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Ebenezer hosts open house

Douglass HS
Jan. 27, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

HUNTINGTON -- An iconic building in Huntington and the community organizations that are located in it hosted an open house Sunday.

The open house marked the 10-year anniversary of the restoration of the old, all-black Douglass High School building in the 1400 block of 10th Avenue into the Douglass Centre. The event was sponsored by Ebenezer Medical Outreach Inc., which is the only original tenant remaining in the building.

The high school, named for abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, closed in 1961. Its students integrated with Huntington High School. The building was given new life in 2001 when the City of Huntington and Ebenezer Medical Outreach hatched a plan to transform it into a hub for community-based groups.

That plan became reality when Ebenezer Medical Outreach, which offers medical care to those who cannot afford insurance, moved into the building along with the Huntington Housing Authority's youth empowerment program in January 2003.

"When we took on this project, a lot of people didn't think it would happen. I even questioned whether we could do it because of the costs," said Yvonne Jones, executive director of Ebenezer Medical Outreach. "I asked God for direction. It's been a challenge, but it proves that He is faithful."

When the building opened, Ebenezer was composed of a medical clinic, pharmacy, community exercise room and numerous outreach programs. It has since added a dental clinic in the building as well as more outreach programs.

One of those is My Brother's Keeper, which promotes healthy lifestyles for men. Lawrence Walker, a volunteer for My Brother's Keeper, said the Douglass Centre has provided stability for the surrounding Fairfield West community similar to the nearby A.D. Lewis Community Center and Barnett Center.

"We never had anything like this here before," said Walker, a lifelong Fairfield West resident. "A lot of people in Huntington can't get health insurance, so they're very surprised when they find out about Ebenezer."

The organization reaches far beyond Huntington, Jones said. It primarily serves Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Mason and Putnam counties in West Virginia, Boyd and Greenup counties in Kentucky and Lawrence County, Ohio. However, the Ebenezer Board of Directors recently decided that it will not turn away anyone who is eligible for help, Jones said.

Other tenants in the Douglass Centre include the Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action Inc., which offers fatherhood and ex-offender programs; REACH, which stands for Residential Placement, Early Intervention, Aftercare Services, Creation of Vouchers and Housing Development; and SCRATCH, or Sustainable Community Revitalization in Appalachia Through Children's Hands Project. The program teaches children gardening, technology and entrepreneurship.

The Douglass Centre has space available for more tenants. For more information, call Jones at 304-529-0753, ext. 108.

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.

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