In Hunting Park, the Ayuda Community Center is a short walk or ride from any resident’s home. Directly across from The Hunting Park Christian Academy, at 4400 N. Marshall St., residents can go and reach out to Programs Manager Pamela Ramos for just about anything. If they need papers filed, a safe place to have children meet after school or a number to contact someone who could fix a broken sink, Ayuda can help.
“The biggest thing is that what makes us different from many other community organizations is, here we don’t have a set program, we prefer to know the residents,” Ramos said.
“Relationship building is key to providing a good service for those who need it,” Ramos said. Ayuda’s tactic is to be a staple in the community and to know the residents. Ramos repeated the importance of connecting with the community you serve interpersonally, not just because you have to.
When you walk into the building, on the wall you notice pictures, painted and photographed from different children of all ages. In the corner hangs a quilt of different pictures sewn together by kids who attend the after-school program. The quilt has positive messages about Hunting Park and the residents.
“Being open and just letting people walk in,” Ramos said, “provides a reliable place and a good service to members of the community. We are always here.”
While most of the everyday business conducted has to do with answering questions, filing legal paper work and residents posting or looking on the job bulletin board, there is a lesser-known side to Ayuda.
Ayuda is not exclusive. Anyone who needs information, services or help from anywhere could walk through the doors. Hunting Park is Ayuda’s main focus and predominant clientele, but they will not refuse anyone in need of information or help. “Anyone can come in here. You don’t have to live in the area to use our services,” Ramos said.
Ayuda is also an extension of the Hunting Park Christian Academy. “The school is like our cousin. We work together in some aspects,” Ramos said. Ayuda focuses on character building, spirituality and education.
The focus on character building as a whole in order to develop well- rounded children is based around an idea that, if children are taught right, then they will be productive members of the community.
Ayuda and Hunting Park Christian Academy are faith-based organizations, but there is no spiritual requirement to be a part of any of the services. The center is linked to the school and the school to the church. In Hunting Park you will find a desire to be an extension of the community in all facets.
Ayuda is not a band-aid to a neighborhood whose residents are in need. The organization provides the stitches and a solution to community issues. Ayuda and Hunting Park Christian Academy build character and guide residents while they are young to be contributing, successful and productive members of the community as adults.