The Comstock Community Center began as a youth center in the mid 1960s through the efforts of Comstock United Methodist Church. The program was housed in a dry-cleaning building on River Street and was called “The Fish”. Volunteers operated and supervised activities, educational and community service programs.
In 1969, The Fish became a non-profit corporation and changed its name to Comstock Community Center. Agencies began offering services to families in Comstock through the Center including Health Department Well Child and Public Health Services, Family & Children Services, and Head Start. As programs grew the building became more dilapidated and it was apparent different facilities were needed. People that played a significant role in these early days were Reverend Wilbur Courter; Township Supervisor, Robert Morris; Center Director, Marjorie Dunham; Center Architect, Norm Hamann, Center Board President Leon Sparks, and Reverend Wilbur’s Wife, Charlotte Courter.
The original Fish, was present on the walls in the first building on River St.
A recreation of the original Community Center’s sign. It was eventually lost during the burning of the center in 1973 after the building was condemned for being toxic. The original logo resembles a “bio hazard” symbol.
Part of the sign’s text has been lost due to image quality and no written record of the wording. It is believed to be the mission statement.
The Comstock Community Center in the summer of 1971. Located on River street originally, then moved to King Highway in the coming years
In 1970, Comstock Township applied for a Neighborhood Facilities Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant of $156,133 was approved and construction of the Center was completed at 6330 King Highway in 1973. The property was deeded to the Township by the Sisters of St. Joseph for the purpose of building the Center. Local philanthropist, Dorothy Dalton, provided a large portion of the local match dollars needed. The new facility provided space to expand health and dental services, develop an extensive senior citizen program and increase services to youth and families.
In 1970, the Center became an affiliate agency of United Way. In 1971, the Center proposed a special millage of 1/3 mil in both May and November. Both times the millage was defeated. The Township continued to support the Center through Federal Revenue Sharing Funds. These two sources supplied approximately 37% of the Center’s budget through 1986.
The 1980’s to Present Day
In 1986, the Township was asked to support a Millage for operation of the Center due to elimination of the Federal Revenue Sharing program. A ½ mil senior millage passed to fund the Senior Activities Program. It has been renewed by voters every year. Other funding comes to support specific programs through grants, service agreements, fees and contributions. Sources and programs change from time to time depending on community needs and funding availability.
The budget for the Center has grown from $54,700 in 1969 to the current $1.8 million. The Center addresses the needs of area seniors, youth and families. By providing a comprehensive program of educational enrichment, recreation, socialization, travel opportunities, food pantry, child care, information and referral, as well as volunteer opportunities, the Center is able to enhance lives and build a healthier community.
In June 2010, the Center expanded its services by the opening of a 12,000 square foot Community Learning Center. The Learning Center focuses on providing services to children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age. In addition to the programs based at the Learning Center, we provide the Great Start Readiness Program for at-risk four (4) year olds. We also offer an extended before and after care option for GSRP and school aged children. Most recently, we expanded our grant and scholarship program to provide up to 75% funding for families that are up to 200% above the poverty level. This program was designed to provide more consistent service to the families and children.
The Community Center collaborates with many non-profit and social services agencies such as: Advocacy Services for Kids, Housing Resources Inc, Community Healing Centers, Family & Children Services, Catholic Charities, Department of Human Services, Kalamazoo County Mental Health, Child Abuse & Neglect Council, Four H, Girl Scouts, Comstock Public Schools, Western Michigan University, Loaves and Fishes, Kalamazoo County Health & Human Services, and AARP, to deliver a broad range of services including child-care, socialization opportunities, and recreation. These services and activities provide opportunities for social growth, health experiences and contribute to a more positive community.