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Memories of Westfield’s Community Center — is it time again?

BeeLines

March 27, 2013
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian (westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net) , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Recently, a Health and Wellness Fair held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church for the local community suggested to me perhaps it is time, once again, to form another Community Center - one central location for dissemination of information about our many local social service resources.

It could include the Westfield Community Kitchen as well as weekly blood pressure readings by local nurses, and also be a gathering place for seniors and teens.

You may recall from BeeLines of Oct. 11, 2010, the discovery that Westfield did have a Community Center at 3 East Main Street between 1967 and at least 1973. This is where Beth's Parkview Caf is now located, and, in 2010, was the Parkview Ice Cream Parlor and the Westfield Historian Office.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This picture from about 1975 shows the Community Center at 3 East Main Street in Westfield.

Clara Trump wrote in "History of Westfield - 1812-1997, Part II - 1952-1977" the overall project was discontinued and closed in 1976, although various programs had "petered out" earlier such as the Food Co-op in 1975.

A headline in the Westfield Republican of Jan. 17, 1968, "New Employee Added to Family Service Center," noted the Family Center had recently been established at Eason Hall. Going back to Dec. 13, 1967 the first story was found - "New Family Center To Serve Four Town Area." The Westfield Family Center was established through cooperation between the Village of Westfield, Town of Chautauqua, Federal Office of Economic Opportunities funds and County assistance. It was to serve Westfield, and the towns of Chautauqua, Ripley and Portland. In 1971, the name was expanded to Rural Multi-Purpose Family Center.

In 1973, the OEO federal funds were being used up, so the Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc., county funding became the major source to keep the Westfield Community Center, then located at 3 East Main Street, in operation. That year, plans were underway to combine the community services with the Teen Center operating out of the Presbyterian Church.

Fact Box

The office of the Westfield Historian is located at 117 Union St., in the small green building on the north side of driveway. Office hours are by appointment; call or email a request. The Westfield Historian phone number is 326-2457 and email address is westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net.

A "Five Year Report From The Community Center" was published in the May 2, 1973, issue, page 1. This long article published the entire report presented by Donald Carlton, Center Administrator, which lists and described the many programs provided by the center over those five years. These included: transportation; assisting social services; rentals; counseling; pantry shelf; transient fund; Spanish social club; employment; health referrals; outreach; youth program; high school equivalency program; credit and consumer program; clothing and furniture dispersement; farmers home administration; homemaker programs; library depository; senior citizens; dollar stretchers; Meals on Wheels; golden agers; tax relief; children's activities including day care and rural child development program plus an annual Christmas party with gifts and Santa; Westfield Food Co-op; teen groups; and housing.

Another community help program was started in the fall of 1967 - Literacy Volunteers of Westfield - as a branch of Literacy Volunteers, Inc., in Syracuse, N.Y. The purpose was to teach adults to read and write, but it had expanded to include teenagers and non-English speaking people as students by 1971. A couple of years later, the Westfield program folded as leadership died or moved on, but the legacy lives on in Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County in Dunkirk, for which the Westfield group provided its first training seminar.

Chautauqua County has quite a number of social services, organizations and publications such as Chautauqua County Office for the Aging in Mayville, Family Service of the Chautauqua Region, Inc., in Jamestown and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, "Serving the critical needs of Chautauqua County."

Having a well-identified, easily accessed, local central location type of community center providing service volunteers, information services, guidance, counseling of all sorts, booklets, notices of upcoming events and a gathering place for food, sharing information, learning, socializing and so forth could be a wonderful asset for our age challenged, economically challenged, health challenged and educationally challenged community family.

Share feedback, suggestions, ideas and so forth with Westfield Historian, Marybelle Beigh. Thanks.

 
 

 

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