Every town has its emotional center, a spot that most exemplifies its core values. For Davidson, that emotional center might very well be The Ada Jenkins Center. Originally opened in 1937 as the Davidson Colored School, integration led to its closing in the late 1960s. In 1995, community members established The Ada Jenkins Center there, named for the original school’s principal.
Today, the programs and staff of the Ada Jenkins Center aim to improve the quality of life for community residents through the integrated delivery of health, education, and human services. While many hearts and hands keep the center running, the full-time employees are all women. In celebration of what they do, and in honor of a month that celebrates women by way of Mother’s Day, we introduce you.
Georgia Krueger, 52, Executive Director.
After 20 years with the YMCA, Krueger joined the center over two years ago.
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Why is the center important? Miss Ada was a community catalyst who pioneered individual growth. Her legacy continues. We meet people in their moment of crisis, support them, and then continue on the walk as they work toward stability. What should people know about the Ada Jenkins team? Our team is a vast one that goes far beyond the six full time people. We absolutely could not do this without the entire team, including the hundreds of volunteers who take their responsibilities as seriously as the paid staff.
What makes a good mom? The best moms know they are the mother. It is their job to be a great role model for their children, to love them, and to teach them to love others. Great moms are dependable, but help their children become independent.
Tamara W. Roach, 43, Operations Director/Volunteer Coordinator At the center for a year, Roach is a mother of two and an avid reader.
Responsibilities: I help identify bottlenecks and implement change to increase daily efficiencies for our clients and our staff, as well as long-term efficiencies for the center. I also identify volunteer needs, recruit volunteers for daily operations and events to meet these needs, and introduce volunteers to our programs and services.
Most rewarding part? I am blessed to work with an amazing staff, a cadre of fabulous community volunteers, and some very insightful Davidson College students. One thing your mom taught you? A love of learning. This has allowed me to try new experiences, do things alone that I may have felt out of my comfort zone doing, introduced me to new people and cultures, and gain an appreciation for all that I'm blessed with in my life.
Natisha Rivera-Patrick, 35, Development Director
Rivera-Patrick is a mother of two who is passionate about learning. At the center for a year, she loves being part of such a dynamic team that is dedicated to helping others.
Daily Lesson? Nothing is guaranteed to any of us, and, despite the best planning, it could be us one day that needs help.
Why is the center important? We are a one-stop-shop for individuals that find themselves in crisis. We work with them not only to address their immediate situation, but to establish long-term goals aimed at helping them build a foundation and a support system that is aimed at reducing or eliminating crisis situations.
One thing your mom taught you? Stand up for what you believe is right and be an advocate for others that cannot help themselves.
Barbara Najenson, 35, Latino Services Coordinator
A native of Argentina, Najenson moved to the United States ten years ago.
Responsibilities: Support our Latino families, and provide the center and other partner organizations with the assistance they need in order to serve our neighbors. We take fostering self-sufficiency among our clients very seriously. We fulfill this commitment by providing basic and intermediate computer classes, ESL through the YMCA, and job interview preparation in partnership with Davidson College.
Why is the center important? The reality is that if there were no Ada there would be so many families that wouldn’t have any access to services that address the basic needs of life. My life would have been very different if there had been an Ada Jenkins Center for my family in Argentina.
One thing your mom taught you? She taught me to be a lifelong learner, to always work hard, and to give 110 percent to everything.
Diane Means, 40, LEARN Works Program Director
This mother of two is in her 11th year at the Ada Jenkins Center.
Responsibilities: I oversee the program planning and development for LEARN Works, an afterschool program that focuses on academic progress, personal development, and enrichment opportunities for elementary school students.
Proudest professional moment? Last June, most of the third-graders from when I started here graduated from high school. Many are now pursuing college. That I had the chance to know them and have a small part of helping them reach that milestone makes me proud.
What should people know about the Ada Jenkins team? They are diverse, talented, fierce, and so loving. It is such a joy to work with people who are professionals, yes, but who are just really good people, too.
Pamela Ploger, 59, IT Business Support Project Manager
At the center for a year, Ploger came from the private sector and is enjoying the rewards of working in the non-profit sector.
Responsibilities: My work ranges from having input on how to utilize software to helping people work with hardware. We offer a beginning computer skills class in English and Spanish, and we are looking at expanding that to more advanced subjects.
One thing your mom taught you? She instilled in me to do the best that I could and to continue to move ahead and not restrict myself.
What should people know about the Ada Jenkins team? Everybody is so in tune with what Ada is to the community, and we really strive to help our clients to the best of our ability. A lot of our programs interact with each other because when people come in, they don’t have just one challenge, they have several. We find ways to solve problems.