Organization’s Social Mission
The Community House (TCH) is a nonprofit that impacts lives through exceptional educational, social and outreach experiences.
History of Organization
In 1923, a small committee of people in the Birmingham area founded The Community House (TCH) in a small frame structure on the corner of Bates and Maple. They planned it to be a non-partisan, non-sectarian, non-exclusive community center where all would be welcome. Ruth Shain was one of seven women who made up the first administrative board. Ruth was very instrumental in putting together a constitution, bylaws and house rules. In the beginning she served as vice chairman, but soon became president leading The House beyond its early stages. Later her husband, Charles Shain, Mayor of Birmingham, followed in her footsteps to be a TCH President.
It is no coincidence that TCH’s front doors face Shain Park, which it proudly overlooks as the Shain legacy lives on within its walls. In 1925, TCH was voted “the official center of charitable endeavors…to promulgate the social, civic and philanthropic life of the village” – a sign of how important this small nonprofit had become as the “heart” of this community. And TCH still is today.
A tone was set that TCH would be a meeting place for all people and their needs, hoping every citizen would take a part to help serve others. The Shains and local business notables were set on making TCH a sustainable success believing “We should cherish…and do anything in our power to make this Community House a great success.”
TCH became a nonprofit that gave people access to things they couldn’t get elsewhere. A place for people to bond, get food, education, and help. TCH was the first venue for Rotary and Lions Club meetings (still meeting here today), and for The Village Players and The Village Women’s Club – legitimizing TCH’s outreach focus, since these organizations would have found it difficult to exist without the free space from TCH. Today TCH provides free space and support for a dozen such groups.
This small building became a hub of community activity, and by 1928 it was evident that a much larger facility would be required. A capital campaign was launched which raised $125,000 from area individuals, civic and social groups and businesses. In April 1930, the new building on Bates Street opened with a celebration attended by more than 5,000 people, including Clara and Henry Ford.
Today, The Community House offers over 1000 yearly class options including everything from cooking and art history classes to yoga and fitness. The Community House is home to the Early Childhood Center (child care and preschool); TCH Dance Academy; and the Sara Smith Youth Theatre. The public is welcome to join various TCH Clubs including Friends of the Gardens, the International Community Club, the Newcomers Club, as well as the Senior Men’s Club and TCH Women’s Club.
The Community House StoryTellers Guild makes hundreds of visits to twelve different schools throughout metro Detroit to share their love of storytelling. The StoryTellers have made a significant impact in promoting literacy in our community. The Guild received a Special Recognition Award on behalf of Pontiac Longfellow School’s Grade “A” Achievement which was presented to them by the Pontiac School District.
Since 1987, The Community House’s Race Relations & Diversity Task Force has reached out to the greater community by presenting monthly open forums and programs to promote discussions of race and diversity related issues. The meetings are open to all and there is no charge for admission. Annual programs include the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast Celebration and the Diversity Champion Honor Roll Breakfast. The Community House received New Detroit’s prestigious “Closing the Gap” award for its support of the Task Force as well as Corp! Magazine’s “Diversity Champion” Award.
The Community House is proud to offer Youth Development Programs for At-Risk Teens and Children in Need:
iCount™: The iCount childhood obesity program instills the benefits of daily exercise, healthy eating and positive body image. TCH delivers this transformational 10 week program through nonprofit agencies in the tri-county area. iCount culminates in an exciting Vibrancy Day event celebrating their success. iCounters are challenged to log 10K steps daily, use the iCount web platform to study the nutritional value of the food they eat, and learn important life skills of accountability, attaining team goals and discipline.
Feed Your Family’s Future is a partnership with Headstart program parents and their preschool aged children throughout Oakland and Wayne counties. TCH distributes family literacy/engagement packages focusing on the following areas of impact: Family Financial Budgeting, Employment & Job Skills, Exercise & Nutrition for Families, and Coping with Stress.
Each Fall, art teachers from metro Detroit public and private schools select the artwork of over 200 student artists for the Student Art Town exhibition at The Community House. The week-long exhibit culminates with awards and a series of free children’s art workshops.
21st Century Leaders: The 21st Century Leaders program brings together forty 7th graders from area charter, public, and private schools for a bi monthly, 9 month school year focusing on topics related to becoming a leader. Students develop business acumen, etiquette skills, public speaking skills, team presentation skills, as well as relationships with other teens whom they normally would never meet. Leaders exit the program with a better sense of self-confidence of what it takes to be a true leader in their community.