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Hawthorne Community Center

Executive Director
2016 Remarkable Year

2016 was a remarkable year for Hawthorne Community Center. The capital project was completed during the summer and we moved out of the old Carnegie (Center for Working Families) building back into the main building. The $3.7 million renovation and expansion has allowed us to separate our programs into different areas. Our senior citizens now enjoy the space at the Senior Retreat located on the old Central State Hospital grounds. They have dedicated space that includes exercise, dining and activity space. The Carnegie building is now the Hawthorne Center for Working Families space. All adult programs are housed here and programs/services help individuals and families to become financially stable. The old Hawthorne is now the Hawthorne Youth Center. The space includes two early childhood classrooms, a computer lab, a Pacer game room, craft room, activity room and reading room. The youth center also includes a regulation sized gymnasium with a wood floor and a stage area with new curtains and lighting. The final piece of the project was the addition of almost 10,000 sq. ft. of community space. A large community room, well equipped kitchen and office complex provide opportunities for new and enhanced programming.

Hawthorne is blessed with a plethora of friends that include funders, former participants, local businesses, churches, volunteers, individual and corporate donors. Having served the community for more than 90 years demonstrates the need and value of our work. Serving third and fourth generations of families indicates we have a great reputation for caring and providing high quality programs.


2016 New Year
My 2016 New Year Resolution is to be more dedicated to sharing information via our website blog.  I have been remiss in utilizing this venue to share positive information and critical challenges during the past year.  We have a great deal to celebrate and I promise to be more diligent in sharing news through my blog.

Our most exciting news is the progress on our capital project.  We have worked for many years to put a plan together to raise funds, assess our needs and create a viable plan to improve our current facility and add much needed space as part of the project.  The fact that Hawthorne raised $3.5 million to accomplish this renovation/addition is remarkable.  We are a very small and humble organization and it is difficult for us to "compete" with larger organizations for funding.  We have gained some wonderful friends during our journey and I will attempt to honor their generosity in upcoming posts.

For now, the project is looking wonderful.  I walk through the building every day to see what has been done.  I am so excited to see this project move forward.  Replacement of all the systems, cosmetic improvements and redevelopment of space to better accommodate participants and programs is sorely needed.

We are currently waiting to hear if we will be funded for a new gymnasium floor, stage floor and stage lighting.  These items were removed from the initial budget based on out limited resources and other priorities.  They would truly be frosting on the cupcake of our project.

For all of you who have loved and supported Hawthorne over the past 90+ years, we appreciate your love of our agency.  It is our goal to create a great facility to continue to meet the needs of our community for many years to come.

Beginning of Summer
In my 45 years at Hawthorne, I have certainly had my share of ups and downs, celebration and mourning, births and deaths, acceptance and rejection.  last week, I had some of both.  Friday, we had a visit from Debbie Waltz and Billy McAllister.  Both grew up in the neighborhood and spent lots of time at Hawthorne many years ago.  They are now retired and live in Jacksonville Florida.  They came to visit the elderly aunt of Debbie and took time to come and visit Hawthorne.  It was the kickoff of the Hawthorne World Cup soccer celebration.  Children were adorned with hats, beads and noisemakers from different countries.  I was very proud as I showed our visitors around the center and shared our plans for renovation and added space.  They were impressed with what they saw and said that it was clear the Hawthorne was still a safe haven in this changing community.

Also on Friday, the remains of a young man were discovered not far from Hawthorne.  This young man had attended Hawthorne not too many years ago.  He was a sweet young man who was respectful and kind to others.  His path after leaving Hawthorne had not been a good one.  He had become involved in activities that were both dangerous and illegal.  His death reminds me that although we try to work with and save every child, that will never happen.  We have lost "Hawthorne kids" to accidents, illness, incarceration and murder.

I would like to think that every child will leave us and go on to become successful  adults like Debbie and Billy but that is not reality.  Even if they are retirement age, they will always be "Hawthorne kids" once they have come through our doors.  We take the mischievous ones, the good ones, the creative ones, the ones who come from homes fraught with domestic violence and drug/alcohol abuse, the over and under achievers and those who forever leave their footprints on our hearts.

We are hear and we will continue to serve the first, second, third and fourth generations of families in our community.  Hawthorne will remain a beacon in this ever changing community and we will never give up on our children!

Big News
Hawthorne has finally announced its public capital campaign to raise 3.5 million to totally renovate and add space to our facility.  This plan has been in the works for several years but we are so pleased that it is finally going to happen.  Paul George, of the Indiana Pacers, is our honorary chairperson.  He has graciously created a video we can use to promote the public phase of the campaign.  We are more than halfway there with 2.6 million already raised or pledged.  Of that amount, $500,000 is a matching gift from the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Fund that will help us meet this goal.  We need every person that has ever been involved with Hawthorne to help us meet this goal.  Hawthorne has served thousands of individuals and families over the past 91 years.  We need everyone to help us improve our facilities so we can continue to serve the next generations of children, adults and senior citizens.  Keep watching our website to see the plans and progress we are making.  It is an exciting time for us and the Hawthorne community.

With the snow and very cold weather on everyone's mind, I have decided to pen a blog about Hawthorne and our plans to renovate and add much needed space to our facility.  We met with our new architects today (Axis) and my head is swarming with new ideas and plans.  This project will be very important to our community and is much needed.  The project will include total renovation of the current facility and addition of valuable space.  Today we discussed tearing down the front of the building and adding on behind the gym.  We are also undergoing some some major renovations right now to enable Hawthorne to become a licensed child care facility.  We anticipate that we can raise about 3.5 million for the project and have a commitment of about 2.2 million thus far.  It is scary to think about raising the amount needed but I am convinced that our community deserves a nice facility that meets the needs of all of our participants.  As we move forward in the planning process, we will put pictures on our website and Facebook page to keep everyone informed.  We will also host some neighborhood meetings to make sure that our neighbors know what we are doing.  Stay tuned for more exciting news and stay warm.  Spring is right around the corner.

Exciting Times
Things are really jumping at Hawthorne.  In the past few weeks we have received a sizeable gift for our capital campaign, had a room renovated by the Indiana Pacer organization and hosted an open house to unveil that room with Paul George as our special guest.  I am always amazed at the spirit and commitment of people in out community who rally to support our work.  The staff, neighbors and families of those we serve all attended the unveiling of the Pacer Learn and Play Center last Friday.  Paul George was extremely patient holding babies on his lap, signing tee shirts and basketballs, coloring with the children and being photographed by dozens of people.  He is a very humble person and we hope that he will continue to be connected to Hawthorne as he leads his Pacers to great accomplishments.  He is a positive role model for our children and an asset to our city.

Our capital campaign is picking up steam and we hope to have some exciting news in the next few weeks to move the effort forward.  The renovation of our building and addition of much needed space is a big project but one that is much needed.  We are in the process of renovating two rooms into licensed child care space.  Having licensed child care had been a dream of Hawthorne for many years.  It will happen by next year as part of our total renovation of the Hawthorne facility.

As the holidays approach, we are very thankful for a strong hard working staff, dedicated board of directors, hard working families and wonderful children to serve.  We will have much to be grateful for as we move into 2014 and will keep you informed and engaged in the process.

Mother's Day
With Mother's Day behind us, I have reflected on my time at Hawthorne and the influence of my mother, Marie Kenley.  My mother worked at Hawthorne for 25 years and served as its leader for 13 of those years.  I learned a lot from her leadership style and her compassion for other people. I can remember getting ready to go somewhere and asking if she had seen a certain pair of my shoes.  Her response was generally, "yes, I gave those shoes to another child at Hawthorne who needed some shoes.  You have plenty more to choose from."  While I wasn't always happy with that response, I learned to live with that answer and years later, I could be found giving my son's Air Jordan's to other kids at Hawthorne.

My mother also taught me that good leaders are not afraid to try new things and never too good to do any task.  I still ascribe to that idea today and whether I have to drive the senior citizens somewhere, unload trucks or cook breakfast for 200 people, it is all part of the work that needs to be done.

Hawthorne has thrived for 90 years, because of strong women who have lead and worked there.  Alma Lemen, Marie Kenley, Betty Harris, Peggy Moore, Dawn Caffrey, Laura Harris, and Judy Thomas are just a few of the wonderful women that have given their time and talent to make our agency and our community a better place to live.  I salute them for their service.

Spring Brings Blessings
It has been quite an exciting time at Hawthorne in the past few weeks.  First, we have been approved for funding through the United Way of Central Indiana to begin to have our building renovated to become a licensed child care facility.  We have been working on this issue for about fifteen years with no success.  the plan will cost $103, 000 to implement.  United Way will pay for 80% and our board member and guardian angel, Phyllis Usher, agreed to pay the entire amount that Hawthorne would have to raise.  When the project is finished, we will be able to participate in the Paths to Quality certification process and provide 48 children with affordable high quality childcare and early education.

Our second surprise was the gift of a $40,000 KIA Sorento LX CUV donated by Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.  Paul was selected as the NBA's Most Improved Player and with that award was given the vehicle to donate to a charity of their choice.  We were simply blown away with the announcement of this wonderful gift.  We have not taken possession of the vehicle yet and aren't sure what we will do with it but are thinking a raffle or auction to bring money in for our upcoming capital campaign.

It is humbling to be considered worthy of such large and generous gifts from both Phyllis and Paul.  We work very hard at Hawthorne and often think our efforts are not recognized or valued.  I guess we were wrong and that there are great people and organizations that support our humble Hawthorne Community Center.

As Spring approaches, we think about warmer weather, basketball tournaments and Easter Egg hunts.  It is always a busy time at Hawthorne with the end of our basketball program, preparation for summer programming, special events and children looking forward to outside play at the park.  For Hawthorne, this year, Spring will also be the time for us to focus the necessary attention on out upcoming capital building project.  Our roof leaks, our building needs some major repairs that include plumbing, HVAC and lighting and important cosmetic rehabilitation.  We will need the help of our funders, alumni, business community and others to get the project moving forward.  The additional square feet is not nearly enough to allow the potential growth of our agency but it is probably all we can afford to undertake at this point.

Spring is the perfect time to kick off our work.  It is a time of renewal and rebirth.  Hawthorne has served this community for 90 years.  Our work speaks for itself when we have 4th and 5th generations of some families coming back to participate in programs.  Our community deserves a great facility but it will only happen if we have the support of all of our friends and supporters.  We hope that our community is ready to step up to the plate and bring our plan to fruition.  Stay tuned for more information........

Senior Citizens
I had the privilege to drive the senior citizens home today after our daily program.  They are a terrific bunch and I realize how important the program is to them every time I am connected to them.  Today, they had boxes of donuts that they guarded on the bus and carried to their homes.  They could barely walk without canes and walkers but they sure didn't drop the donuts.

My parents, ages 88 and 90, are much the same.,  Fiercely independent but getting more fragile as time goes by.  We son't serve a large number of senior citizens but for those we serve the program is vitally important.  We have two senior citizens who each have been coming to Hawthorne for more than 60 years.  That is a long history.

I am beginning to readily identify with the "senior citizen" crowd.  I am no longer asked if I qualify for the senior citizen discount at MCL, they just give it to me.  I am not sure if I am insulted or just glad to get the reduced price.

These precious souls lived through Depression, 2 World Wars, years of prosperity and want, trips to the moon and hundreds of other events, deserve to live out their lives in an environment where they are respected and valued.  How children and elders are treated speaks volumes about our society.  We will continue to meet the nutritional, social, physical, financial and civic needs of our elder participants who deserve compassion, support and advocacy.

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