Lance Jackson & Teresa Hill, who were both teachers in the Urbana City School district for decades, serve as official program advisors. They both keenly understand the challenges local students face.
UYC knows students at the youth center are incredibly fortunate to have the experience of two of Urbana’s very best educators working on crafting programs for them. Their expertise is a major asset to the youth center and this community.
Including official advisors and volunteer advisors, the entire program team brings more than a century of combined education and program experience to the table.
Justin T. Weller leads the team at the youth center as the Executive Director.
Now that the youth center serves more than 400 student members and is working to expand their program offerings, it is essential UYC builds a sustainable approach to serving the needs of our young people. These new team members are working to make some big and exciting things possible.
Information from UYC's Facebook page.
The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce is taking nominations until September 15th in 25 categories ranging from best coffee shop to best employer.
In order to be nominated, the business or organization must be within the limits of Champaign County. Official voting for the Best of Champaign County will be September 16th-October 22nd, after all nominations have been submitted. Voters are asked to donate $1 per vote to the Chamber of Commerce, so that it can continue to carry out its mission to connect Champaign County by promoting members and inspiring collaboration by offering resources and opportunities to enhance our community. Nominations and ballots will be accepted online, by mail, email or in person at the Chamber of Commerce located at 127 W. Court St. in Urbana.
Chamber Director, Sara Neer, explains, “We started the Best of Champaign County contest and fundraiser as a response to our events being cancelled due to the pandemic. The response from the community and our members was very positive and many asked us if we would continue to do it annually, so here we are. This is a great way to educate the community on the many great businesses and organizations that not only provide services to our county, but also are the first to sponsor, volunteer and give back.”
The Best of Champaign County winners will be recognized at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner on October 28th, on various social media platforms and on the Chamber’s website. Submit your nominations below!
Local businesses champion children
Bundy Baking Solutions and Rittal collectively contributed $43,000 to the Urbana Youth Center to aid in funding the programming lineup for 2021.
Now, other local businesses have decided to join the effort.
Orbis Corporation, IGS Energy, Sellman Insurance Group, Mad River Air, the Urbana Walmart, Martin Insurance Agency, Weidmann Electrical, Squared Construction, Howell Buildings Company, Erin Patton Insurance Agency and others make up a growing group of local businesses working to fund the efforts of UYC.
The Caring Kitchen, Bridges Community Action Partnership and Mercy Health – Urbana Hospital are finding valuable ways to support UYC by enabling the nutrition program – providing more than 2,000 meals to local children so far.
Building on the investment of local businesses, the faith community in the Urbana area is also a strong supporter of UYC’s efforts. River of Life Christian Center, Urbana United Methodist Church, Renewed Strength and the First Presbyterian Church are all actively working to assist the youth center. The support comes in many forms including monetary contributions, in-kind investments and volunteers.
Numerous families, individuals and foundations have also contributed. Many prefer to remain anonymous, although several prominent contributors include the McDavid Foundation, the Michael Family, the Phyllis & Will Ernst Family and the Richardson Family, among others.
“We are seeing this community rally behind the essential work taking place at UYC,” Weller explained. “These investments across industry, faith and family prove the will to secure the future of our young people not only is present in our community but undeniably strong.”
According to Weller, the youth center is working hard to raise the money it needs to fund programming for the rest of 2021 and into 2022. UYC will more than double the program lineup this fall to serve its 415 student members.
“Our Champions for Children campaign is currently under way and our students need your help. We’ve got a diverse range of new programs including essential life skills, drama, a music exploration program, a faith exploration program, mentoring, sports, yoga, arts and crafts and more. Providing these new programs in addition to our standing lineup of homework and study assistance, nutrition, career readiness, hygiene and hangout spaces, requires a substantial ongoing investment,” Weller said.
For community members who feel driven to help, there are two main ways the youth center can be supported.
“First and foremost, we need you to invest in this effort monetarily. There are no two ways about it. Serving 415 student members and providing them with 15 plus unique programs is a major financial undertaking. We get donations from $50 to $50,000 and every amount makes a difference. Please, donate now,” Weller implored.
Judy Richardson, Assistant Director at UYC, shared the critical need for volunteers.
“Whether you have a few hours a week or just an hour a month and whether your interest is in working directly with students or pitching in behind the scenes, your help is needed today,” Richardson said. “We cannot do this alone. We need people to work with students, sweep floors, make food, help maintain the building and countless other essential tasks. To enrich the lives of our students, each of us must step up.”
Weller and Richardson explained that donating and volunteering are simple. Interested individuals may go to UrbanaYouthCenter.org or send a check to 160 West Market Street, Urbana, OH 43078. Alternatively, people can call or text 937-772-4022 to speak with a team member about donating or volunteering.
“The good news is this community has proven its commitment to the dream of a youth center. To fully realize that dream, each of us must dig deep and figure out how we can help make sure this effort succeeds for years to come. With the continued support of these great local organizations and the investment of individuals across the area, I know we can help these students,” Weller said.
“The Chamber is looking forward to returning to an in-person event this year and to celebrate the business community and our members after what has been a very trying year for everyone. We want to make this a celebration and a coming together of our members and the whole community in what will be a fun and entertaining evening”, says Executive Director, Sara Neer.
The cost to attend the event is $50 per person, $95 per couple, and $360 for a table of 8. Reservations may be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 937-653-5764.
Nominations for Awards Being Accepted Through September 30th
The Champaign County Chamber is also accepting nominations through September 30th for the annual Simon Volunteer of the Year Award, which will be presented during the Annual Meeting. The Simon Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to a person or organization that has significantly contributed to improving the quality of life of Champaign County. The nomination form can be found here. Forms also may be obtained by calling 937-653-5764 or emailing email@example.com.
She’s passionate about the work the CEP does and believes that a partnership between businesses and government is the best way to help local businesses grow.
“What we really pride ourselves on here is being able to act as liaisons between government and business,” said Bailey. “Being a resource that can join those kinds of entities together and look at the bigger view is important.”
She believes that when businesses and government work together, it’s a recipe for growth for the whole community.
“There’s not a silver bullet to any one particular way that’s better than not, but I think for us and our community, it needs to be that collaborative partnership with public and private.”
Bailey has been with the CEP since its inception seven years ago following a discussion with Pioneer Rural Electric Co-op, the Champaign County Commissioners and the city of Urbana.
“I was able to get the office up and running, hire a staff person, get the CEP board created and organized, create the CEPohio.com website and the newest addition ChampaignWorks.com. The first big accomplishment was making this economic development agency a reality,” she said. “It’s through the support of the county commissioners, city of Urbana, villages of St. Paris, North Lewisburg and Mechanicsburg, and then private industry, helping to support this agency as a whole.”
Some of the projects Bailey has worked on include the clean-up, new ownership and redevelopment of the former Q3 building on Miami St., bringing the Cobblestone Hotel to Urbana under local ownership, Advanced Technology Products expansion to Mechanicsburg and the Sutphen Corporation announcement to consolidate three facilities into a new building in Urbana.
She was also instrumental in implementing a housing survey that she hopes will convince developers there’s a need for more housing in Champaign County.
The Legacy Place project (North and South elementary buildings and Douglas Hotel) are examples of housing redevelopment of landmark buildings in the community.
In addition to bringing new businesses and talent to the area, Bailey has worked to expand existing businesses, adding more jobs to the area and acted as a liaison to help existing businesses serve the local community in new ways.
Bailey was also instrumental in the creation of the Champaign County Manufacturers Council and the addition of a CEP Business Liaison that connects local students to the businesses through career exploration, internships and paid employment.
She hopes that the person who is hired to replace her will bring his/ her own ideas about how to help Champaign County grow and their enthusiasm and knowledge for existing projects like the redevelopment of Urbana University’s campus.
Overall, Bailey leaves behind a legacy of hope, perseverance and the belief that neighbors should look out for one another and help each other to grow.
“I’m so appreciative that I’ve been given the opportunity to put this all together and be the first director of this agency,” she said. “I’ve had so many opportunities to meet so many people, sit down with them and learn about their businesses in Champaign County, their products, their international commerce and the skills needed by their workforce.
“I’m also extremely grateful to the CEP Board members and the investors for their continued support of me and the agency, I will miss everyone immensely,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s colleagues on the CEP board know that her shoes will be tough to fill.
“Marcia has done an immense amount of work. She’s worked tirelessly to get this thing up and running,” said CEP Board President Kyle Hall. “We’re really going to miss having her here. She’s done a great job.”
He doesn’t believe anyone can truly replace Bailey, but he hopes that the next Director of the CEP will continue to respond to the business community’s needs and that he/ she will work to find solutions for the area’s need for housing.
CEP board member Dave Snyder said that Marcia has been instrumental in bringing together public and private entities. “She’s done a good job of bringing entities together like counties, townships, villages and the private sector with new and existing businesses,” Snyder said.
He expects that finding the right person to take over as director of the CEP will be a difficult task.
“It’s going to be hard to find somebody with her skill set and her personality,” he said. “We’re not going to try to recreate her, but we’re going to try to find someone with those skills.”