Thursday, September 27, 2001

Parents' aid has new digs

Dominican Services now in housing project

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The simple brown-and-white sign announcing new digs for Dominican Community Services makes Marcia Simmons beam.

[photo] Vivian Jackson (center), a teacher with Dominican Community Services, walks with Myeshia Rice, 4 (left), and Jerell Gordon, 4
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        “We're much more visible,” said Ms. Simmons, executive director for the nonprofit agency providing day-care and parenting help to young, lower-income single mothers.

        The 75-year-old agency made a concerted effort to help Cincinnati's poorest neighborhoods — West End and Over-the-Rhine — in the 1960s.

        But more than a decade ago, the agency decided that it could help more by helping young mothers through its Visions program. It provides day care to 76 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years, and offers parenting advice to their mothers.

        On Wednesday, the agency officially moved to 425 Ezzard Charles Drive, in the lower level of a Lincoln Courts public-housing building, from 1409 John St.,

        Children and mothers, along with staff members, paraded down nearby streets and held a picnic to celebrate the occasion.

        “It's a real neighborhood effort,” Ms. Simmons said. “We provide an extremely vital service. For every mother who is here, that family is able to have a mom in school” or at work.

[photo] Marcia Simmons (left), executive director of Dominican Community Services, makes a face at Lawrence Woods, 1. The tot is being held by Myra Richardson, a teacher's assistant, on Wednesday.
(Craig Ruttle photos)
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        “We look at (the agency) as a way to empower our mothers, to better their lives and the lives of our children,” she said.

        Tashena Woods, 18, who lives in Lincoln Court, relies on the agency. She quit high school when she became pregnant with her son, Lawrence.

        She knew of Dominican Community Services through her mother, Lillian Woods, who does outreach for the group.

        Ms. Woods met the agency's qualifications and enrolled her son in the day-care program. She has been able to pursue her G.E.D. and keep her job at the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.

        A successful $1 million fund-raising campaign made the move possible.

        There are separate quarters for different age groups. The infant suite has 24 cribs, for example. Toys and learning games are everywhere.

        It is a United Way agency.


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