West Side Community House opens new facility on Lorain Ave.

(Plain Press, December 2006) “Representatives of community organizations, residents, merchants --all of us in the community have embraced the move of the West Side Community House (WSCH) to its new facility at 9300 Lorain Avenue”, said Ward 18 Councilman Jay Westbrook at a November 9th open house for the new facility.

Westbrook noted the 116-year history of service of the neighborhood center and the support of fellow Councilpersons Dona Brady, Matt Zone and Joe Cimperman in the facility’s expansion and move to the new location in the heart of West Side Community House’s service area.

Jan Kappenhagen, President of the Board of Trustees of West Side Community House, said WSCH provides services to over 4,000 individuals and families annually. Programs of the West Side Community House include: the School Age Day Care Program and educational opportunities for children in the Beverly A. Corrigan Learning Lab; the Family to Family social service model designed to improve circumstances for children by helping families to become self sufficient; and the Senior Center which provides senior citizens with a place to join in social functions, and provides meals on site and to homebound seniors.

Executive Director Dawn Kolograf and her staff treated over 150 open house guests to tours of the bright and spacious new facility built by D-A-S construction.

The new facility allows the consolidation of Senior Centers at the former WSCH site on Bridge Avenue and the Simpson Senior Center on W. 86th and Clark Avenue into one easily accessible meeting space at the new facility’s first floor. The large senior center room lies just past the spacious lobby and security desk at the new facility’s entrance. Next to the senior center is the kitchen.

Upstairs are brightly colored rooms for youth day care and educational activities. Staff offices upstairs are spacious and well lighted. The building features a good amount of natural light with windows throughout the facility.

Methodist Deaconesses founded the West Side Community House. Today it is one of 100 United Methodist National Mission sites and the only one in the Greater Cleveland area. Cuyahoga Commissioner Tim Hagan, noting the ties to the United Methodist Church, reminded all that the new Governor-elect Ted Strickland was a Methodist minister. Hagan spoke of the importance of institutions like the West Side Community House to a community. “Compassion and decency define a society more than anything else,” said Hagan.

Cudell Improvement’s Executive Director Anita Brindza said West Side Community House fit perfectly into the cdc’s plan for the property it assembled on the Lorain Avenue site. Cudell Improvement owns the land on which the West Side Community House sits.

WSCH Executive Director Dawn Kolograf, who started working at the Bridge Avenue facility in 1976 and returned to serve as Executive Director in 1991, praised the individuals and foundations that made building the new facility possible.

Kolograf presented an award to the largest individual donor, Gladys Howson, who served as President of the WSCH Board of Trustees in the 1960s. Howson said she first visited the West Side Community House on Bridge Avenue in the 1930s and 1940s when she accompanied her mother who volunteered at the facility.

Kolograf also noted that the developers that purchased the former WSCH at 3000 Bridge Avenue contributed substantially to making the new facility possible. Developers Ed Downey and Dave Douglass intend to create three commercial spaces in the basement of the former WSCH structure for providers of professional services such as graphic designers and attorneys. They plan 15 residential market rate condos in the building’s upper floors including a partial fifth floor they plan to add to the top of the building. The developers’ plans call for the site of the day care playground just west of the building to be converted into a surface lot with 15 parking places. Douglass says the plans have already received approval of the Board of Zoning Appeals and will go before the Ohio City Design Review Committee in early December.


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