DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A pair of buildings on the 600 block of Xenia Avenue offer a safety net to families in the East Dayton community.
Colorful murals on the East End Community Services buildings aren’t the organization’s only contribution to brightening the neighborhood. Founded in 1998, the nonprofit provides crucial support to adults and children.
“They’re a blessing and I could’ve never gotten through without them,” said Penny Bane of the help she received at East End.
Bane’s world upended several years ago when her household suddenly grew by five. Her oldest daughter was struggling with a heroin addiction and was unable to care for her children.
“It was a shock to the whole family,” Bane said.
Bane took custody of her four grandchildren, ages two to 13, and then more recently adopted her 4-day old grandchild.
The children all suffered early trauma and behavioral issues. One was born addicted to heroin and health specialists never expected him to read or write. Bane said since she took guardianship and enrolled all of the children in East End programs, they’ve exceeded expectations.
She said, “They’ve come a long way. They have stability. They have set goals in their lives.”
The oldest, now 16, is participating in ROTC. At 14, the second oldest is dedicated to schooling and hopes to attend the Ohio State University. Bane said the 9-year-old, whom doctors said couldn’t learn, is now thriving in a special education program and achieving perfect test scores for spelling.
In total, East End Community Services reaches 4,000 adults and children every year. It offers after-school and summer programs for all ages and helps adults with job resources and community education.
Executive director Jan Lepore-Jentleson said the organization was founded as a means to help children in East Dayton achieve success and end the cycle of generational poverty.
“We think our kids deserve the same kind of opportunities that children in more middle-class neighborhoods have,” Lepore-Jentleson said.
East End relies on community backing for financial support and mentorship.