Adult education center opens at former Macomber schoolWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Faced with the staggering statistic that 60,000 Lucas County residents over age 25 do not have a high school diploma or equivalent degree, Cherry Street Mission Ministries and Penta Career Center have teamed up to try to lower that number.
Cherry Street Mission, headquartered on 17th Street in Downtown Toledo, purchased the former Macomber High School on Monroe Street in 2013 and has spent the past year readying it to become its new Life Revitalization Center.
Now through a collaboration with Penta Career Center, it offers GED and ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality) services at the location. Classes started Dec. 1 with 15-20 in attendance.
“We know how to transform and stabilize lives, and we know how to stay with them and bring them to the fullness of healing,” said Dan Rogers, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission. “Conversely, we don’t have any idea how to vocationally train, so the partnership of holistically reaching someone under the same roof is key. Every time you move somebody or ask them to move, that creates a barrier. One-roof systems are just key.”
Also in the works is a potential expansion of Toledo Public Schools’ (TPS) adult education programs, the first step in a series of moves the Cherry Street Mission hopes will eventually make Macomber a full-blown residential vocational and career center.
There has also been talk from TPS of a reborn Macomber concept nearby that would bring vocational training back to high school students.
A Dec. 4 ribbon cutting was attended by several local dignitaries, including Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, validating Rogers’ assertion that this new partnership is “a top five economic development story for our region.”
Penta Superintendent Ron Matter believes that with this new affiliation, further adult training coming soon, and a possible new Macomber High School, this particular area is primed for good things.
“What a corridor that could be to have adult options, and to get this up and running with the other programs,” Matter said. “This really could be quite a hub.”
Rogers said the former DeVilbiss High School currently offers adult training and is in early discussions with TPS about those programs potentially moving to the new Macomber site, in an effort to consolidate efforts all under one roof.
Both Cherry Street Mission and Penta expect their efforts will increase access to those who are experiencing homelessness and poverty.
“It’s amazing how things come together with just a conversation,” Matter said. “We struck up a conversation with Dan (Rogers). He explained how he wanted to revitalize Macomber High School and it all fell into place.”
Matter said Cherry Street Mission clients remain their initial priority, but soon they want to open it up to all area residents.
“It’s something that’s very exciting and going to be a big piece of the City of Toledo,” Matter said. “Partnering with Cherry Street to help others lift themselves up, that’s good stuff to be involved with.”
Cherry Street Mission has steadily been making behind-the-scenes renovations to the Macomber property as funds became available. The property has a new parking lot, roof and heating system. Work has also been done in sections of the building, such as the auto shop, to repair their own fleet and practice how things might look if vocational services were to return to the 76-year-old structure that closed its doors to high school students in 1991.
The University of Toledo donated classroom furniture to aid the cause.
“We’re looking for other partners to get on board with us to get these services on the old Macomber site,” Matter said. “It has such a rich tradition at Macomber. It just makes too much sense.”
Founded in 1947, Cherry Street Mission Ministries serves 900 meals a day and provides shelter and programming to more than 250 people every night. It is privately funded and does not receive government funding.
Penta Career Center is a vocational public high school and adult education center in northern Wood County serving 16 school districts in Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa, Sandusky and Wood counties.