Cheryl Allen Center evicted; new organization forms


First Posted: 3/13/2015

LIMA — The Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center has been evicted from its building, but a new group hopes to immediately fill the void.

Jean “Emma” Corley said Church Women United, owners of the building at 1802 S. Central Ave., evicted the Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center. It has until Monday to leave the building. Corley said Cheryl Allen hadn’t paid its rent.

“I think it’s probably around $7,000, and that’s a conservative guess,” Cheryl Allen former executive director Vickie Shurelds said. “I don’t have any direct access to the finances, but I do know that it’s been well over a year and a half since any rent’s been paid.”

According to an Internal Revenue Service website, Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center had its tax-exempt status revoked May 15, 2014.

“They have been served with notice to move from premises,” Corley said of the long-financially troubled Cheryl Allen organization. “They’re evicted.”

Cheryl Allen provided commodities distribution, seniors lunches and brunches and after-school enrichment programs. For CWU, the emphasis is now on restoring what services have been lost. Shurelds, who resigned as the Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center executive director effective Wednesday, will continue providing programming in the building under the new group.

“Certainly with the loss of our martial arts program, our dance program and our Friday after-school program, there was a disruption,” Shurelds said. “I’m going to do my best to have things back in place within the next two weeks.”

A new “viable” organization will form to provide community outreach in the building, Corley said. The issue is dear to Corley’s heart, she said, because she has both volunteered and received services from the center over the years. The new organization, which won’t owe Cheryl Allen’s back rent, has been passing out flyers to concerned citizens and hopes to draw board members from the police department, city council and local legal community.

“One of the things that we’ve really been missing is a board of people who have connections within the community that can bring to us support, not just monetary, but even the support and credibility that is needed to sustain what we’re trying to do and move forward,” Shurelds said.

The new group’s first meeting is 6:30 p.m. Monday at the building. Corley invited interested members in the Lima community to help build a better organization to help. People can email Corley at corleyemma@aol.com for more information or visit the building five days a week.

“When the board is formed for this new entity, it will do what a board is supposed to do,” Corley said. “That is justify any faith any contributor has in its ability to serve the community.”

The history of the center dates to 1912, when it opened as Mizpah Community Center. In the 1980s, it came under the umbrella of the Allen County Council of Minoritiy Agencies.

In 1984, Lutheran Social Services, headed by Cheryl Allen, moved to the current location. When Allen died July 1, 1987, the center was renamed the Cheryl Allen Center. Over the years, the center has been close to closure several times because of financial problems, only to have the community rally to keep it open.

Corley said the new group hopes to use the old Mizpah name but has to research its availabilty first.

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