By De’Kendrea Stamps
East Madison Community Center
The East Madison Community Center (EMCC) is a thriving space where children, adults and seniors come to connect with resources necessary to enhance their quality of life and build meaningful relationships with the greater Madison community. Last year EMCC celebrated its 50th anniversary. From humble beginnings in a small apartment, EMCC initially provided youth with structured activities and adults with a neighborhood-based meeting place. Today, it is a bustling 20,000-square-foot multi-service center providing social, educational, recreational and cultural programming.
With a small paid staff and over 250 volunteers, EMCC plays a crucial role in helping area residents. Staff are devoted to helping community members achieve their goals, gain skills and strengthen the community through education, employment, fitness and navigating social issues. However, many citizens living on the north and east sides of Madison are unaware of the work being done at EMCC. One of the first questions often is “Where exactly are you located?”
EMCC is located at 8 Straubel Court, across the street from Madison College’s Truax campus in the heart of the Truax apartment community. However, our service area extends to everything east of Highway 30 and Packers Avenue, west to I-90 and north to Hoepker Road.
EMCC serves over 6,000 people each year in three primary areas. These include education, nutrition/health and facility usage.
Students are provided with a safe, supervised and structured setting where they can play and learn. EMCC provides daily free afterschool programming until 8 pm Monday–Thursday, 9 pm Friday, and Saturday drop-in from 9 am–5 pm. In summer, students attend free Summer Day Camp where they take part in educational programs that prevent summer learning loss, while activities like swimming, picnics, field trips, multicultural programs, arts and crafts and music keep participants healthy and engaged.
The Youth Minority Achievement Program has seen youth from the area not only attend college but graduate from college, which has become the new norm. EMCC provides 90 minutes each weekday and one hour on Saturday for its minority learning center. The program has had a tremendous impact on the community. It is staffed primarily by tutors from diverse ethnic backgrounds, some of whom are paid staff and many who are volunteers from the UW-Madison’s Masters Education Program, as well as students from Madison and Edgewood Colleges.
EMCC provides an array of opportunities for families and individuals to place their health as a primary source to enhancing their quality of life. Students are provided with a nutritious meal and snack Monday–Saturday. Youth learn the benefits of exercise, food safety, meal planning and understanding nutrition labels. The fitness component includes activities ranging from swimming, basketball and rock climbing to dancing, mindfulness, canoeing and handball. Adults are welcome to use the free on-site fitness room or participate in group exercise classes.
In 2016 EMCC provided over 50 tons of food to 2,485 families. That’s more than 84,000 meals. Each week, Dane County residents participate in the “client choice” pantry where options for healthy fruits, vegetables and pantry essentials are provided. Emergency food is also available to families as needed. On the fourth Tuesday of each month, toiletries, clothing and household items are distributed. EMCC is also home to the Truax Community Garden, which includes 40 plots of garden space, raised beds and a Kids Garden.
Community groups and area residents have access to space at EMCC for small and large group meetings/gatherings, gym usage and performing arts. The multi-purpose room truly lives up to its name with groups using the space for breakdancing, birthday parties, Zumba classes, historical sword practice and much more. Meeting rooms are available free of charge; larger spaces are rented for a nominal fee.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of program offerings at EMCC. For more information, visit our website at eastmadisoncc.org, like us on Facebook, or stop by 8 Straubel Court for a tour.