The Kiwanis Club of Ravenna, OH has taken on a service project to build a permanent, ADA compliant playground for the Community Action Council (CAC) of Portage County's Youth and Family Center. The playground will serve the CAC Youth and Family Center, which provides after school and summer programming for low income families. Kiwanis and CAC are seeking grants and donations from a variety of organizations, foundations and private citizens in order to facilitate this purchase and installation. Site work is planned to begin in 2020, with project completion in the summer of 2021.
Grant funds and donations will be deposited and managed by the Kiwanis Club of Ravenna through the Ohio District Kiwanis Club of Ravenna Club Advised Fund, which is a sub-fund of the Ohio District Kiwanis Foundation, Inc., an exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Ravenna Kiwanis Club is a local branch of Kiwanis International, whose mission is to "change the world one child and one community at a time".
CAC is a non-profit 501c3 organization created in 1965 that provides energy assistance, weatherization, and youth services to low income households in Portage and Trumbull counties. CAC also runs the summer food program through SFSP in Portage County, with nine centers that serve children up to 18 at no cost to families. CAC served 12,176 families and/or 24,854 individuals in the last year.
The Youth Center was built in the early 1960s as a Boys’ Club and served boys and girls in Portage County until the center abruptly closed the in 2010. CAC took over the building and operations immediately, and runs the facility with program funding provided through Community Service Block Grant Funds and a small amount of private donations. The center operates an after school program for children aged 5 to 15 at no cost to the family, four days a week for three hours per night with over 80% of those children coming from low income families. CAC also provides a summer program serving Portage County students aged 5 to 15, five days per week for 8 hours per day, with a nominal charge to cover transportation costs contracted through the Ravenna School District for field trips. Breakfast and lunch are included at no cost to families.
The current playground space is fenced with a large asphalt area and two adult-sized basketball hoops built in the 1960s. It has no other permanent structures, thus requiring Youth Center staff to drag out portable playground equipment daily and to frequently replace it due to wear and tear. Ravenna Kiwanis intends to purchase high-qualty permanent playground structures including an ADA compliant multi-purpose climber and covered area to provide shade. A community build will take place upon the purchase of these structures and a safe underlayment will be applied to the ground as a part of the installation.