The CRC is on a roll.
The celebration for the total renovation of the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center Family Services building on West Lakeview Avenue took place July 24, at the same time one of the settlement house's vans was getting an eye-popping new paint job.
As supporters gathered for the rededication of the building that for years had been the CRC's headquarters, famous Pakistani truck painter Haider Ali was transforming one of the organization's vehicles with symbols that, he said, send a message of "peace and love."
This is the second vehicle Ali has painted for the community resources center. The first was a car he worked on over Labor Day weekend when the artist, who carries on a tradition in Pakistan of customizing trucks, was in Columbus for the Hot Times Community Music and Arts Festival in Olde Towne East.
That vehicle, which is used to transport senior citizens to medical appointments, is now called the "Heal Mobile."
"It was just by coincidence," CRC Development Director Katie Palmer said of Ali's second contribution to a more colorful fleet. "He just happened to be in town."
"He just does really gorgeous work," said Bill Owens, the CRC's executive director.
The main event for the day was the unveiling of the transformed Family Services building, which underwent a renovation project starting in March that largely was funded by $79,000 in grant money from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, the Columbus Foundation and Medical Mutual. The once-cramped and somewhat gloomy space was dramatically altered with brighter colors and the uncovering of large windows on the west side of the structure.
"It's great that it's all open now," Owens said before the formal ceremony.
"The room with all this light looks so hopeful," said Beth Stewart-McGee, family services director. "How can people not be transformed?"
"It makes it a bright, open space, to say the least," said state Rep. Jim Hughes (R-Upper Arlington).
For his part, state Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) called the reworked interior "truly an amazing facility."
"Because he cared in 1929, this building was built by a local grocery store owner as one of the first four branch libraries in Columbus," Owens said during his formal remarks. "He rented it to the city of Columbus for five years and then gave it to the city. Until the 1960s, it served as a library, and then was rented to various businesses and groups, including an accountant office, a day care and lastly a mime troupe, until CRC bought the building for $1 in 1981.
"This was accomplished through a man I never met named Phillip Jastram."
The building was the headquarters of the settlement house until 2014 when CRC purchased the building at 3222 N. High St., converting the old structure into a food pantry and the Family Services building.
"So this building has witnessed thousands of people seeking and providing help, including millions of pounds of food, many thousands of rides to the doctor or the grocery store, seniors' homes repaired, holiday gifts distributed, children supervised and helped to grow up safely in their own neighborhood, leaves raked for seniors, clothing, household items, refrigerators, stoves, furniture, toys given away," Owens said. "We even had an organ donation once, the kind you play music with -- all because people cared about their neighbors and wanted to help.
"Today, we rededicate this building to the care of our neighbors."