‘A rest area and a welcome center’
The Family Center opens renovated facility in Wilmore
By Olivia Mohr
A crowd of children, parents, business people and other guests gathered outside of The Family Center on a sunny day in Wilmore on June 13 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and re-opening hosted by the Jessamine Chamber of Commerce to introduce the facility’s new renovations.
The crowd took a tour of the facility to see the renovations. A Tacos La Jarochita truck parked outside and served snacks to guests who were touring the facility.
The new additions to the Family Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to provide resources to families and serve as a meeting place in the community, include a renovated art room, complete with wooden floors and paint-splattered tables, and a multipurpose room.
The multipurpose room is currently used for an exercise program for senior citizens called Flex and a space for Girl Scout troops to meet. It is full of tables and chairs as well as weights and yoga mats for exercise programs, and it will be able to be rented out for events like birthday parties and other gatherings.
The renovations also include a reception room and two new large, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. The back entrance of the Center is also wheelchair accessible.
Tara Hall, executive director of the Family Center, gave a speech to the crowd before the ribbon cutting ceremony and tour.
“The Family Center is a vital part of being a rest area and a welcome center, a place for kids and families, but really anyone, especially with our accessible restrooms,” she said during her speech.
The renovations were funded by an approximately $6,400 grant from 100 Women Who Care Jessamine County and about $3,200 in fundraising. Renovations began Feb. 1 and were completed Feb. 28, Hall said. Previously, the Family Center only had the front part of the building, where they have been for about three years.
During her speech, Hall said the Family Center’s board is growing — recently, it gained two new board members — and she discussed the Center’s plans for the year and the future.
Hall said the Center is looking for a place for a bookstore in downtown Wilmore, the Center is hoping for 30 more Friends of the Family Center to provide monthly donations of $20, and she is also hoping for more gold-level sponsors who are businesses or corporations who can pay $1,000 to the center so the center can highlight the business or corporation and display a large banner advertising the business or corporation for the Center’s visitors.
The Center attracts an average of 400 visitors a month with up to 700-800 visitors some months. Events are typically $5-15 at the Center.
Hall hopes for the Center to also develop teen programs and more adult and exercise programs, which she said require funding and volunteers.
“Having this multipurpose space, the sky is the limit,” Hall said. “We would love to see more teen activities, especially.”
Hall said with the renovation of the art room, she hopes the Center will have the opportunity to organize additional art classes, not only for children, but also adults and teens.
The Family Center operates through forming community connections, Hall said. If someone is good at something and wants to organize a class, Hall can make that happen as long as there are volunteers and funds available.
“It’s about connecting those who want to serve with those who are looking for the services,” she said.
Founded October 2015, Hall said the Family Center was her invention. She established it because she noticed in Wilmore, like in many other semi-rural areas in Kentucky, resources including counseling, doctors and activities families can enjoy together are available but might require a 30 to 45 minute drive to a different city or town.
Some families may not have the time or money to attain those resources, she said. Through the Family Center, she strives to bring some of those resources to Wilmore at an affordable cost, especially through her partnerships.
For example, the center is starting a partnership with a Harrodsburg organization called Children and Family Counseling Associates, or CAFCA. Hall said CAFCA will offer family and children counseling Tuesday afternoons from 1 to 5 p.m. during the summer for a reasonable cost and accept all insurances. If CAFCA does well with gaining clients in the area during the summer, Hall hopes for an after school program with clients in the fall.
Hall said the Center also strives to work with special needs children and has run a special needs play group for children.
“I have a son who’s on the autism spectrum, so I understand how hard it is to live in an area where there are services available, but even sometimes 30 and 45 minutes away,” she said. “That can really be hard on a working family to go and get the help that they need.”
The center has also seen a need for parenting classes in the community, Hall said. This would allow families to connect with one another and create peer-to-peer support as families connect with other families in the community.
Board member Tim Vaughan, who has been a board member for over a year, said he is excited for the Center’s renovations because the renovations allow for more space for parents to learn about parenting, including information about sleep and nutrition, and for activities to be held.
Vaughan said the Family Center allows children to play and learn while serving as a place for parents to talk to each other and learn more about parenting, which he said is an ongoing process.
“You learn by experience,” he said. “You learn as you go.”