” Harrison said. “We are working on family engagement surveys to see who lives in the household, what do you need, what do you need help with and… what do you really need and how can we help you. help. … being a one-stop-shop, almost, where you can get all types of resources you need, and if we don’t have them, we’ll help you find them. “
“We’re literally going to go out there,” Coit said. “We are going to set up tents and interact with the community. We are going to reach out to you. You have to go to where the people are.”
One of the goals, she said, will be to collect accurate information and solid data on how resources could help underserved people move forward.
Harrison’s expertise could help underserved people improve their credit and become homeowners, benefiting the entire county, Coit said.
“It is doable,” she said. “But we need the support of the community to focus on this population.”
Between late 2018 and late 2020, Coit said, the centre’s operating budget increased by 1,206%. Its registrations increased by 744% and its partnerships with individual organizations increased by 53%.
The centre’s income comes solely from grants, Coit said, and everyone working at the center is volunteers, including Harrison, at least for now.
“Hers is a volunteer position until she gets paid. We get paid through our grant writing,” Coit said.
She said she also relied on grant money for the intermittent pay she received as a manager, but continued to make money with her consulting firm, Community Outreach Innovation Team. (COITUS).
Harrison said she also made money through contracts with Actions That Matter for Youth.
One of the advantages of Unity, Coit said, is that its partners are active partners, participating directly in many of the centre’s programs and sometimes sharing some costs.
One of those active partners, she said, is the Delaware County Republican Party.
Support from the local GOP is something Coit said people didn’t expect, but she sees it as showing concern and support for Unity’s mission.
Harrison said she had worked in education for over 11 years after graduating from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta with a double degree.
Education is in her blood, she says.
“I come from a long line of teachers and principals and all kinds of different things,” she said. “I’ve spent years as a publicist, and I kind of still find myself in this education room.
“You have to have passion. … I’ve always wanted to have an impact. So it allows me to bring all of my personal and professional experiences and truly be a community leader and see the impact on a day-to-day basis. Perspective “she said. “So that’s where my enthusiasm lies.”
The Unity Center is an agency of the United Way. The center rents its building to the city of Delaware.
The centre’s website is swcidelaware.org.