COMMUNITY CENTER PRESENTED WITH THE STERLING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Sterling Achievement Award recognized the community center for outstanding contribution in areas of community and economic development. The community center was chosen by the State of Louisiana Office of Community Development Disaster Recovery Unit to nominate for the award over all disaster recovery projects completed in Louisiana and then went on to compete at the national level.
“I am very excited that our parish is receiving the Sterling Achievement Award for the services provided at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center. We have held many events there and we have worked very hard to make our facility available to the public,” said Parish President Larry Cochran. “Our 30,000 square foot building is comprised of several rooms which can accommodate the hosting of meetings, luncheons, receptions, training, conferences, and many other events. We will continue to assess the needs of our community and develop plans for the use of our resources to improve the lives of citizens.”
The Sterling Achievement Award given by the Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) recognizes state programs that have demonstrated, during a sustained period, positive results in improving the lives of lower-income persons in the following program areas:
- Community and Economic Development
- Housing Assistance
- Homelessness Assistance and Prevention
“It was clearly evident that over the past four years, the $12.3 million community center has developed into a highly successful project,” said Darrin Mann, who works in the Division of Administration Office of Community Development-Disaster Recovery Unit. “Fortunately, I was able to accept the award and give a presentation on the center and its impact on the community.”
Mann nominated the Community Center on the Parish’s behalf for the center’s ability to provide a centralized location for critical public services while having a centralized location that allows better coordination with other parish services.
According to the award nomination, the center has transformed and evolved into a multi-use building that benefits the entire parish. The data over the last four years shows the return on the community center investment has far exceeded its intended and proposed usage while increasing revenues to secure sustainability.
“We host so many parish events that encompass all ages and backgrounds. My expectations for the center have far exceeded my goals,” said Anedra Coleman, Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation and Community Center Coordinator. “When the doors first opened, I thought that the community center was going to host a few parish events and serve mainly as the office space for the three departments housed here, but with the numerous requests and events hosted here, we have gotten busier than we ever thought possible.”
The center has a full-time staff at the facility that manages a number of recreational activities and enrichment events. Parish officials, Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) staff and volunteers also help support parish and community related events such as the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Toy and Gift Fund, Veteran’s Day Luncheon, Senior Citizen’s Luncheon and Mardi Gras dance.
Additionally, community members and parish employees have utilized the office space and meeting rooms at the center to host various meetings and events.
“The Edward A. Dufresne Community Center has become the nexus for St. Charles Parish with most of our community events now being held there. The center has become an economic driver with job programs and trainings being held in the meeting room space,” said St. Charles Parish Grants Officer Carla Chiasson. “Facility usage has multiplied since its opening and permanent jobs have been created for parish personnel who work at the center as well as the vendors hired to provide the various services for events.”
Most importantly, the center, which can double as an emergency shelter and distribution point for supplies, was built to withstand 130-mph winds and has a backup generator allowing services to continue during power outages. The center has transformed and evolved into a multi-use building that benefits the entire community.
The parish received a total of $8,235,906 in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing’s Community Development Block Grant Program from Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike, the State of Louisiana’s Local Government Assistance Program and FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program’s Generator Initiative to build the community center. The 30,000 square foot facility, designed by Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, was completed at a total cost of $10.6 million with 71 percent funded by federal grants, meaning that only 29 cents on the dollar was funded by St. Charles Parish. The land the facility was built upon was donated by the late Judge Edward A. Dufresne Jr., and the facility is named after him and his father. The community center was completed in October 2013.
The Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) was created in December 1974 as the Council of State Community Affairs Agencies (COSCAA) by Directors of State Departments of Community Affairs to establish a forum for discussion of and action on national issues of common interest. As a nonprofit organization, COSCDA is a premier national association advocating and enhancing the leadership role of states in community development through innovative policy development and implementation, customer-driven technical assistance, education, and collaborative efforts.
The mission of St. Charles Parish government is to provide high quality, efficient services to sustain and enhance the quality of life for all residents of St. Charles Parish.
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