The Padua Center began in October 2006 in the recently vacated rectory of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. Immediately the Center developed a tutoring program and by summer a community garden, five summer camps and a neighborhood survey, with the expertise of a Qualitative Research Class from the University of Toledo were completed.
The Center was transfer from Diocesan sponsor to St. Martin de Porres parish in July 2008 when Sr. Virginia Welsh, Director, became Pastoral Leader of the parish.
In addition to the tutoring and seven summer camps, we have garden, a small flock of chickens for educational purposes, and an ‘Edible, Playable, Fitness Ground.’ The Padua Possibilities program is a recognized alternative to suspension for children from grades K-6. “Emerging Young Ladies” has been providing guidance and activities for girls from grades 5-8 for four years.
The Padua Center has a focus on environmental education and has recently installed a system of rain barrels to recapture rain water from the roof of St. Anthony of Padua Church. During the summer of 2011, a Vertical Hydroponic Garden was installed. This garden was re-installed in a new location this past summer, 2012.
Through a partnership with the University of Toledo, Judith Herb College of Education, we have written and received several grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development for neighborhood organizing. The goal of the organizing is to surface local leadership, create some community identity, improve safety through the acquisition of new lights, and possibly pedestrian lighting. This initiative, entitled “Brighten Up,” has been an exciting addition to our summer programming. During 2011, a “Name the Neighborhood” contest led to the re-naming of this area as Kwanzaa Park.
Daily hospitality and ‘door’ ministry continues.
Population served: The Padua Center serves a one square mile area in Central Toledo. Using the Federal Poverty Guidelines standard, the census tract in which the majority of the Padua Center area is located has a poverty rate is 35.1%. Households below this rate are 57.2%. At the local public school 99% of the children qualify free or reduced lunch.
Young children who are growing up in this neighborhood need to have a place that is safe, adults who care, and activities that empower them to be the best they can be. The Padua Center wants to be that place and provide such support.