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Community center renovations well underway

November 24, 2018

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) — The Olson Community Engagement Center plans are inching closer to reality.

When it is all said and done, the center will house six organizations: the Fremont Area United Way, Rebuilding Together, Fremont Family Coalition, Sixpence, Volunteer Connection and the Metropolitan Community College Employability Academy Center.

Although the work begun in October is yet to be completed, that hasn’t stopped the organizations that will call it home from already finding ways to do what the Olson Community Engagement Center ventures to do: create collaboration between organizations in order to improve outcomes for the people they serve.

“Every piece of every partner that is going to be officed in here would not have happened without partnerships, relationships, trust, collaboration for the bigger outcome and the common agenda of serving those in our community,” Shawn Shanahan, Fremont Area United Way executive director, said at the unveiling in June. “This will allow community nonprofit partners to come together in one space and truly move the needle from birth to keeping the elderly in their homes.”

The renovations are being completed in two phases, with the first phase including portions of the east side of the building that will house Sixpence and Metropolitan Community College.

Shanahan told the Fremont Tribune that those renovations are planned to be completed by the end of the year. Currently, windows and drywall are being put in after several walls were torn down to create a large room that will house Sixpence’s Family Engagement Center.

“We serve children that are considered at risk in the community, prenatally until the time they turn 3 years old and we transition them into a preschool,” Sixpence director Lauren Stoklasa said. “So our big goal is getting kids ready for preschool by the time they turn 3 and to help their families connect with other resources in the community and also help them get ready for that school setting.”

Sixpence now is housed in the Fremont Public Schools Administration Building.

“We are still there currently — we have boxes sitting and waiting to go — but we’ve made due,” Stoklasa said. “We know that it’s going to be well worth the wait, and we are superexcited to come here and have that positive environment for all the kids.”

While MCC hasn’t been able to move into its new space yet either, according to career skills coach Angela Baker, the partnership and collaboration afforded by being housed in the Olson Community Engagement Center have already made an impact.

“Having a space here is something that is new to Metro and it is really exciting because Shawn and our other agency partners have already initiated a partnership for a career placement program here in the Fremont area,” she said. “We had our first pilot program earlier this month and it has blown all expectation away - there was just an outpouring of support from agency partners and local business partners.”

Stoklasa shared that excitement, saying that working alongside the other Olson Community Engagement Center agencies will help them all further their outcomes within the community.

“Before you might have all of the people working in early childhood development in one area and all people who work with the aging population in another, but when you put all of those minds together they are going to come up with some great ideas to help the community as a whole,” she said.

The second phase of renovation will begin once the first phase is complete and Sixpence and MCC officially move in. Shanahan said the hope is to have those renovations completed by spring 2019.

Shanahan said the renovations have had a minimal impact on the families served by United Way and the other organizations that currently call the building home, because that area of the building was unused before creation of the Olson Community Engagement Center.

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Information from: Fremont Tribune, http://www.fremontneb.com

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