Seeds of generosity and hope that were sown in East Cleveland during the Great Depression continue to yield a great harvest for the Unity Center’s future afterschool program.
Cathryne Blocker, granddaughter of the original owner of the site where the Unity Center is now located, has presented Unity its annual grant from the Blocker Family Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation of Cleveland and Bradley County.
The fund was established in 2010 in memory and honor of Cathryne’s grandparents, William and Nancy Blocker.
William Edward Blocker and his family moved to Cleveland in the 1930s to begin a new life. He and his wife, Nancy, bought a home and property in East Cleveland and helped establish Unity Methodist Church with support from Broad Street Methodist Church.
“Not only did they provide the land for the church and community center in 1942, they also began to cultivate the vision of the importance of education,” said Cathryne, a retired educator who taught at American high schools for the U.S. Department of Defense in Germany and Japan.
According to directors David and Mary Ketchersid, “The Unity Center seeks to build hope and opportunity by promoting educational, social and spiritual growth for all.”
The program’s focus centers on assistance with homework while providing a variety of enrichment experiences for children. Today, the program operates four days a week and provides care and enrichment for kindergarten to fifth grade.
Unity Center also has a Youth Leader program for middle school and high school students and serves more than 100 students.
As the only living descendant of her family in Cleveland, Blocker not only cherished her fond memories of her family’s charitable works, but said she wanted to ensure the legacy of community service would continue on the same property under the auspices of the Unity Center.
The Blocker Family Memorial Fund is historic, not only because of the family ties to the site of the Unity Center, but also because it was the first fund opened at the Community Foundation.
“This is a good example of what the Foundation can do,” said Cathy Barrett, president of the Community Foundation of Cleveland and Bradley County. “Every year a donation from the Blocker Memorial Fund will be made to the Unity Center for the children’s program to continue the family’s legacy.”