Sunday, December 09, 2001

Charity official plans new center for family care




By Denise Smith Amos
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Eva Roberson and the other volunteers at SUCCESS Inc. know that sometimes it's the clothes that make the man or woman.

        Since 1997, the nonprofit has been outfitting the unemployed and under-employed to help them get and keep jobs.

        Some 500 men and women from the Tristate have received free dressy professional, business-casual and other work clothing from the North Avondale charity.

        Now Ms. Roberson is preparing to tackle another impediment to full-time employment — family issues.

        She has signed a contract on a building she plans to turn into an intergenerational day-care and activity center.

        The building, at Shuttlesworth and Reading, would be one of only a few in the state to house under oen roof full-time care for children and adults, as well as activities for senior citizens.

        A $300,000 purchase contract has been signed, Ms. Roberson said, but the funding isn't there yet.

        She is working with Lightning Financial Services to get funds for the purchase and for the center's proposed $1.5 million annual operating budget.

        She says she hopes to open the center next year.

        “This is really some faith talking now,” she said.

        Ms. Roberson also is relying on her reputation and connections, she said.

        Besides her Avondale Community Council work, Ms. Roberson has been active in other community organization and fund-raising efforts, from protesting crime in neighborhoods to encouraging the expansion of Ronald MacDonald House, to helping with light-rail plans.

        “I'm one of those professional volunteer people,” she said. “I see a need in the community, and I want to make a difference.”

        She began volunteering for Head Start in 1994 and ended up representing this part of Ohio in its regional and national efforts.

        She got involved in clothing the unemployed when the Opportunity Closet, a similar operation, lost its location and moved its clothes to the FreeStore/FoodBank.

        The only other major charitable “closet” in Cincinnati is Dress For Success, downtown, which offers women professional attire while giving them advice and career assistance.

        SUCCESS stands for Standing United to Communicate and Concentrate on Excellence in Self-Sufficiency.

        Clients are referred from job-readiness agencies and organizations such as Hope House and Talbert House.

        In turn, SUCCESS refers people to nonprofit job transportation services so people can get to their work.

        Her clients come in all ages, shapes and sizes, she said, but the agency specializes in outfitting plus sizes.

        Blacks and whites from throughout the Tristate come there, she said.

        “It's a mixture. I'm very diversified,” she said.

        She keeps a file on each client to follow up with help and to document her agency's work.

        SUCCESS is linked with the Women's Alliance, a national network of similar community groups.

        Since 1991, more than 100,000 women nationwide have gained training, clothing and assistance at the alliance's nearly 60 organizations, including two more in Ohio.

        Ms. Roberson says she doesn't need clothes donations.

        “I have an overabundance of clothes,” she said, adding that she could use more volunteers and assistance setting up the planned center.

        For information about SUCCESS Inc., call 961-7593 or e-mail success029@aol.com. To contact the Women's Alliance, call (305) 762-6400 or go online at www.thewomensalliance.org.
       

       



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