Report on organizing for a Gerena Community Center in the North End
October 4, 2012
Earlier this year, North End residents requested that the City of Springfield makerepairs to the Gerena Community School building. Community members wereconcerned about the environmental state of the school building, the lack of security in the tunnel, and the lack of access that residents had to the building’scommunity spaces. Now that the City has invested significant time and resourcesinto repairing the building, North End community members are excited to use thepublic spaces once again as a vibrant community center.For the past two months, North End residents organizing through theneighborhood groups Voices of the Community, SEIU Community Action, andNeighbor to Neighbor have gone door-to-door, asking their neighbors whatprograms, activities and services they most need for a new Gerena communitycenter. The three groups then hosted a neighborhood event on Saturday,September 29
. In total, the three groups held nearly 500 conversations about aNorth End community center.
The top ten priorities for North End residents are afterschool homework help for students; counseling and family therapy; job and workforce development; GEDclasses; afterschool computer help for students; sports teams for youth likefootball, basketball, baseball and soccer; daycare; music programs; and health,sex education and teen pregnancy prevention classes.
Requests of the School Committee:
1. Reduce barriers to making the Gerena School building accessible to NorthEnd residents so that the space can be used as a community center during after-school hours, weekends, and summers.a. Keep tunnel doors open longer in the evenings and on weekends.b. Alleviate permitting requirements so that the building can moreeasily be used.2. Work with community members to create a vibrant community center atGerena so that North End residents’ needs are met.