Blog Post

Collaboration Solves a Community Challenge

Posted on November 3, 2022

Cairns Community Center Reopens Through Community Partnerships and Shared Resources

Providing kids a safe place to grow and play is vital for the health of our communities. When Advancing Macomb learned that an important community center in Mount Clemens had closed because of lack of funding, we went to work.

The Cairns Community Center fills an essential gap in the Mount Clemens community as continued disinvestment and shrinking tax bases forced the city to cut back on recreational programming. These cuts put youth sports and recreational activities out of reach for many families.

Established in 2008 with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Cairns Community Center offers youth sports and recreational activities to help create a physically active and healthy community. The center was forced to close its doors in 2019 because of a lack of sustainable funding and operating partners.

The road to the reopening, however, took several twists and turns. In 2019 Advancing Macomb partnered with TCB Youth Mentoring, a nonprofit youth organization dedicated to assisting at-risk youth, to secure a $120,000 grant from Project Play to create a sports lending library in Mount Clemens. The library would operate from three sites and allow children to borrow sports equipment to play in their neighborhoods and communities. The program was slated to launch in March 2020, right as COVID hit. Realizing kids needed recreation more than ever, the program pivoted and, instead of a lending library, provided play packs with sports equipment to local children to encourage recreation at home. The program was a tremendous success — 300 play packs filled with sports equipment were distributed each week for nine weeks.

Despite the program’s success, Advancing Macomb and TCB Youth Mentoring realized a key component was missing. The Cairns Community Center remained closed, and the City of Mount Clemens lacked any recreation programming.

“Giving a kid a basketball isn’t the same as teaching a kid how to use a basketball,” said Thomas “Tommy” Barnes, president and founder of TCB Youth Mentoring. “There needs to be wraparound services for kids who want to play but don’t have the skills.”

Advancing Macomb collaborated with its community partners to solve this challenge and reopen the center. The City of Mount Clemens allocated some funding for building maintenance and operations, while Advancing Macomb worked to provide funding for recreational programming at the center. Advancing Macomb secured $290,000 in funding to enable the Cairns Community Center to reopen earlier this year.

Because of funding secured by Advancing Macomb, the City of Mount Clemens was able to contract with TCB Youth Mentoring as the new operating partner for Cairns Community Center. TCB Youth Mentoring has run its mentorship program out of the center since its construction and has a strong relationship with the surrounding community, particularly youth and families.

The Cairns Community Center plays a vital role in our community by keeping kids active while providing a safe haven for them to grow and play.

We are grateful to our community partners who helped make the reopening possible.

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