CLC donation

Mike Rowe, of J.O. Mory, donates a $5,000 check to the Community Learning Center in Kendallville. “This is another example of how a committed group of individuals are making a difference in our community,” said Julia Tipton, CLC director.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

For many years, this quote, by Margaret Mead, has appeared below my signature in email correspondence. These words have been the foundation for the work I do.

I have a fundamental belief in the power of committed citizens, and now, more than ever, these words exemplify my work on a day-to-day basis.

I began working as the executive director of the Community Learning Center the second week in June. Because of a thoughtful, committed group of citizens, the building is unfolding into a center for nonprofits, community activities, and most importantly, a center for skilled learning. The newly-adopted mission statement of the CLC, written and approved by the board, sums up the center’s purpose within our larger community:

Connecting Communities, Strengthening Lives, Securing Futures

My 36 years in public education have taught me that schools hold very special memories for people, and while conducting tours of the CLC, I often hear ... ”this is where my locker was” or “this is where the science room was.”

Re-purposing this building into something relevant and different, while preserving the precious memories of the past, has been a very rewarding venture.

Because this is a community project, Tim Holcomb has been intentional about using local businesses to help transform the building. Diehm Construction, Curb Appeal, J.O. Mory, Simplex, Big C Lumber, Kendall Electric and Wible Lumber are a few of the local businesses who are working to create an atmosphere that is collaborative, safe and friendly. Volunteers from the community have also worked hard to prepare the building for construction.

Our board consists of thoughtful, committed individuals who endeavor to make our community a better place to live each and every day. The board consists of: Ann Linson from East Noble School Corporation, Mayor Suzanne Handshoe from the City of Kendallville, Gary Adkins of Parkview Noble, Casey Weimer from Cole Center YMCA, Jim Pankop of the Kendallville Park Department, Candice Holbrook from Oak Farm Montessori School and Tom Leedy of the Dekko Foundation. These dedicated board members are led by Robert Probst, president.

We are writing the policy that will guide the programming within the walls of this building, which will house collaborative office spaces and classroom learning spaces for all ages. A large community room, a teaching and learning kitchen, the gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium and reception room will also be unique spaces for families, community groups, corporate training, and, of course, entertainment.

I am often asked when the building will be ready for use. We are working to ready the building for the All High School Reunion tour on Saturday, Sept. 21. Our hope is that dedicated programming will begin in October.

I am so excited about the future of this building. I constantly remind myself that without this committed group of citizens, the story of this building might be quite different. Instead of an ending, we now have an exciting beginning.

Julia Tipton is director of the Community Learning Center on the corner of Diamond and Riley streets in Kendallville. Contact her at or 318-3248.

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