Community Centers create an environment that has the potential to be the backbone of a community experience and the practical hands-on tool for unification and enrichment—a gathering place for diverse cultural events, or for programs and events distinctive to a uniquely focused cultural experience.
Community Centers are easily accessible, can generate their own income for self-sustainment and maintenance (e.g. can be rented out for receptions and conferences and hold fundraisers, etc.), provide a platform for a myriad of varied activities and events and offer a venue for educational and enrichment experiences. The centers are tailored to the community and are a tool to abate gang activity.
Acculturation is an essential step in improving immigrants’ lives, especially those who are striving to become citizens. Immigrants who are hoping to make our country their home for good, or who are working here temporarily, will benefit from any instruction they can acquire to familiarize themselves with our culture—and Community Centers can be a path to that information.
Literacy advancement through ESL (English as a Second Language) programs, individual mentoring, educational workshops, academic tutoring, and writing and speaking classes, improves job prospects; and bettering communication skills in a second language, not only enhances job possibilities, but helps in negotiating life outside your comfort zone.
Art and music classes as well as appreciation for the arts, while lost to the school systems, can be rekindled and nurtured at Community Centers. While many a young person finds art is an outlet, the opportunities are limited as to where that expression can be fostered. Even young techies could use a safe place to learn more about their passion for technology from experienced specialists. Another undercut curriculum is sports. Afterschool sports for those who don’t “make the team” can be set up through Community Centers, with experienced coaching and parental involvement that the schools don’t champion.
Speaker series, lectures and conferences—town meetings, political rallies, community awards and recognition celebrating accomplishments are all natural extensions of the Community Center experience. Career development workshops, academic counseling services and sponsored scholarships all help to direct youth toward a positive path in making good life choices. Leadership training has become so necessary for the growing population of immigrants that need to have a voice. Adult classes to hone job skills and support career changes can be made accessible.
Counseling for youth, individuals and families unique to the community needs can be made available through Community Centers. Whether it’s for nutrition guidance, family planning or psychosocial challenges, support and assistance is possible.
Holiday programs and events sponsored by Community Centers can serve as a bridge in understanding diversity and bringing together a community. These opportunities can be a cornerstone for future and ongoing multi-cultural events.
Overall, Community Centers have the potential to serve as a gateway to intellectual, cultural and leadership opportunities and can augment community interaction, helping each individual step into the shoes of their neighbor while still embracing the richness of their own cultural identity, practices and values.
The Third Way plans to offset any decrease in funding to these groups as well as to create new facilities, expand existing ones, and start new programs where there are currently none.