For more than 70 years, the Columbus Community Center on Steam Mill Road has been
synonymous with children. It’s perhaps most known for its once robust after-school program.
Davita Bynam is a board member and the acting director.
“We hosted over 100 children a day over 30,000 children have come through this center over the years,” said Davita Bynam, board member and Columbus Community Center acting director.
Bynam ran the center for 22 years but retired in 2015. She says financial woes followed, ushering in an era that saw the Columbus Community Center fighting for its very survival as grant opportunities were lost and other funding sources dried up. The center began to rise from the proverbial ashes in 2019. They had a new board of directors. New volunteers. Bynam returned. Things started to look hopeful. Then the momentum was stolen by a pandemic.
“And just before COVID we had a good summer camp and then we had an after-school program and then in March due to COVID, we had to close everything down,” said Bynam.
Now the new band of volunteers is singing a more orchestrated tune, one they hope parents will want to hear. The center missed out on the first semester of school, but now they’re ready to accept children for virtual learning and after-school activities.
“We’re starting as soon as we get the children,” said Bynam.
As for money, the center’s new board of directors is hoping the community will help. One of the group’s fundraisers combines a get out and vote effort with raising funds. Board member and army veteran Ron Akers wrote “The Voter’s Creed.” The community center is selling t-shirts in several colors with the words “I Will Vote” on the front and excerpts from the Voter’s Creed on the back.
“What inspired me to write the Voter’s Creed is because I spent 30 years in the military. In the military they have what’s called the Soldier’s Creed. The Soldier’s Creed speaks to the individual responsibility that that soldier has in completing successful missions. We fight as a team but it’s the individual effort that makes the mission successful. So I took that premise and I said well, it there is a Soldier’s Creed then there should also be a Voter’s Creed. So with that mind frame, I wrote the Voter’s Creed and I wrote it in February 2020. I liked it so I sent it to the U.S. Copyright Office and it is now a copyrighted literary work,” said Ron Akers, Columbus Community Center board member and retired military.
Why the civics lesson attached to the fundraiser? Akers is passionate about voting.
“You’ve done your job in registering them to vote, but now you have to do your real job and go vote. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to go out, buy this shirt, wear it publicly so that you can show the public that I will vote. It’s my job. It’s my responsibility and I will execute it without fail,” says Akers.
To purchase a T-shirt to help the Columbus Community Center, you can text Ron Akers at (706) 566-3183.
The Columbus Community Center is located at 3952 Steam Mill Road. Its current location was donated by AFLAC founder John Amos and his wife Elena in 1986. The center moved from 5th Avenue to 10th Street before finding its permanent home on Steam Mill. The program was founded in 1946.
To register your child for virtual learning or the after-school program, you can call the Columbus Community Center at (706) 685-0553.
Virtual learning is from 7:30 a.m. The cost is $85 per week. The after-school program ends at 6 p.m. That cost is $35 per week. Kids will be picked up from school and dropped off at the center for tutoring and homework help.
The Columbus Community Center is also available as an events venue rental. COVID-19 protocols are in place.