JEFFERSONVILLE — In less than two months, leaders at Community Action of Southern Indiana expect to have all of their programs implemented at the organization’s new site in the Claysburg neighborhood of Jeffersonville.
It’s a move those involved say will be a huge benefit to the community by being more accessible to those who need its services.
“We feel really really great about it,” said Community Action of Southern Indiana (CASI) Executive Director Phil Ellis about being able to start the move. The organization closed several weeks ago on the former Spring Hill Elementary School site on 15th Street, and staff have already started readying the property for the move. For the past three decades, CASI was located at Eighth Street.
“We had the opportunity to come in and do some initial cleaning. It just feels good to be able to get in here, to get the building back in shape and get ready for our initial move in and the services we’ll provide for our residents.”
On Thursday evening, CASI hosted an open house to let residents see the new facility and learn more about those services, which include energy, housing and employment assistance, small business development training, health support and Head Start programs.
Pamela Clark, Minority Health Initiative director, was among the dozens of staff and community members who attended. For her, the move brings her back to her roots — she grew up in the neighborhood and attended Spring Hill.
“As I walk through the halls, I remember my kindergarten class, I remember my second grade class...so I’ve kind of come full circle,” she said. “The community has a lot of rich history and I’m proud to come back; I feel like I’m bringing something back.
“I’m excited, the community should be excited. I think we are going to do a lot of things that will advance a lot of folks to become self-sufficient.”
The Minority Health Initiative she helps lead addresses chronic health issues, which put minorities at greater risk of dying.
“With the health disparities and what’s going on in the world today, I think we are needed more than ever in this community,” she said.
Tours were offered during the event and after the ribbon-cutting, attendees gathered for snacks and door prizes.
Maurice Ball, who DJ’d the event, helps lead CASI’s Life Literacy Academy. Through this, he helps mentor youth 6th through 12th grades — something he said is crucial to helping raise a strong generation to follow.
“They’re our future and if we’re not teaching them how to navigate and sustain in society, then we are failing,” he said. “We’re all eventually going to die out and then what’s the quality of youth that’s coming behind us?”
He added that he was excited about the new CASI location and hopes it can be an anchor to residents the way Spring Hill had been. The school, along with Maple Elementary, closed earlier this year to coincide with the opening of the new Franklin Square Elementary on Court Avenue.
“It’s going to be great,” Ball said. “I think this in particular, it’s going to revitalize the neighborhood and bring life back to the community.”