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Community Action Agency of South-Central Michigan

Old Ponderosa will serve community in a different way

Joan Van Houten Staff Writer

The Community Action Agency of South-Central Michigan has chosen the vacant Ponderosa building in the city of Hastings as the location for expanding access to its programs and services. A direct benefit for the city is having an empty commercial space transformed into a thriving community service center.

The agency has raised $400,000 toward renovation costs. However, another $200,000 is still needed before the project can move forward. A gofundme social media site has been created to help in the effort and is expected to launch today.

Donations by postal delivery are also welcome and may be mailed to Community Action Agency, 175 Main St. Battle Creek, MI 49014. Donors are asked to note the money is for the Hastings location.

Additional information is available on the agency website at www.caascm.org or by calling CEO Michelle Williamson at 877-422-2726.

“We’re looking at plans to develop the old Ponderosa building which has been vacant for quite a while,” said Alysia Timm, executive assistant to the CEO. “We will be moving our current preschool center on M-43 to the new location.”

Plans for the building include creating two rooms that will each accommodate eight children in the age ranges of 0-3 years and two rooms that will serve a combined total of 33 children ages three and four.

The agency’s general education diploma and high school equivalency preparation program will expand from serving the parents of the children enrolled in Head Start to include the general population.

The Hastings Community Action Center is the only center with a GED and high school equivalency program, Timm said, and the move will be a big benefit to parents and a huge improvement in location.

“We are excited to work in partnership with RenaissanceAdult Education Program and Michigan Works to expand to expand availability and accessibility to serve more community residents,” Community Action staff member Kristine Miller said. “The best thing about our program is the flexibility and the support and guidance offered.”

Charlie Wynne, director of adult education in Plainwell said his group is also excited to develop the partnership which provides a way to serve more under-educated individuals in Barry County. He said the cooperation will help to keep the waiting list down and create a much wider range of resources for students.

The Hastings location also will serve as an intake center for service applications, such as requests for help in home weatherization and commodity program sign-up, and clients will be connected to community resources for assistance in areas not provided by the agency.

“This is such a great opportunity for the community to help provide greater access to programs within walking distance and accessibility by bus for the people who need assistance,” Williamson said. “It also allows us to increase our services and provide a wonderful environment for learning.”

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