April 15, 2016
Media Contact: Yvette Kelly-Fields
3730 Delphos Avenue
Dayton, Ohio 45417
(937) 263-3556 x214
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wesley Community Center celebrates its fiftieth year of being a beacon of hope in the Westwood Community
Juneteenth Celebration Weekend to kick off yearlong celebration
Dayton, OH (April 11, 2016) – June 8, 2016 will mark the beginning of Wesley Community Center’s 50th year of service to the community. Opened in 1966 to meet the emerging socio- economic needs of families in crisis and in need of support to overcome economic hardships, the Wesley Community Center has grown from a drop-in help center with one paid staff member and a budget of less than $25,000 to assist a few families to a comprehensive 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. To highlight its 50 years of serving the community, the Center has planned a number community events that uplift, inspire and motivate people to be better in every area of their lives.
“We are excited about our 50th Anniversary. It’s a perfect time to celebrate as Wesley Center continues to grow and build programs that help families and seniors in Westwood thrive,” shared ed board chair Erica Fields. “We want our celebration to be about the community. Every aspect was planned with those who have supported us over the years in mind. 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.”
For the 50th Anniversary, Wesley Center will revive its Juneteenth Festival originally started under Dr. Robert Walker who served as executive director for most of the agency’s fifty years. Taking place over a four day weekend from June 16th to June 19th, the Juneteenth Celebration kicks off with a Leadership Luncheon featuring guest speaker Bishop Joseph Sprague. On Friday, June 17th the Wesley Center in partnership with the HAALO Program will host a Community Picnic and large Wall Mural Reveal featuring the artwork of court involved youth and guest artist James Pate. The celebration continues on Saturday with the first Red Velvet Cupcake 5K Run/Walk followed by the Juneteenth Festival. The weekend ends with the highly anticipated Blame It On the Funk Stage play. In September, the 50th Anniversary festivities will conclude with the All That Glitters Gala recognizing fifty of Wesley Community Center’s current and former clients who have overcome tremendous odds to achieve success. The night will end with the Golden Hour After Party at the Crowne Plaza. This is sure to be one unforgettable anniversary.
Beyond the celebration, the proceeds from every event will support its services to the 7,000 people who use the food pantry, are assisted in seeking and securing employment and who participate in daily programming all year long to thrive in school and stay active.
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 the 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 Love Rollercoaster 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 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 two 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.
Following the gala will the Golden Hour After Party from 9 pm to 1 am at the Crowne Plaza.
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.