Friday, August 15, 2003

Center halfway to $1M goal

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - The Covington Community Center has reached the halfway point in its $1 million capital campaign with a recent gift from retired banker Ralph Haile Jr., supporters say.

Haile has donated $100,000 to the campaign through the Covington Business Council's CBC Foundation, said Ellen Muse-Lindeman, development director for the Covington Community Center. Haile, the retired chairman of Star Bank (now U.S. Bank), challenged the community to match his gift.

What: Evening in Italy fund-raiser for Covington Community Center capital campaign
Where: Amos Shinkle Townhouse, 215 Garrard St., Covington
When: 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 23
Features: Dinner by Karlo's Bistro Italia, open bar, live music, performance by My Nose Turns Red Theatre Company.
Admission: Tickets are $75 per person in advance. All proceeds go to Covington Community Center's capital campaign.
Information or reservation: Ellen Muse-Lindeman at (859) 491-2220, ext. 14.
"Ralph's gift is extremely significant, both in terms of the amount and the positive reference that he gives us,'' said Tom DiBello, executive director of the Covington Community Center. "This will really encourage other people to step up and contribute. An organization like ours doesn't have the donor base to write a lot of big checks.''

Supporters hope to raise $1 million by next summer for the 26-year-old center. Most of that will be used to purchase the 7,400-square-foot building that the nonprofit agency has leased for the past 21/2 years.

The rest will be used to build a 1,500-square-foot addition, renovate the existing facility and make other changes aimed at expanding citizen-led efforts to improve the quality of life in Covington.

Major contributors to the campaign include Fifth Third Bank, Procter and Gamble, the Ruth and Robert Conway Foundation, the Bank of Kentucky, Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, Spaulding Foundation, the Thomas J. Emory Memorial, Robert H. Reakirt Foundation and the Josephine Schell Russell Charitable Trust, Lindeman said.

Besides generating funds for the non-profit agency, major gifts speak to the Covington Community Center's credibility, said Ron Washington, chairman of the center's capital campaign. That's especially welcome now, when potential donors may confuse the Covington Community Center with the financially troubled Northern Kentucky Community Center.

"Often, when I'm soliciting for the Covington Community Center, people get them confused,'' said Washington, who serves as Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn's chief deputy. "They're two different organizations."

Dennis Fangman, president of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association, said that his neighborhood donated $200 because leaders are pleased with projects including painting community murals, building a neighborhood playground and helping residents cut through red tape at city offices.

"They're just super," Fangman said. "There's no other group in the city doing as much as they are to make Covington more livable.''

Washington, whose mother worked at the Covington Community Center, knows the center's influence first-hand. He grew up in Covington's Mutter Gottes neighborhood in the 1970s but through the center he and his three siblings visited farms and places outside of their inner-city neighborhood.

"The Covington Community Center helps individuals and organizations in the community realize their goals and how to achieve them,'' Washington said. "(Center employees) stay in the background, and that's how it should be."


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