Community spotlight: Settlement House reflects on growth PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 September 2007 00:00

Neighborhoods change and evolve through the years, but some traditions are carried from generation to generation. This year marks the 90th anniversary of Charles Settlement House — an institution serving the residents of northwest Rochester. This year has been a time to look back at our history and tradition. More importantly, it is a time to look forward and grow in new directions.

Our logo is a strong and sturdy tree. I like to think of it as a family tree. The roots of Charles Settlement House are deep. A group of Catholic lay women founded the organization as a way to help new Italian and German immigrants settle their families in northwest Rochester. The leader, Harriet Barry, named the house after her father, Charles Barry.

Over the past nine decades, our family tree has spread its roots throughout the neighborhood with one goal — strengthening the families in our midst. We have withstood storms, just as the people who turn to us for help. As we begin a new decade of service, we will grow and touch new generations of families.

We are committed to being a place where children, teens, parents and seniors come for a variety of reasons. What they all have in common is a desire to be part of a stronger community.

Anniversaries are a time of reflection and a time of planning. We updated our strategic plan, refined some programs and launched new initiatives. New partnerships with neighborhood groups like JOSANA, Sector 3 Planning Committee, Lyell Avenue 230 Group, Celebration of Life and the Northwest Rochester Rotary Club have been formed. We strengthened collaborations with School 17, the Campbell Street Recreation Center, United Way of Greater Rochester, Foodlink, Rochester Area Community Foundation and others.

Over the past four months we renewed our efforts to get more neighbors involved in community development. The Charles House Advisory Community (CHAC) was formed as a vehicle to foster dialogue with the residents. It also is a tool to engage residents and other stakeholders in shaping the revitalization efforts that are under way in the neighborhoods surrounding Charles House. Working with established groups and the City's Bureau of Planning, residents are making their voices heard about issues impacting their quality of life.

We view this CHAC effort as vital to shaping the future of Charles House and, more important, to our role in strengthening the community of people who live here. Our vision is "to transform the Northwest neighborhoods of Rochester through community development and the provision of coordinated, life-changing human services."

Every day Charles Settlement House employees and volunteers live out that vision statement. Our Ready, Set, Grow pre-school program nurtures young children, some of whom are from second and third generation Charles House families. We are shaping the future generations with quality youth development programs, including an after-school program in School 17, a Teen Club and programs at Jefferson High School. Families in crisis turn to our food pantry and Family Services department. Each weekday dozens of senior adults enjoy nutritious meals and social activities at the Northwest Senior Center and at Dunn Towers, in partnership with the Monroe County Office for the Aging.

We will celebrate our past with a special 90th Anniversary & Awards Luncheon Nov. 1 at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. We encourage alumni from Charles House to join us. For more information and reservations, call (585) 277-0810.

Just as the neighborhoods we serve have changed, Charles House has changed over time. We must adapt to changing community needs and new fiscal challenges. As we move into the future, it is with confidence that our strong roots will continue to grow and support the Charles Settlement House family tree!

Scott Benjamin is president and CEO of Charles Settlement House.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 04 September 2008 14:13 )