JACKSON CENTER — It has been noted that the only constant is change, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the village of Jackson Center. This growing community has seen a lot of changes in the past several years including continuing growth and expansion in local industry, creation of a new city park and soccer complex, construction of a new school building, vast improvements in the infrastructure and several new professional services and businesses.
With so much going on it’s easy to overlook one tree in a forest of opportunity; such is the case with the Family Life Center located at 310 E. Davis St.
The Family Life Center is a community outreach ministry of the Jackson Center United Methodist Church. Located in the former location of the long-time family-owned and -operated Leininger Lumber store, it offers a wide array of opportunities for village residents, as well as others living in the area.
The Rev. Rob Ulmer, pastor of United Methodist Church, is hoping to get the word out about the Life Center, noting that since its inception, the goal has been to bring people together and provide a clean, versatile facility for church and family gatherings, as well a meeting place for local civic and business affairs.
“From the very beginning, our vision was to create a community-friendly atmosphere. The Life Center is not just for the members of our church but rather a place for all to use and enjoy. Our former pastor, Sylvia Hull, saw an opportunity to use the building for a food pantry to help the less fortunate in Jackson Center. With the help of our church members and a lot of other folks, it became a reality when the Fish Pond Food Pantry was opened. Multiple churches, our school and local citizens donated food and money to make the pantry a reality, and Sylvia’s vision continues to grow; we are following in her footsteps to keep the ball rolling,” Ulmer said.
After the food pantry was up and running, it was noted that there was a lot of extra space not being used — space that could be renovated and used for a fellowship hall. Though the building was donated, it took a lot of time, money and labor to renovate it and bring it up to code and get it ready for public use.
Local businesses chipped in to buy the needed lumber and building supplies and all the labor was provided by volunteers.
“It was a matter of a great group of people working together to get the job done,” said Ulmer. “The finished hall features clean restrooms, seating and tables for a little over 100 people and is equipped with a large kitchen area to prepare and serve food. The hall is available at no cost for local nonprofits, so a lot of local churches use the facility for meals, game nights and prayer meetings.
“It is also a great place for family reunions, birthday and anniversary parties and even business meetings. In addition to the fellowship hall, the building also has a scaled-down gymnasium and basketball court with a hardwood floor,” he said.
Hall rental is $125 per day or $175 with the gym included; for-profit organizations can rent the hall for $275 per day or $300 with the gym. Local manufacturers like “Airstream and Plastipak find it very convenient, in terms of location, and use our facility on a regular basis.” Ulmer said
Adjacent to the gym is an exercise room with a variety of equipment for working out.
“We promote physical fitness and an exercise room membership is available to the public at $30 for three months, making it very affordable,” Ulmer said. “We currently have about 15 people signed up to use the exercise room, which is separate from the hall and gymnasium and fellowship hall.”
Ulmer suggested anyone who may be interested can stop by and examine the facility.
“A lot of folks are pleasantly surprised by what they see and what our hall has to offer. It’s a nice, clean place, easy to get to and has ample parking,” said Ulmer. “Again I want to emphasize this facility is available to anyone and everyone. We are constantly looking for ways to connect with others in our local community and outside the village as well.”
Hall rental agreements and regulations for using the gymnasium and exercise room are available at the United Methodist Church office, 202 E. Pike St., Jackson Center. For information about the hall, call 937-596-6919. Office hours are Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. The Fish Pond Food Pantry is open to residents of Jackson Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.