FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wesley Community Center celebrates its fiftieth year of being a beacon of hope in the Westwood Community
Juneteenth Weekend to kick off yearlong celebration
Dayton, OH (April 11, 2016) – In 1966 the Wesley Community Center opened its doors to families in crisis and in need of a safe haven. Over the last 50 years the agency has evolved from a drop-in help center with one paid staff member and a budget of less than $25,000 assisting a few families to a full social service agency with paid staff of over twenty people, a million dollar budget and a dozen programs serving more than 7,000 people a year in the areas of workforce development, health and wellness and education. From its executive director Yvette Kelly-Fields a former client of the Wesley Center to its newest client whose mom is a part of the Center’s Baby Ready Program, its success has grown steadily over the years with many of those served by the agency going on to achieve in school, in work, in the community and in life.
To highlight its 50 years of serving the community, the Center has planned community events that uplift, inspire and motivate people to be better in every area of their lives.
“We want the social and financial impact to go beyond this year. Our goal is to bring a level of community engagement, historical awareness and entertainment that is reflective of living, playing and working in West Dayton over the last 50 years,” shared executive director Yvette Kelly-Fields.
From the Leadership Luncheon calling for social justice to the Juneteenth Celebration weekend reminding all of us of our collective struggle to achieve the American dream to the Center’s culminating event All That Glitters Gala recognizing Wesley Community Center’s current and former clients who have overcome tremendous odds to achieve success, this will be one unforgettable anniversary.
Beyond the celebration, the proceeds from every event will support its services to the 1,000 plus families who use its food pantry, the hundreds of people who are assisted in seeking and finding employment and the dozens of youth and seniors who participate in daily programming all year long to help young people thrive in school and keep seniors active and living independently.
Board chair Erica Fields commented, “We want our celebration to be about the community. Every aspect was planned with those who have supported us over the years. It’s not our celebration. The Wesley Center does not belong to us. We are the stewards of it but it belongs to the community and like our services, everything was done with those we serve in mind.”
Major support for 50th Anniversary Celebration provided by Premier Health Partners and PNC Bank
A list of 50th Anniversary activities with descriptions are listed below:
Juneteenth Celebration Weekend – Thursday, June 16th to Sunday, June 19th
Thursday, June 16th, 11 am to 1 pm, Grace United Methodist Church, Leadership Luncheon – A Commitment To A Just Future featuring Guest Speaker: Bishop C. Joseph Sprague, Retired. Event sponsored by Grandview Health Center of Kettering Health Networks.
This luncheon recognizes the 50 years of leadership support from the Wesley Center’s community and faith based partners.
Friday, June 17th, 10 am to 2 pm, Wesley Community Center, The Juneteenth Open House and Family Reunion and Wall Mural Reveal
The Open House and Family Reunion is a unique event focused on celebrating the people of Westwood. Also, we will witness the unveiling of a permanent large scale mural on the front of the Wesley Center created by HAALO and nationally renowned artist James Pate. HAALO is a mural arts program created through a partnership with the Montgomery County Juvenile Court Program.
Saturday, June 18th, 7 am to 10:30 am, McIntosh Park, The Juneteenth Red Velvet Cupcake 5K Run/Walk
This fun and delicious 5K is named after the Juneteenth Celebration favorite dessert – Red Velvet Cake. This run/walk takes place in the area near McIntosh Park with cupcake stations of Red Velvet and other flavors along the way.
Saturday, June 18th, 11 am to 5 pm, McIntosh Park, The Juneteenth Festival
The official 2016 Juneteenth Festival takes place at the beautiful McIntosh Park near downtown Dayton. This year’s Juneteenth will start at 11am with a full day of activities for all ages. Event sponsorship provided by First Financial Bank.
Sunday, June 19th, 5 pm to 9 pm, Masonic Temple, The Juneteenth Blame It On The Funk Stage Play
Do you remember the day when you fell in love with Funk? The day you got on the Loverollercoaster to take a ride. Junebug remembers it well. When the soon to be hit “Skin Tight” from Dayton’s own The Ohio Players hit the airwaves, love hit a sixteen year-old Junebug right in the face in the form of a shy, yet stunningly beautiful girl named Elley. Junebug would spend the next decade pursuing the loves of his life – Elley and Dayton funk.
Blame It On The Funk is a stage play presenting some of Dayton’s most talented new school musicians, singers and dancers who will pay tribute to old school Dayton Funk through the performance of songs by the Ohio Players, Heatwave, Slave, Faze-O and Zapp. Join Junebug and Elley on their journey to find love as shared by Junebug with his granddaughter Mia.
Culminating Anniversary event
Saturday, September 17, University of Dayton River Campus, 6 pm to 9 pm, All That Glitters Gala And Jazz Concert
The All That Glitters Gala and Jazz Concert is a star–studded event. What stars? Wesley Community Center achievers and overcomers. Since 2015, Wesley Center has honored clients, young and old, who have accomplished great things in the face of adversity. This year will be no different. We will highlight the exceptional accomplishments of our clients in the following categories – Rising Star (Outstanding Youth), Shooting Star (Outstanding Working Adult), Shining Star (Outstanding Senior) and Glittering Star (former clients who continue to shine). You will see and hear firsthand how your dollars are changing lives in amazing ways. Not to worry, we will do this in the most spectacular yet succinct way.
A special performance by an up-and-coming jazz luminary, national recording jazz artist Robert Sanae.
More details about the 50th Anniversary can be found at www.wesleycenterdayton.org.
About Wesley Community Center
The mission of Wesley Community Center is to meet the spiritual and basic needs of families of all ages, offering assistance in education, workforce development and health and wellness to transition families toward self-sufficiency. Since 1966, Wesley Community Center has committed itself to serving low income families and individuals in need through programs including job development, after school programs, CDF Freedom Schools, a food pantry, urban garden, farmers market, senior nutrition and transportation programs. The Center has earned the reputation as a reliable, committed, faith-based organization that responds to low income persons and families experiencing personal crisis. The Center identifies critical needs in the low income communities of Dayton Ohio and executes programs to address those needs.
In 2015 140 people secured better than minimum wage jobs, 6,300 individuals used our choice food pantry to feed their families and 50 students in K-8 showed increased literacy skills as result of our partnership with their parents and their school through our afterschool and CDF Freedom Schools Summer programs.
About the Wesley Center Juneteenth Celebration
The Wesley Community Center Juneteenth Celebration began under Texas native Dr. Robert Walker, the longest serving executive director of the Wesley Community Center. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.
Juneteenth symbolizes the end of slavery and the beginning of freedom. While its roots are in Texas, Juneteenth has become a day to celebrate freedom all over the United States. Juneteenth almost always focuses on education and self-improvement. Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.
The celebration in Dayton is held annually in the beautiful McIntosh Park (formerly Riverview Park) on the corner of Edwin C. Moses and Riverview. This event attracts over 500 people every year.