Neighborhood Advocates Collaborate to Relocate Discovery Center

Three summers ago, Concerned Citizens, Inc. Director Anita Gardner took Cuyahoga Land Bank President Gus Frangos and staff on a neighborhood tour of Kinsman Avenue.  Many buildings had decayed and were abandoned in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis post-2008.  One building had housed the small offices of a neighborhood child enrichment center known as the “Discovery Center,” run by Gardner.  “Our children need mentoring, job and citizenship training in order to be productive citizens wheLand Bank Staff n they grow up,” she said.  Gardner partnered with Shirley Ellington (who has since passed away) in serving children from the neighborhood at their small offices near East 138th and Kinsman.
Gardner and Ellington volunteered their time, efforts, and resources to help train and support children with community activities, arts, crafts and computer training. But alas, the offices suffered from a roof leak, building decay and vandalism which the owner would not fix.  As a result, the center closed.
Undaunted, the tour with Cuyahoga Land Bank staff resulted in a pact between Gardner and the Cuyahoga Land Bank that together they would find another suitable, safe and clean building to serve as a permanent home for “Anita’s kids.”
After reviewing vacant and abandoned properties for three years, a property on East 137th Street became available.  This was a large two family home with parking and plenty of space where children could engage in activities both inside and outside.
While the building was structurally sound, it needed significant renovation.  Cleveland Councilman Ken Johnson and Councilman Terrell Pruitt answered the call each by providing support to help in the renovation.  Additionally, the Cuyahoga Land Bank invested funds to complete the work.  The rehabilitation was completed by Beneficial Properties whose principal owner is Marvin Stover.  The property was finally finished in October, 2015.
“I cannot tell you how beautiful Mr. Stover made this building.  He went above and beyond in making this accessible to our kids including handicapped individuals.” said Gardner.  The finished property came equipped with a handicap raLand Bank Staff mp and customized renovations throughout the home.
At a recent tour of the building, Concerned Citizens, Inc. Board Member Jefferson D. Tufts praised the success of this project and the combined work of Anita Gardner, Cuyahoga Land Bank, Councilmen Johnson and Pruitt as well as the contractor Marvin Stover.  “This means a great deal to the children of this community,” said Tufts.
This spring, all of the children’s programming will once again begin but with enhanced activities such as entrepreneurship, community workshops, art festivals, educational tutoring and family support services.  “This is the kind of investment in our children that will help them make wise and healthy choices,” said Gardner. 
For Gardner, this is a dream come true.  It is a dream she refused to let die.  A grand opening for the new center will be announced in the Spring of 2016.

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