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TCH can do better

I am not one to typically post cause or position-related content in the public sphere, but the concerns about The Community House (TCH) raised recently, and throughout the last year, via the Planning Board, Commission Board, and in Downtown Newsmagazine, are all valid, and of concern. The decisions TCH have made over the last several years have impacted not only myself, but the entire community, and has only gotten worse.

For about seven years, my co-leader and I led a very successful, and I would say coveted, 7th grade leadership program, called 21st Century Leaders, for kids residing in/around Oakland County out of TCH. The only way to be nominated was via the school principal, and with the support/encouragement of the kid’s parents, since this was after-school programming. Some of my friends were lucky enough to have kids nominated and graduate from the program, while other parents lobbied for their kids to be a part of it, unsuccessfully. The curriculum was top-notch, drawing on a world of experience from two seasoned business professionals, challenging for the kids, and it also meant juggling regular and 21st Century Leader homework. The program was supported by grants which we helped solicit from local companies and organizations.

Unfortunately, the 21st Century Leaders program began to unravel in 2015-2016 with the appointment of the new TCH President and CEO, William Seklar, and unusual termination of my co-leader, followed shortly thereafter by my resignation, and all due to a number of issues that continue to appear under his leadership. In 2016, the program was cancelled last minute due to our departures. Matter of fact, the cancellation took place right before the start of the program (Parent Orientation), which, due to poor TCH communication, caused parents to still show up at TCH only to be turned away. I believe 2017 was its final program year, with new leaders, before it was cancelled for good. 

Last week, Clinton Baller, the Birmingham City Commissioner, did a really nice job summarizing TCH issues with facts based on data. I’m hopeful that the data from the annual reports, and from the survey, that it will highlight the opportunities for improvement which should include a review of TCH’s purpose and intentions in serving the community through meaningful programming and outreach, and review of the leadership. As a non-profit, TCH did better and can do better.

Donald E. Smith

Bloomfield Hills


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