The Reeb Avenue Center finds its footing in its first year

Smith says the building was a little overwhelming, but now people have started to feel welcomed and at home.

One of the biggest obstacles going forward, however, is to raise an endowment to make the building sustainable, Abell says.

“We need to make sure that the tenants in here are going to be here for the long haul for this community because the community deserves it,” she says.

Three to five years from now, Abell says, the mother dropping her child off at the learning center needs to still be employed and the child still in school.

Working together

The Reeb Avenue Center houses 14 nonprofits that are learning to cohabitate and collaborate.

“We hold tenant meetings every month, and we really strive for all of the nonprofits to work together and communicate together,” Smith says.

During one tenant meeting, Godman Guild shared that child care is a barrier for some women to join their program, Crane says. One of the center’s tenants is an early learning center, who offered to work on how to make drop-in child care a priority for those women.

The collaboration also has sparked initiatives.

The Godman Guild offers adult education and transitional workforce classes, and it co-created an opportunity with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank at the pay-what-you-can South Side Roots Café & Market, Crane says.

People work in the cafe to get experience, while developing their resume and undergoing training. Then, at the end of 60 days, someone can be placed in an appropriate job.

Abell says people also can earn points on their loyalty card by volunteering in the cafe, market or throughout the building. Then, they can use those points to earn meals and access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

“It is all about helping people with dignity and respect have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but not in a way that’s a handout — because this community does not want a handout,” she says.