One being that it’s just a counseling center, or that the agency only helps people with anger management issues. Or that the Community Services for the Deaf program is a completely different agency.
However, it’s important for the nonprofit and Dina Younis, Fund Development & Marketing Director at Greenleaf Family Center, to raise awareness about Greenleaf’s programs. There is more to the agency than what you might think.
“Greenleaf is a place that people say, ‘I know what you do, but I wasn’t quite sure,’ and people are always surprised when I tell them about all the different programs offered,” she said. “It is so diverse, it can be difficult to explain all the variety, but the variety is what makes us unique.”
Greenleaf Family Center serves more than 8,000 individuals through more than 16 different programs. These individuals often face challenges of daily living and personal crises that arise from a variety of reasons such as teenage parenting, alcohol and drug addictions, financial instability, or lack of employment.
A wide range of programming
Within four different areas, Greenleaf provides services and programs to help residents in community get through their problems. These four areas include:
Behavioral Health Services, which encompasses counseling, education programs and drug/alcohol assessment, including areas such as juvenile diversion issues, parenting and family issues, and depression and anxiety.
Family Support Programs, which include educational programs such as Young Parents Club, At Risk Youth & Families and Kindergarten Readiness: SPARK Ohio and anti-bullying programs.
Financial Services for Families, which helps families move toward financial self-sufficiency and retain employment. Programs and services include the Auto Loan program, bankruptcy counseling, and credit workshops.
Community Services for the Deaf, a source of information for deaf people and interpreters for the deaf.
There are no qualifications for people seeking counseling but for certain programs such as the Auto Loan program or credit counseling, individuals must meet certain criteria to seek assistance.
Younis said she is most excited about the organization’s Moving Forward program, an extension of of Greenleaf’s teenage parent program. Moving Forward is new this year, and meets every other Tuesday at the Hillwood II Community Center.
“Many of the teenage parent programs end when the mothers turn 18 and after that time, there is nothing out there for them,” she said. “With Moving Forward, we’ve extended it to ages of 20 through 24. We’ll bring in nutritionists, provide financial education and help them get back to school if they need it. It’s a really cool way for them to identify with each other and get together.”
Celebrating 100 years of stability, and a new location
Since opening in 1912, Greenleaf Family Center’s mission has remained consistent—strengthen families through counseling, education and support. Greenleaf opened as Charity Organization Society of Akron under Goodyear founder F.A. Seiberling and Firestone Founder Harvey Firestone. The nonprofit has adapted over the years to accommodate the needs in the community, especially during times such as the Great Depression.
“We’re celebrating our 100th anniversary this year. Celebrating 100 years shows that we maintain our stability through tough economic times. Stability describes our nonprofit,” Younis said.
One thing that won’t remain the same is their location. The University of Akron purchased the group’s building, and Greenleaf spent the last 18 months attempting to find a new home, which was a bit more difficult than it might seem. The nonprofit needed a place close to a bus line and close to downtown.
The organization has “lucked out” with its new location at 580 Grant St., which supplies more space for the agency to grow and to serve the community. The grand opening of the new space will take place in June and tie in with the group’s 100th anniversary.
“We’re doing 100k for our 100 year, over the next two years,” Younis said. “We’ll have a permanent giving tree, and everyone who has donated $250 or more to our annual campaign will get a leaf.”
Despite 100 years of service to the Akron community, Younis said there still is a need to get the word out about Greenleaf. Staff members are always looking for volunteers for special events, and wish to excite and encourage a younger population to get involved with the organization’s services. She added that working at Greenleaf is rewarding and it’s important to her and to the agency to spread why they are needed in the community.
The group serves a wide range of clients, and programs like anti-bullying are only a small part of the what they do. Younis said the desperation of the clients and the success they achieve inspires her to continue to work every day.
“Some of our programs are court ordered, and people don’t want to be there. Some are parents trying to get their kids back. Some are in the anger management classes we offer. When you see them transform, it’s truly inspiring, ” she said.
Younis added, “It’s extremely rewarding. It’s the cliche thing to say, but it really is. The basic things you or I take for granted, for instance how to care for and nurture your child, they don’t know it to be any other way. We provide them with the resources they need to achieve,” she said.
For more information about Greenleaf Family Center’s services, visit www.greenleafctr.org.