Washington St Center

Washington Street Community Center Receives SBA Loan to Help Continue Their Mission

Covington, Ga.

The Washington Street Community Center has a long history in the city of Covington, Ga. The building which houses the Center originally served as a school for African American children before desegregation. It was revitalized in 1996 and converted into a non-profit organization that provides after school tutoring and activities for children in need, emphasizing health, education and welfare.

Through the Center, children have access to resources they would not normally receive including tutoring, meals and enrichment programs. These programs include music, gardening, cooking and Boy Scouts. They are led by volunteers, including staff from Emory University. Teachers work with children ever day after school, five days a week to make sure they stay on top of their academics and receive a hot meal. There are currently 43 children in the program, which goes through the fifth grade. Over the lifetime of the program, the Center has served a diverse population of more than 3,500 youth and their families.

“Many of the children we serve are raised by their grandparents,” said LeKeyia Reid, President of the Board of Directors for the Washington St. Community Center. “The Center provides that extra level of support for them in many aspects of their lives. It’s not only instructional but also a comfort for both the children and their families.”

Pandemic Complications and the Need for a Small Business Loan

When COVID-19 hit, one of the main issues facing the children who rely on the Washington St. Community Center was access.

“Because these kids lack resources at home, we were very concerned about how they would complete their work,” said Reid. “We contacted each family individually to figure out how we could help the children work through their virtual learning obligations without being physically present in the Center.”

While school was in session and through numerous volunteer hours, the Center found a way to provide extra virtual tutoring three days a week, which included language arts, science, math and history. Volunteers also hosted a virtual exercise class every Friday and continued to conduct regular parent meetings.

Without access to the Center’s resources, many of the children who participate in the program missed out on the hot meals they were used to receiving on a regular basis. Quickly realizing they had to help fill the gap, Center volunteers stepped in with bi-weekly snack drives to help provide the families with nutritious food options they could pick up and take home.

“The response was incredible,” said Reid. “Every single family showed up for the snack drive each time. We knew we had to stay in touch with these kids to help them stay on the radar.” The Board and their team of volunteers were determined to continue their mission, despite the pandemic.

Covering the Bases with a United Bank Small Business Loan

As an owner of her own private business, Reid knew that the Center could benefit from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.

The Center opted for a community-oriented banking partner, selecting United Bank to help with their PPP application. Even though the organization is primarily volunteer-based, there are a few full-time employees, including the Director, who needed to go into the Center on a weekly basis to facilitate the virtual learning opportunities for the children, pay the utilities and organize the snack drives.

Though their financial requirements were not substantial, the money the Center applied for would make a big difference in the everyday lives of the 43 program participants and their families.

United Bank’s Diane McGoldrick processed the application, and the Washington Street Community Center was approved for funding within the second government stimulus package.

“We are United Bank customers and we are a community-focused organization. We wanted to work with a bank we knew was also dedicated to giving back to the community,” said Reid. “The process was smooth and the approval was fast. Now we can make sure these kids don’t slip through the cracks.”

Keeping Hope Alive

With the funding received through the PPP loan, the Washington St. Community Center continues to help children in need in Newton County. The Center is now planning a virtual summer camp as well as additional snack drives and other activities that will provide positive reinforcement during the next few months. The dedicated volunteers and staff members are committed to these children and hope to serve more in the future.

“We knew we had something special with the Center, but this pandemic has cast a new light on the needs we meet on a daily basis,” said Reid. “To see how it has affected these families is humbling, but with United Bank’s help, we haven’t missed a beat.”

We thank our friends at the Washington Street Community Center for all they do to support children of the Covington community.