The Lawrence Community Center, which has been described as a wonderful hidden gem, is aiming to shine a light on that gem through its first-ever website.
The new website, www.lawrencecommunitycenter.org, was launched Jan. 24. Its goal is to acquaint Lawrence residents with the center at 295 Eggerts Crossing Road – down the street from Central Park and the Lawrence Intermediate School.
The Lawrence Community Center seeks to be a true community center for all Lawrence residents – from Province Line Road in north Lawrence to the Brunswick Circle in south Lawrence – by providing recreational, cultural and educational activities, said Brian Helmuth, the center’s director.
“The website’s main goal is to create one place where community members can see the breadth of what we do,” Helmuth said.
“When someone comes in to meet us, they often leave saying, ‘This is such a wonderful hidden gem.’ We would like to change that phrase to ‘This is such a wonderful gem,'” Helmuth said.
Many people still do not have a clear picture of what the Lawrence Community Center is and what it has to offer, Helmuth said. The website will provide the answers to those questions about the center, which is affiliated with HomeFront and has been in place for more than a decade.
Meanwhile, the website includes an “About Us” section with information on the staff, photos of past events and a short history of the Lawrence Community Center, which was formerly known as the Lawrence Neighborhood Center.
There is a “Community Involvement” page that features a community member spotlight and a place to sign up for the center’s newsletters. There is a link to bring up archived copies of earlier newsletters.
The “Make A Difference” page informs viewers about volunteer opportunities, as well as how to make a donation, Helmuth said. The “Contact Us” page lists the addresses, phone number and general email address and the hours of operation for the community center.
Helmuth said the Lawrence Community Center is a safe, welcoming place where everyone is welcomed to be in the community together. It provides a well-maintained indoor space for programs – from sports teams that need a place to practice in the gym, to artists who provide art classes to the community.
There are book clubs, exercise classes and music classes for children, as well as after-school programs. If residents would like to see specific programs offered at the center, they just need to contact the center, Helmuth said.
“If there is something you want to see at your Lawrence Community Center, please let us know and we will make it happen,” he said.
Helmuth said that as a true community center, it also helps low-income residents. They can visit the food pantry on the first and third Thursday of the month. They can also meet with the full-time case manager.
The case manager can help residents with unpaid rent, utility assistance, employment and resources such as diapers, personal hygiene products, clothing and HomeFront’s back-to-school, Thanksgiving and holiday wish drives.
Of course, COVID-19 affected the programming and use of the Lawrence Community Center building, Helmuth said. The building is closed, but virtual programming is offered in lieu of in-person programs. Post-COVID, residents can let the center know about the programs they want to see, he said.
The center is available to programs or groups of people already in a program – pre-pandemic – and who need indoor space to continue. A group of friends that had been playing basketball outdoors has booked the gym for a couple of hours during the week because it is too cold to play outdoors, he said.
“Our hope for the Lawrence Community Center website is that people learn about our desire to be a resource to them and they leave the website thinking, ‘Wow, our community center cares about me and I am welcome there,'” Helmuth said.