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Community Place CEO: “Our work has just begun”

By Staff


cooperThe Community Place of Greater Rochester is currently celebrating 15 years of serving the Northeast side of Rochester, under its current name, even though the group has actually been around for over 100 years. And, according to Community Place CEO Rodric Cox-Cooper, the non-profit agency’s work has only just begun.

“Even though this organization is 15 years old, under its current name, what should be noted is that this organization, which is the Community Place of Greater Rochester, was created in 2001,” Cox-Cooper stated. “But, it was the result of a merger of three organizations that have served Rochester going back over 100 years. The Lewis St. Center, Genesee Settlement House, and Eastside Community Center merged in 2001. Lewis Street center, by itself, that was the longest service of the groups. Lewis Street goes back to 1907.”

Cox-Cooper said the Community Place currently serves the Northeast side of Rochester through a wide range of social, developmental, and educational programs, and the organization largely focuses on residents living in the 14621, 14605, and 14609 areas of the city.

The group’s services include providing support for young people with learning and developmental disabilities; helping families meet basic needs like health, wellness, and education; and providing aging services programs to older and senior adults throughout Monroe and Livingston Counties.

“We provide services for every member of the family,” Cox-Cooper stated. “And our focus area, and largely our focus, is the northeast part of Rochester.”

Cox-Cooper was named CEO of the organization in February, and had previously been the CEO of Wilson Commencement Park, a human services non-profit agency that helps low-income, single-parent families transition from public assistance to financial independence and personal self-sufficiency.

And, according to Cox-Cooper, the Community Place holds a legacy of service he is honored to help continue.

“I just began in this role, in February of 2016,” he stated. “So, I’m just about at three months. My goals are to improve the service of our programs, and the quality of our programs, and to make sure that we are partnering and collaborating with like organizations across Rochester. Those organizations that are making a difference for low-income families across Rochester; we are looking to partner with them to really move Rochester forward. In 2015, we joined two other settlement houses, the Charles Settlement House, and Baden Street Settlement, to form what’s called the Settlement Houses of Rochester Foundation. And, the whole rationale behind this effort was to join forces with other settlement houses, and other like organizations, to jointly raise operating funds to assist each other, so that we could continue to do the work, all across Rochester.”

However, according to Cox-Cooper, the challenge has been that, although the Community Place’s efforts to help families in crisis has dated back over 100 years, the problems themselves have seemed to be changing.

“I think that one of the great challenges in Rochester right now is that, in the neighborhoods that we serve, the challenge isn’t only economic,” he stated. “The challenge – it is also social. The challenge, it is public safety. There are also mental health issues. There are so many greater challenges now, than what we saw in years past. That is where we have to put our focus. We have youth that are graduating from the city school district, and don’t have marketable skills. So, these are the critical challenges that we face today. And, I would say the deep poverty that we see in the northeast, is something that’s continued to prove to be a great challenge.”

Two important offerings the Community Place provides in order to combat these issues include food pantry services for families in need, and high school equivalency programs for youth who are seeking high school diplomas, Cox-Cooper stated.

“We do operate two food pantries,” he said. “So, for instance, if there is a family in crisis, that is in need of food, our location can be of service to them. Other services are more program-related. We have disability services; high school equivalency programs; and universal Pre-K. We also have food distribution several times a month.”

Cox-Cooper said the organization’s senior center, located at 145 Parsells Ave., is also another important service the group provides.

“We also have a senior center, where our seniors can go for exercise programs, computer classes, and arts and crafts,” he stated.

The Community Place recently held its “Art of Giving” fundraiser in April, according to Cox-Cooper, and the organization will hold several smaller events throughout the year, as it continues to celebrate its 15-year anniversary, and its 100-year legacy, in Rochester.

“We recently held our ‘Art of Giving’ event, that was part of the celebration,” he stated. “And we will be having other small events through the year, including our annual golf tournament, in August.”

However, Cox-Cooper said the group’s greatest accomplishment, to date, has been increasing the number of residents the Community Place serves, while still focusing on the needs of each individual.

“In terms of our greatest accomplishment, I think it’s increasing the number of people that we service,” he stated. “Now, we serve about 9,000 people, annually. But, it’s also staying focused on meeting the needs of each individual that comes to us. That is part of our 100-year legacy.”

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