A need within the Northland community that was identified during a series of nonprofit gatherings this past year will be a major focus in 2013.

A need within the Northland community that was identified during a series of nonprofit gatherings this past year will be a major focus in 2013.

Laying the foundation for welcome center for people new to central Ohio and new to the United States, is a priority for Northland Alliance chairwoman Joyce Bourgault.

The concept for the center, which would also provide headquarters space or outposts for nonprofit agencies serving Northland residents, came to the fore in last year's Northland Nonprofit Summits, which Bourgault began convening in May 2011 in an effort to identify missing services and eliminate duplication of effort.

"Services from many different agencies will be joined in one location with the support of businesses, community foundations and local government," Bourgault predicted late last year in looking ahead to goals for 2013. "This is a major undertaking that will take careful planning and input from the community and Nonprofits providing services."

Bourgault indicated that it's her hope the welcome center would open in 2014.

"A communitywide disaster plan will be established this year, with the assistance of HandsOn (Central Ohio) and all related groups such as the police, fire departments, nonprofits, churches, schools and the community," Bourgault also wrote.

This arose at the final Northland Nonprofit Summit of 2012 in November, when HandsOn disaster preparedness coordinator Shaddy N. Swade offered his agency's help in setting up a detailed plan for the neighborhood to better cope with incidents such as an apartment building fire in August that left dozens of families, many of them refugees, homeless.

"Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center with community and church support will be opening a fourth night of clinic each month," according to Bourgault. "We are expanding our wellness program to include seven areas of health. We will be working with many different agencies such as the YMCA, US Together, New Directions Jobs training resources, churches and other groups to expand beyond providing medical care to providing other social services and comprehensive wellness care."

An intensive research project to identify issues facing residents of the Beaumont neighborhood south and east of the Northland Village site, another outgrowth of the nonprofit gatherings, will be completed soon, according to Bourgault, "and the information compiled will lead many businesses and groups to provide services to the community that are needed."

"Grants will be applied for to facilitate growth in Northland for business opportunities and social services," she wrote.

A second annual Northland International Festival will be held in June, two months earlier than the inaugural one in 2012, Bourgault added.

"Northland Park will be expanding with new businesses along Morse Road," she concluded. "Business will continue to grow in the area, especially serving the international community."