BTW Center art room renovation supported by Leadership Hamilton

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The kids at the Booker T. Washington Community Center have a new place to create art, thanks to Hamilton community members.

Earlier this month, Leadership Hamilton Class 31 helped raise $16,000 toward a $28,000 renovation project, as well as secure in-kind donations.

Great Miami Valley YMCA President and CEO Mike Bramer said this project shows the community cares not only about the BTW Center, but the kids and adults that spend several hours a week at the 70-year-old facility. The art room, he hopes, will not only showcase new talents, but it “builds resiliency in these young people that they have something creative that they can do.”

“The Booker T. Washington Center has a good reputation in the community,” Bramer said of the YMCA facility. “I think the YMCA has a good reputation, too. Leadership Hamilton, the Chamber has a good reputation. You start putting those partners together, and good things happen.”

Art, in the opinion of Booker T. Washington Center Director Ebony Brock, “is one of the best forms of expression. It’s art, and it can be interpreted in many different ways. I wanted a place where my kids felt like this was theirs.”

Leadership Hamilton is a several-month-long program through the Greater Hamilton Chamber, and each class has a community project. Bramer said when the class toured the facility and saw another area recently renovated, they wanted to see more.

Brock said it was important for the kids of the facility to see a place they call home within Hamilton be revitalized as they see the community surrounding them get new life. The center will continue to see new life as the YMCA begins a $1.5 million expansion project next year, adding two new rooms to the South Front Street center.

“I look at a lot of things almost like plants. If you’re not growing, you’re dying, so if our programs aren’t growing, we’re not staying relevant, and thus we’re dying,” said Brock. “I want to stay relevant.”

One example of growth will be incorporating AI classes, which will likely require another grant for additional funds to bring in computers.

The art room will see a second phase, but that will include the kids.

“We’ve done a really good job of teaching them the importance of stewardship, and so even as much as you get, it’s really good to give,” Brock said. “I think they see this as our way of giving back to them. My hope is that they will come back and give it back to the next generation. Even the mural that they will co-create (in Phase 2), that is a way for them to give to the generations that will come behind them.”

Bramer said the Booker T. Washington Center serves several dozens of kids in the neighborhoods surrounding South Front Street and provides the youth, as well as seniors in the community, a positive place to congregate. And as the center embarks on a large expansion project, Bramer said, “We’re excited about the future of BTW Center.”

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