The stories on this page are part of a series we’re rolling out this fall to raise awareness for the different ways we create positive change in Covington. If you like what you read, please consider supporting this important work, either by making a donation, volunteering your time, or sharing with others.

A Place to Turn Ideas into Reality

The Hellmann Creative Center is a community hub where neighbors, family, and children can connect to improve their lives and community. Hand in hand with residents, we designed the building to be used in many ways: host a community event and rent one of our public meeting spaces, expand your creative business by leasing one of our 8 studios, or just stop by and take in the amazing architecture of this 150-year-old lumber mill. Our goal is to make this building a welcoming place for ALL.

Over the past 4 years, we’ve seen this dream bear fruit as Hellmann has become a second home to many in the community.  We have groups that meet here most weeks: Tai Chi, the Covington Writers Group, Music Together for parents and toddlers, a Pre-K Readiness Group, and Blacks In Technology.  Hellmann is also home to the NKY Refugee Ministries, Community and Restorative Justice, and numerous neighborhood groups such as the Covington Street Hockey League, the Linden Grove Cemetery Board of Overseers, etc.    On an annual basis, Hellmann hosts indoor and outdoor community-wide events, including the Kentucky State High School Art Show, the Westside Spring Celebration and a Global Holiday Market. 

In addition to these recurring events and meetings, we often see Hellmann morph into unexpected one-time uses such as: a wood shop for high school students, a space for a non-traditional prom night, a staging ground for neighborhood cleanup supplies, or somewhere to celebrate life events like bridal and, baby showers, and rehearsal dinners.  Most recently, a beloved community member passed away. His wife desired to hold a memorial service in the community where he lived so that his neighbors could all attend, which is why she chose Hellmann stating that it “was a beautiful and accessible place to celebrate his life and contributions to the neighborhood.”

Thankfully, Hellmann was available to accommodate the memorial service. In fact, this is exactly why the building is here: to be a resource to the community and all its life events. We strive to keep the cost affordable to residents in the community so that all incomes are able to use the building for baby showers, family parties, art shows, etc. In order to do this, we need to raise additional dollars each year to cover our cleaning and maintenance costs for the community rooms. Your gift will help us keep these rooms affordable and open to ALL in the community.

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Cultivating Tomorrow’s Leaders

This spring, 11-year-old Lily Jones woke up on a Saturday morning in Latonia, gathered her family, and set out to make a difference.  The family took on a beautification project together to spruce up a Latonia gateway sign, tearing out overgrown weeds, touching up the sign’s paint, and adding new surrounding plants for the annual Great American Clean Up.  What inspired Lily and her family to volunteer that day? In major part, it was her participation in BLOCK (Born Leaders of Covington, Kentucky), where Lily got her start in community service.

BLOCK is a 12-week after school program for 4th and 5th grade students provided by The Center for Great Neighborhoods for over 15 years.  BLOCK students spend their afternoon with The Center’s staff learning about their community, gaining valuable leadership skills and developing their social and emotional capacity. The result? Inspired youth like Lily with a new sense of civic responsibility and the experience of crafting and completing a service-learning project that benefits the broader community.

When Lily participated in BLOCK at Glenn O Swing Elementary from 2016 to 2018, she and her classmates dreamed up and executed projects like adding colorful plantings to the landscaping beds in front of their school to make the school feel more welcoming for students and families, and a project to demonstrate appreciation for cafeteria and janitorial workers to recognize the contribution these key staff make to the quality of life for students at the school.  Each service-learning project implemented by BLOCK students impacts the community by providing residents with new information, persuading community members to be involved, or creating a positive change in their neighborhood.

Like many of our BLOCK graduates, Lily plans to stay involved in her school and community beyond her time in the program: “I have been in BLOCK program for 3 years and I learned a lot.  Now that I am in middle school, I want to come back as a volunteer to help others learn the importance of helping your community.”  And, we look forward to continuing to create opportunities for Lily to do just that!

We believe our youth have so much to add to Covington’s story and it’s important to us to create a culture of civic-minded youth, who value volunteerism and work together to make Covington a great place to be for all ages.  As a community, we can unite to create a culture of civic-minded youth, who value volunteerism and work together to create a positive impact in their community.  If you agree, please consider supporting programs like BLOCK by supporting The Center.

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Want to get involved in other ways?  Our students are eager to learn about their community and learn from their neighbors. Volunteers are needed to help lead neighborhood tours throughout the city, guide students with their service-learning projects, and offer skills, connections, and ideas for their project implementation. Contact us today to learn about how to get involved in this and other youth programs!

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