United Way breaking ground on a new neighborhood project

NOW: United Way breaking ground on a new neighborhood project

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- A first-of-its kind project is coming to Michiana! United Way of St. Joseph County is breaking ground on Tuesday on a new neighborhood center in South Bend. The Southeast Neighborhood Center focuses on education, youth and community development in the area, all aiming to fight poverty issues.  

It’ll be built on the corner of Fellows Street and Dubail Avenue in South Bend, on a total of 5 empty lots that have been donated to United Way. The center will include: 

  • An early learning program: designed to meet the state's highest quality rating and will serve up to 112 children from infants to pre-k age.  
  • A clinical space for free healthcare services, along with additional transportation programs to help the immediate needs for primary care, dental, mental health, o-b, and pharmaceutical services. 

  • A programing service to support youth 12-to-18-year old's who need a safe and accessible place to go with opportunities and resources for education and help. 

  •  24-single family affordable housing units. 

This the only “under-one-roof concept” in St. Joseph County. 

“It’s just really bringing the community together in one place to reduce barriers, increase accessibility, and really just help every single person who interacts with the center in one way, shape or form,” United Way of St. Joseph County President and CEO Laura Jenson said. 

It’s been a long time coming for the project, as it has been in discussion since 2018, and had plans to break ground last year, but had to be pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Southeast Neighborhood is home to over 2,684 people, 895 of which are under the age of 19. According to United Way, residents there who have a higher poverty rate are younger and are impacted by lower educational attainment in comparison to other city residents. President and CEO of United Way of St. Joseph County says, the neighborhood center is a game changer.  

“While it’s in the southeast neighborhood, and we hope to engage with as many residents in that neighborhood, it’s open to the entire county, to the entire region. Whatever type of service or for however long you need us, we’re going to be there! I think that’s what excites me the most,” Jenson said. 

This center will serve anyone and everyone, no matter what your age is. United Way’s mission with the center, and with all of its project, is to just create positive change in the community we live in.  

“We started looking at data and where the needs are. The southeast neighborhood is identified as a healthcare desert, a child's care desert, a social service, a food desert, so all the signs were pointing to this area,” Jenson said. “It’s something we believed in for so long and have so many people step forward and say yes, and we are going to support this financially or with our time, and have our partners say we’re here and we’re in it together...it’s really, really emotional,” Jenson said.  

The groundbreaking ceremony kicked off at 10 AM Tuesday morning and construction is underway. 

The Southeast Neighborhood Center should be completed by summer of 2022. 

If you want to learn more about the project or how to get involved, you can visit United Way’s website by clicking here. 

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