To the editor,
I am writing this on behalf of the Washington Street Community Center so the public will have a better understanding of the “substantial benefit” Washington Street Community Center confers to the county in exchange for monies appropriated by the county (and for that matter all other funds received from public and private donors, grants, fundraisers, etc.). This is also in response to recent and past articles in The Covington News that appear to suggest that all nonprofit organizations operate in similar manner.
WSCC has been serving the Newton County community for more than 20 years as an organization that supports the education and welfare of children and adults in our community.
Our signature program is our after school tutorial and homework assistance programs. However, that is not all we do. We also have programs that provide enrichment in music, art, gardening, fun and fitness, citizenship, scouts, a support group for grandparents that are raising grandchildren and we provide regular scheduled field trips that are entertaining but educational.
In our after school program, we serve 40 kids daily that come from every elementary school in the county (not just our immediate community) and for the last seven years we have been a community partner with the Newton County Board of Education in its “ 21st Century” after school program.
The children are fed nutritious meals each day and we are held accountable in our programing and management as a nonprofit by routine inspections from state and federal agencies. We have even been audited by the IRS and were found free of any violations.
More than 50 percent of our students make the honor rolls in school and many of our students perform above average on standardized test. Most recently, with assistance from the Arts Association, we have formed a children’s choir that has performed at local churches, the City Oxford Arbor Day activities and on the square at Christmas, just to name a few.
Washington Street Community Center is operated by a staff of 25-30 volunteers and board members with professional backgrounds that include education, healthcare, law, construction, corporate America and food service. We also have students from Oxford College to come and help facilitate our programing.
Our executive director and her assistant have extensive backgrounds and experience in the management and operation of non-profit organizations and have been with us for more than 15 years. Most of the staff was raised in Newton County or have lived here for more than 20 years and are passionate about giving back to the community with a ton of integrity and not an ounce of controversy and malfeasance.
Members of the board of directors personally donate more than $10,000.00 annually toward the support of WSCC. Parents are also required to attend conferences and give volunteer hours in order for their kids to be a part of WSCC.
I said all of this to say that Washington Street Community Center is unique.
I have stood by silently in recent years as the county in some manner has appropriated funds to some who have yet to make a contribution to the community and to others whose contributions are questionable and yet they are mentioned and treated as equals to the proven commodity that WSCC has consistently demonstrated over a long period of time.
I am insulted by any implication that there is no recompense granted to the community by WSCC. I challenge any taxpayer to stop by and see what is going on at WSCC.
Your tax dollars are at work (appropriations from the county make up approximately 18- 20 percent of WSCC’s budget) and we need your continued support. We want to be seen and appreciated as the outstanding community resource that we are.
Dr. Melvin O. Baker
Member of the Board of Directors of WSCC