Sunday, October 29, 2000

Center celebrates its success

Helping the less fortunate

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — The Oxford Family Resource Center's mortgage will burn today, but nobody will call the fire department.

        It's all part of a celebration — of self-sufficiency and community spirit.

        Volunteers who established the center are understandably proud. In only three years their group has gone from a good idea to reality — helping the community's less fortunate in various ways.

        “I'd say we're a model of how a community can work together,” said Kathleen Carels, a volunteer receptionist.

        The center, at 5445 College Corner Pike, is owned and operated by Oxford/Talawanda Community Services. The group helps people with housing needs, rental and prescription assistance, job searches, clothing and other problems.

        With financial help from the city, groups and residents, Community Services has been able to pay off the $343,000 mortgage on the Resource Center's land and three buildings, bought in August 1997. The mortgage will be burned during a celebration from 2-4 p.m today, said administrator Mary Jo Clark.

        The origins of the group go back to 1996, when Congress passed a welfare-reform law that gave greater responsibility to the states. Local leaders — of the city, the old Oxford Advisory Welfare Services, McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital, various church and civic groups and other agencies — wondered how the law would affect Oxford's needy.

        Community leaders committed themselves to continue providing food, clothing and housing assis tance, and to forming the Family Resource Center.

        Later that year, they received a gift of $52,000 from the estate of Josephine Dunn. The Welfare Advisory group changed its name to Oxford/Talawanda Community Services and bought the site on College Corner Pike.

        These days, the group also administers city money for rental assistance and utilities and offers a number of other services.

        “Our mission,” Ms. Clark said, “is to provide avenues toward self-sufficiency.”


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