'Essential Hub': Storm Displaces Nonprofit Service Provider

The community nonprofit is seeking a temporary place to operate since the New Year’s Eve storm damaged its building.

Community Center
The winter storms damaged the I.T. Bookman Community Center, displacing its programs. | Anne Marie Kristoff/Ingleside Light
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Services at the I.T. Bookman Community Center have been relocated or done on Zoom since flooding during the Dec. 31 rainstorm caused extensive damage to the building, making it unsafe for staff and clients.

In the meantime, the Lakeview Wellness Hub is temporarily closed, and the center’s Winter Jam Series, a community social event with live music, had to be relocated to the Geneva Powerhouse.

Felisia Thibodeaux, executive director of the nonprofit Southwest Community Corporation which operates out of the center, said walls and flooring need to be repaired.

“We’ve been in this community for 38 years, and we intend to dig deep and continue providing services to this community that really lacks a lot of nonprofit services necessary for communities to thrive and help our community overcome barriers,” Thibodeaux said. “We are an essential hub providing much needed services to the entire community.”

Thibodeaux said they are looking to open a temporary location, possibly on Ocean Avenue.

“We just suspended our programming for in-person,” Thibodeaux said. “We’re utilizing the offices and my reason to find space for my program manager so that we can start to prepare for the necessary rehab that has to happen.”

The center has provided the community with more than just recreation. It offers meals, fitness classes and educational workshops.

Its wellness hub, under Thibodeaux’s leadership, made headlines for the number of Covid-19 vaccination completions and other pandemic-related services it offered.

“We’re definitely not trying to leave the community because our 400 plus seniors that we serve in any given year rely heavily on our access to nutrition, our recreation and our wellness services,” Thibodeaux said.

The Southwest Community Corporation is accepting donations on its website.

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