Tolson, for the past 30 years has operated under the City of Elkhart. However, there is a new chapter. The City of Elkhart joined community momentum for Tolson Center for Community Excellence to be an independent 501(c)3 organization. There is a self-governing board made of 15 members who represents our neighbors and the breath of diversity of the people who live right here in our community. So much work has been done over the past two years to get us here…still a lot more work to do, but things like listening sessions, world cafe, alumni picnics, and simply asking our neighbors what they would like to see in a community center to serve them has happened. Lots of feedback has been shared and we are grateful for all of your input. From the start, diversity, equity, and inclusion has led all efforts of this project. Anywhere and everywhere possible, we look to work with local minority-owned businesses. We have Meticulous Architecture firm guiding the design of our building. Again, it is what has got us here to celebrate the groundbreaking of your new Tolson Center for Community Excellence.
Our new community center is going to be the premier place in Elkhart. You, family, friends, and neighbors near and far are going to want to be here. Our community center is going to be two times the size of the current center. There will be basketball courts inside, a dance room, an art room, cafeteria, gym, and well being space. Outside will be basketball courts, playground, soccer field, and beautiful grounds. These are just a few of the amazing amenities.
We can vision our community center through partnerships supporting our neighbors with financial literacy, early childhood education, career development, and possibly housing development.
We can vision basketball leagues, soccer leagues, and volleyball leagues from across the state coming to our community center for tournaments. Of course we will win a few of those tournaments.
We can vision neighbors from different backgrounds learning about each other through food, language, art, dance, and heritage.
The support surrounding Tolson is significant. I want to say thank you to Mayor Rod Roberson and the City of Elkhart, The Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Lilly Endowment, and private donors like you who have helped us raise $11.7 million (so far) to build our new community center. There is still a need to raise more money and if you have interest or want to be a part of this amazing transformation in our community, please consier making a donation.
Lastly, I want to thank The Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, Levon Johnson and his staff for serving as the event coordinators. DJ Construction for taking this project on and keeping us on track, all of our sponsors and vendors, our local and county officials, and all of you the community for being here today. This is just the beginning. We are embarking on our remarkable next chapter. The future is bright for Tolson.