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Community Table: Reeb Avenue Center

Bright and colorful, a welcoming space for children and adults, Reeb Avenue Center is enriching the neighborhood, lifting it up, bringing hope to the South Side of Columbus. Housed in the century-old, red brick, former Reeb Elementary School, the 14 nonprofit tenants have been serving the community since fall 2015. South Side residents were asked: [...]
614now Staff

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Bright and colorful, a welcoming space for children and adults, Reeb Avenue Center is enriching the neighborhood, lifting it up, bringing hope to the South Side of Columbus. Housed in the century-old, red brick, former Reeb Elementary School, the 14 nonprofit tenants have been serving the community since fall 2015.

South Side residents were asked: What is it you need to get out of poverty? What is that pathway? Two major categories rose to the surface: workforce development and education. The nonprofit tenants of Reeb Avenue Center share services and collaborate, meeting these needs.

During summer months, neighborhood children need a safe place to go, a learning environment to thrive in, and nourishing food to eat. Programs at this community center prepare families for a healthy, productive start to the next school year.

Neighborhood residents move easily around the building, finding a variety of services. Organizations like South Side Boys & Girls Club, Godman Guild, Amethyst, and Community Development for All People share resources, and get creative in how they support families.

Reeb Avenue Center Boys and Girls Club

Photo by Brian Kaiser

At the info desk, a steady stream of visitors is directed to the services they need most. To create a “one stop shop,” the nonprofit tenants needed to co-locate, housed under one roof, in a location accessible to the residents they serve. This is important in a community with transportation challenges, educational deficits and high rates of food insecurity.

Through collaboration between private, public and government agencies, South Side residents have access to education (including earning a GED), career counseling, health services, drug rehab and other guidance, at little or no cost. The city traded 10 acres near the airport in exchange for the building, which receives state and city funding.

The overarching goal is to increase community involvement, providing opportunities for networking with neighbors, and building connections that last generations. The neighborhood was lacking a sense of place. South Side residents needed a way to feel at home, in a place they want to remain and give back to, lowering the rate of mobility out of the area.

Reeb Avenue Center Board Chair Tanny Crane (The Crane Group) and Board Secretary Jane Grote Abell (Donatos Pizza) were among the founders of the center. They rallied the private sector to invest in the rehabilitation of the old school. They brought private business partners down to see the building, allowing them to see the vision of the community that was developing.

On the Garden Level of Reeb Avenue Center, a warm welcome is offered, at South Side Roots Café, Market, & Kitchen; named by local residents. There is a steady stream of activity during the lunch rush, as plates of Falafel Burgers and Peanut Noodle Bowls with Chicken are carried from the kitchen to the café, with smiles all around.

The development of the café grew out of a need to create something different, a new concept that would not only bring food to area residents, but take a step in the direction of ending poverty altogether. Created by  Mid-Ohio Food Bank’s holistic approach, South Side Roots goes beyond free food distribution.

The café is a connector to the rest of the building, bringing people into a space where they can find programs to pull them out of poverty, in a setting that might otherwise be intimidating.

“This is our first experience doing direct client service, serving meals outside of the food bank,” said Amy Schiebel, Program Director with Mid-Ohio Food Bank. “Our CEO had a vision to mix income levels in a space where everyone can dine together. This is a hybrid program, to meet the mission and goals of the food bank.”

Culturally, we all celebrate around food! The café creates an environment on the South Side of Columbus where people are brought together, across demographic lines, strengthening community connections along the way.

The café and market work on a “pay what you can” model. Prices are listed, and if visitors are able to pay full price, then they are asked to do so.

There is an opportunity to “pay it forward,” by prepaying for a meal.

Residents who suffer food insecurity, unsure where they will find their next meal, can take advantage of the prepaid meal. Through the Volunteer-for-a-Meal program, residents learn skills, take pride in their work, and are able to learn about the services offered at the center.

“Volunteer-for-a-Meal is where we see life changes,” Schiebel explained. “We’ve seen people come back, after receiving a free meal, able to pay, saying ‘I have a job now!’ We set them up for success.”

Reeb Avenue Center Roots Southside Market

Photo by Brian Kaiser

South Side Roots makes a real difference by bringing jobs to the area. Local resident Cheryl Hesley, who has benefited from a variety of programs and services at the center, was informed that there was a job opening at the café.

Hesley, who has worked at the center for about one and a half months said: “I was hired on to do dishes, but I get to learn from being around the other workers. I’ve never cared much for doing the dishes at home, but I love my job, and the people I get to work with are the best part of the job.”

What is the outcome? Co-creating a sustainable community where everyone thrives, a neighborhood where residents remain to raise their children, who will grow into contributing community members.

Every Tuesday night the café serves a free dinner, open to all, as another way to bring people together. Schiebel explained that this is a way for families who have been working all day to come together, not worrying about cooking a meal, or making poor food choices elsewhere. Everything is fresh, healthy food, made from scratch.

The kitchen provides lunch and snacks for the Boys & Girls Club, and students at the South Side Learning & Development Center. Twice a month, just outside the café, free blood pressure and glucose testing are offered, providing valuable health information, along with guidance on how to eat healthfully.

Former Columbus mayor Mike Coleman was involved with the creation of the Reeb center from its conception. As the center was opening its doors in 2015, Crane told Columbus Metropolitan Club “I always hear the mayor saying that he wants a city where people can live, work and raise a family, and we want that for the South Side. We want people to stay in the South Side.” 

Reeb Avenue Center

280 Reeb Ave.

reebavenuecenter.org

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Community

Clintonville shop earns “America’s Best” award

614now Staff

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Clintonville's Johnny Velo Bikes has been named one of the top bike shops in the nation according to an industry source.

Johnny Velo Bikes has received an America’s Best Bike Shop award from the National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA). The shop is among only six in Ohio to earn the distinction.

“It's an honor to be recognized as one of the best bike shops out of more 4,000 shops in the country," owner John Robinson said in a statement. "We've only been in business for two years, but we've worked very hard to create a professional and friendly atmosphere for our customers."

The NBDA's America's Best Bike Shops program identifies and rewards bicycle stores in North America against the highest performance standards in the industry. The awards are issued based on an application and secret shopper process, with shops scored on layout and design, staff and management, training, marketing, and community involvement.

Contact John Robinson at 614-333-0012 or [email protected] for all your bike-related needs. For details on the shop, visit www.johnyyvelobikes.com.

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Arts & Culture

Maker’s Space: Kato Mitchell

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Following an initial disastrous experience with attempting to refurbish a personal pair of sneakers with acrylic paint years ago, a friend noticed Mitchell’s persistence, aiding him to perfect his craft. Though he began with primarily focusing on restoring his friends’ worn-down sneakers, Mitchell’s business, Work The Custom, has expanded to designing apparel in any range.

Just months after being highlighted as cleat designer for Braxton Miller’s Charg1ng summer football camp in Dayton, Mitchell’s clientele has accrued some big names in the sports world, and he has no intention of stopping. (614) caught up with Mitchell to learn more about Work The Custom, and his hope for reconstructing apparel in Columbus and beyond.

(614): When did you decide to transition from football to design?
KM: I’ve always had a passion for drawing and art, [but] I just lost my vision when I took actual art classes and didn’t like what we were doing. After college, I didn’t get any NFL calls, [and] I was trying to figure out what else I would love to do every day, and fell back in love with art.

What was your leap from “this thing I do” to the thing to do? How do you promote your work? After I realized how many people wanted to show who they really are with art, and I was someone who could help do that, that was my ironing point. I promote my work through Instagram and Facebook for the most part, but I do go to sneaker events from time-to-time to pass out business cards.

Is this your primary gig, side gig or hobby? How did it come to be?
It’s my side gig for the moment, but trying to grow and learn to make it my full-time career. I had a pair of shoes that were beat up and didn’t want to buy more so I painted them, but one of my friends taught me the game and how to prosper from it.

What life changes do you feel have propelled your work? How have your customizations evolved? Playing football for a place like Ohio State and doing work for Buckeyes in the NFL and for the OSU football team has helped grow my work faster and further. My customs have evolved just by me growing up and seeing different things, learning different things, practicing everyday, and being able to adapt.

Do you have a specific audience that you want to appeal to?
I want my work to be for everyone. My work can range from baby shoes to youth high school players of all sports, to walls of homeowners and businesses, to shoes for pro athletes.

What ingredients come together to make Columbus a fertile ground for makers, designers and creatives? Columbus is a growing market and very friendly. It has new businesses starting every week and everyone is trying to help everyone else.

What’s your six-word creative story?

Work The Custom is coming fast!

To get in contact with Mitchell, or to see more designs, follow him on Instagram at @katowork19.

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Sports

Twitter Reacts: Bucks score #1 spot in first official playoff rankings

Mike Thomas

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The first official rankings for the 2019 College Football Playoff were announced yesterday, and the Buckeyes have landed at the top of the pile. The ranking marks the first time the Buckeyes have held the #1 spot since the inception of the playoff system.

Needless to say, social media is abuzz with reactions to this historic moment for Ryan Day's squad. Enjoy this roundup of reactions to the announcement from around Twitterverse, and Go Bucks!

https://twitter.com/11W/status/1191906549750489088
https://twitter.com/BarstoolOSU/status/1191906673960652800
https://twitter.com/lawschoollex/status/1191909159815524353
https://twitter.com/CaliBuckeyeGuy/status/1191906878181105664
https://twitter.com/ESPNCFB/status/1191906381999353856
https://twitter.com/ArrogantBuckeye/status/1191907918691622913
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