Harlem Tenants Association receives CRA Grant

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
CLEWISTON — Janet Taylor accepts a CRA grant from CentersState Bank.

CLEWISTON — “It was an honor to accept the Community Reinvestment Grant from CenterState Bank on behalf of Harlem Tenants Association. Harlem Tenants Association has served its community for the past 50 years. Thanks so much for partnering with us and enabling us to continue impacting our community,” Janet Taylor, vice president and secretary of the Harlem Tenants Association, recently announced after receiving a generous grant from Centerstate Bank.

Centerstate Bank is very proud of its involvement in their local communities. Their employees volunteer thousands of hours participating in local events and activities through partnerships with organizations such as the United Way, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. Nonprofit donations and grants are an integral part of CenterState’s operations. They work diligently to support the economic, social and cultural life.

“We have sustained effectiveness in the community for the past 50 years. Receiving this grant will allow us to continue to grow and provide life-changing resources and services to empower the community,” Taylor said.

She went on to explain that the Harlem Tenants Association is an organization that was incorporated in 1970, with the purpose of providing housing for low-income families. In their gated complex, they provide housing for 126 families.
“We are a community-based organization that promotes healthy families, self-sufficiency, academics and cultural awareness. Although our original goal was housing to meet an imminent need at that time, the scope of our reach has grown and increased over the past 50 years of being in operation,” said Taylor.

The group has become such a dynamic force, providing assistance to individuals in cases of house fires, medical emergencies and funerals. The also help both young and senior citizens in the community.

“We provide mentoring to our young men and women who have lost their focus, and scholarships to our graduating seniors. We also provide apprenticeship training in carpentry, maintenance and AC,” said Taylor. “All of our efforts are to combat the high unemployment statistics in our county.

“Our ownership is varied throughout the community and is strategic for the goals we seek to accomplish,” she went on to say. “We have an interactive Community Resource Room​ on the complex which accommodates meetings, training and special events. Our Resource Room is also equipped with a computer lab that provides students and parents with access to the internet and other office amenities.”

They were the first group to own and operate the Harlem Civic Center, and continue to provide information to the community, even employing the use of a large electronic sign.

“Our ​digital sign​ that is located at the entrance of the community is effective in keeping residents informed of current events.”

Their community recognizes the national issue of living with chronic disease. To provide a local, safe place for healthy activities, they built a 4-acre Community Tree Park and a 2-acre Community Garden. The Tree Park has an exercise trail, with future plans to install individual pavilions, running water and lighting. The Community Garden is in need of clearing and for families to adopt plots and commit to growing produce.

The group has even co-hosted political forums that allow the residents in the community to personally meet candidates during each election, and co-hosted Lunch and Learns for those interested in entrepreneurship. This year they sponsored the community’s first Juneteenth Celebration that provided education and networking for the entire city.

“It has been a pleasure and honor these last 50 years providing and enriching our community with these services. Our senior citizens benefit every Christmas with the help of our churches and businesses to an elaborate Christmas party,”

Taylor added, “We believe that the strength of the community is in the strength of the families that reside therein. Therefore we partner with other organizations to provide essential resources and services.”

These collaborations have allowed the Harlem Tenants Association to provide senior citizens with a monthly food distribution, health workshops, transportation, wellness checks, biannual field trips and a yearly Christmas party. For adults they provide training programs such as life skills and parenting classes, leadership training, health workshops, volunteer training and opportunities, community hours for judicial purposes, and job training and job placement programs. Their youth programs include apprenticeship training in carpentry, maintenance and AC, mentoring for middle and high school students, community hours for academic purposes, youth employment through an on the job training program, a yearly summer camp and scholarships for high school graduates.

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