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Hawthorne Community Center

Executive Director
Backpack Drive: Final Push

By: Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold                                                

Our Family Night Carnival is one week away!  We’re hoping to give away 200 backpacks to hand out to children who frequent Hawthorne and those living close to the center at the July 20th event.  However, we still need donations to meet that goal and help the kids (And their parents!) have a great back-to-school season.   

You can give in two ways…either buy the backpack and school supplies or donate funds and we’ll do the shopping for you!  Each backpack will cost about $10 if we shop carefully.  If you do the shopping, just drop it by Hawthorne Community Center by Wednesday, July 19.  Donating?  Then drop the money by Hawthorne, mail it or visit our website to give online. 

The backpacks will be given to kindergarten through eighth grade kids, so a variety of sizes are needed.  We don’t want the smaller kids overwhelmed by huge backpacks.

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) actually provides a school supply list, which we’d like to follow.     

Here are the school supplies we’d love to have, in addition to backpacks:

·       24 packs of crayons or colored pencils

·       Two-pocket folders

·       Hard plastic supply boxes

·       Cloth supply pouches with holes that can be put in binders

·       Child-size scissors

·       Pink erasers

·       Packs of yellow #2 pencils

·       Composition notebooks

·       Packs of dry erase markers

·       Large white glue sticks

·       Boxes of zip top bags

·       Kleenex boxes

·       Packets of disinfectant wipes (like Clorox)

·       Hand sanitizer with pumps

·       1 ½ inch binders

·       Packets of loose-leaf paper


Back-to-school can be an expensive time for families between buying clothes and shoes, paying for books and getting supply list items.  We want to help make sure everyone starts the school year off on the right foot with the needed supplies and a great, new backpack! 

Thanks for giving whatever you can. 

A Story of Independence

By: Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold

Many people don’t know that Hawthorne Community Center’s Center for Working Families (CWF) provides incredible education and economic support services for adults.  CWF offers employment services, financial education, high school equivalency (HSE) and GED classes and tutoring, English classes, tax preparation and so much more!

I’m so proud of one woman, in particular, who has used the center’s many offerings to help her become her best self. Angie Wilson

Angie Wilson began working with CWF in 2013 when she enrolled in our GED classes to help her get her high school diploma.  She quickly earned the GED in just over four months!  But, she wasn’t done there.  She enrolled in Ivy Tech Community College in early 2014.  She remained involved with the center and received college tutoring to help her breeze through the most difficult courses. 

CWF also assisted Angie over the years to help ensure she maintained her financial stability and with the costs of fees related to her medical classes at Ivy Tech. 

I’m so thrilled to share that Angie proudly walked in Ivy Tech’s graduation ceremony this past May and is spending the summer finishing her final classes and externship.  She will officially graduate August 1st!

If you want to add to your education and training, like Angie, please contact our Center for Working Families by calling 317-637-4312, or plan to attend our orientation.  It’s held the first four Mondays of each month, unless there’s a holiday, through December 11.  Orientation starts at 10 a.m. sharp and lasts one to two hours, depending on turnout. You’ll learn how we can help you reach your goals.

We hope to see you there!


Hawthorne Families Need Your Help!

By: Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold


The good news is that our Summer Camp is more popular than ever!  The bad news is that the need for our summer programming is much larger than we had expected and budgeted for.  Hawthorne is currently serving more than 150 children daily from 6:30 am until 6:00 pm.


That means we’ve had to hire extra staff and pay for additional activities that weren’t in our summer budget…creating a funding gap of about $10,000! 


We simply couldn’t turn anyone away!  Let me share one example of the families we are helping and why our Summer Camp is so important. 


A family of five is currently squeezing into a tiny hotel room and living there full-time.  Mom is employed, but struggling, and the stepfather is looking for work. 


Our Summer Camp gives the six-year-old and nine-year-old girls and their eight-year-old brother a break from the cramped conditions; a chance to learn, grow and have fun; and, most importantly, a guaranteed breakfast, lunch and snack each day.


The kids are making incredible memories while mom goes to work and stepdad searches for a job to get them out of the hotel and back on their feet. 


Please consider donating $10, $25 or more to help families like the Smiths.  You can mail a check to Hawthorne or click here to donate now.  Any amount you can spare would be appreciated!


I love that I can count on those who have been served by Hawthorne in the past or who understand and appreciate the important work we do in the community. Thank you for your continued support of our organization and the many individuals and families we serve. 


Summer Fun

By: Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold


Countless adults in the Hawthorne neighborhood can’t think of summer without remembering the great times they had at our Summer Camp and the lifelong friendships they made. 


The 2017 camp is underway for kindergarten through 9th graders and the weekly rates vary based on income from $45-$200. 


We’ve got a great program this year! Hawthorne Summer Camp includes four field trips per week plus activities and programs including skating, bowling, swimming, sports, arts and crafts, Camptown adventures and fire safety.


There’s tons of fun on the schedule.  But, there are some really important things our campers receive besides the constant activity.


They receive quality childcare from 6:30 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. on weekdays so that their parents can continue to work and provide for their families or go to school to secure the family’s future.


They are guaranteed a nutritious breakfast, snacks and a hearty lunch to give them energy.  This is incredibly important since Marion County has a 22 percent child food insecurity rate.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that means 22 percent of kids in the state’s most populated county have limited or uncertain access to food that supports a healthy life. 


We also are taking part in Gleaners’ BackSack program to send weekend backpack snacks home.  Each BackSack includes shelf-stable food that does not need refrigeration and has enough food in it for five small meals and a snack. 


Our programs also help prevent “Summer Slide.”  Hawthorne provides campers with academic opportunities to keep their skills sharp so that they can go back to school ready for lessons without having to have as much (or any!) remediation.  They also develop social skills and their creative, artistic sides through activities with other children. 


Hawthorne has been providing quality youth programs for more than 90 years and multiple generations have attended our camps.

Please post your favorite camp memories on Facebook and let me know how camp positively impacted you.  I can’t wait to read your posts! 



Jayla Heckman Spirit Award Winner Chosen

By: Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold

There was too much cuteness in the Hawthorne gym Friday night when our preschool – 6th grade dance students put on the annual talent show, followed by a Family Night dinner in the community room.  The kids looked great in their costumes while showing off the dance moves they’ve learned.

One very special part of the night came nearly at the end of the talent show when the winner of the Jayla Heckman Spirit Award was announced.  Jayla’s dad, Russ, volunteers five to six hours a week to help with the show and is one of Hawthorne’s most committed supporters.  Jayla was a mischievous, delightful soul who was in and out of the hospital throughout her life.  However, she remained positive until her death nearly three years ago at the age of 24.  Her spirit now lives on in the award her dad bestows in her name every year. 

This year’s winner is eight-year-old Natalia Castaneda, who was picked for her commitment to the dance program, her positive attitude and hard work.  Congratulations to Natalia!  We’re so proud of her and all of the other young dancers who bravely got on stage in front of a packed house!

You can see more photos of the talent show on the Hawthorne Community Center Facebook page.

This is just the beginning

By Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold

This week, our preschoolers marched down the gym floor for graduation.  The ceremony is one of my favorite events of the year because it’s the cutest thing you can imagine to see these adorable little boys and girls in their caps and gowns.  This annual event also brings tears to many an eye as these beautiful youngsters complete their preschool experience and prepare for the next step of their academic journey. 

I’m a big believer that quality preschool programs like Hawthorne’s help level the playing field for all children and give them a solid foundation for the future.  If children receive early education, they begin kindergarten ahead of their peers who didn’t attend preschool.  They often have more knowledge and increased social skills.

I’m so proud that Hawthorne offers preschool that is affordable. Education should be available to every child, not just the ones with the parents who make the most money or those that happen to live in the “best” zip code. (I happen to think that would be our neighborhood!)

Preschool should be a safe space where children get nutritious meals, receive guidance in how to behave and get along with others, learn the basics of education, and have fun with their friends.  But most importantly, preschool should excite children and spark a lifelong joy for learning.  I was so moved to see that excitement on the faces of the Hawthorne Class of 2017 and I wish them a bright, successful future! 


By Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold

I have some exciting news that I just couldn’t wait to share…our annual Day at the Track set for this Wednesday, May 17, is SOLD OUT for the first time ever!  We even increased the number of tickets we had to sell from 150 to 200 this year and each and every one of them is gone.  

What does it mean?  Each ticket sold means we are raising more money for our programs for children, older adults and working families.   It means we have THE BEST supporters around, and it means we are attracting new people to our mission and center. 

We are so grateful to everyone who is joining us at the track and to our supporters.   Sponsors include Indianapolis Motor Speedway, PNC Bank, Asset Recycling, Core Planning Strategies, Holladay Properties and Old Town Design Group.  We couldn’t do it without them. 

For those lucky enough to get a ticket to the day, here is the schedule:

10 a.m.  - Indianapolis Motor Speedway Gates Open

11 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Hawthorne Program in Pagoda Suite 6 & 7, including Silent Auction!

11:30 a.m. - Lunch Served

12-6 pm.  - Verizon INDYCAR Series Practice

6 p.m. – Gates Close

I hope to see you there! 

More Money for Our Community

By: Hawthorne Community Center Executive Director Diane Arnold

In just a few weeks, there will be a story published in the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) telling readers about a fantastic event that left me shocked and incredibly grateful.  If you follow Hawthorne on social media, you may have seen a photo of me accepting a donation from the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) at Hotel Tango Artisan Distillery. 

Hawthorne Community Center was one of five nonprofits asked to give a presentation earlier this spring to the IBJ Forty Under 40 class outlining what we would do with a donation from CICF on behalf of the class.  I had five minutes to request a share of the $40,000 available and explain how Hawthorne would use it, and then another five minutes to answer questions.  Not wanting to be greedy, I asked for $20,000 to pay for our Family Nights, updates to the Hawthorne Early Childhood outdoor play space and our two-block mural project.  All of these projects play a huge part in our Natural Guardians program, which promotes a pathway for ex-offenders to return to their families and communities.

I left the presentation not knowing what would happen.  Then, I received word that we were chosen one of the recipients.  Little did I know the surprise in store! 

I went to Hotel Tango and looked around for the other nonprofits and didn’t see any.  But it was crowded and I didn’t think much of it.  Then, CICF’s President and CEO Brian Payne came up to me and asked if I knew why I was there.  “I think so,” I said. 

He smiled and asked if I saw any other nonprofits there?   When I said no, he let me in on the secret that we’d been selected to receive the whole $40,000! 

I was incredibly humbled to accept the donation on behalf of the families we support and look forward to using it to strengthen and beautify our community.  Our working families and Natural Guardians participants are the real winners of this grant.

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.

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