The Community Family Enrichment Center has existed to serve the needs of the community for 20 years.

The Community Family Enrichment Center has existed to serve the needs of the community for 20 years.
A reception is scheduled for Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the center.
Meeting the needs of the community is the primary purpose of the Community Family Enrichment Center.
According to Dr. Patricia Wright, executive director for the Community Family Enrichment Center, the center had its beginning in July 1997 in the old church building of the West End Presbyterian Church on Logan Street.
Wright said the creation of the Community Family Enrichment Center was spawned from a need to provide a safe, supervised environment for children after school and during the summer months.
“Children were being left alone at home. With Logan being behind Ross Apartments you had a lot of children and a lot of foot traffic up and down Logan Street. With the children walking and hanging around on Pine Street and in places that we felt were not safe for children after school and during the summer and with the lack of activities and things for them to do,” said Wright.
In addition to providing a safe environment for the children, the center was created to provide academic support, enrichment activities and field trips to the children, as well as support for local families.
Following a ground breaking ceremony in December 2000, the center moved to its current location, a 15,000 square foot facility in Feaster Park, in January 2002.
The Community Family Enrichment Center is the home to College of the Ouachita’s Adult Education, Family Support Services - Parenting Services, CADC Head Start for children ages three and four and computer training.
In addition, a food pantry is operated out of the center twice a week. Food is distributed to the general public on Tuesday, while senior citizens receive food on Thursdays.
“We just signed an agreement with the Arkansas Food Bank to provide USDA food which will increase the amount of food families will be receiving,” Wright said.
In addition, the center works with the Clark County Ecumenical Food Pantry to provide Thanksgiving boxes to the community in November.
Meeting rooms and a party room can also be found inside the Community Family Enrichment Center.
“I think the unique thing about the center is that it is sort of a one-stop umbrella for many services for families. For example, a family may come in to enroll a child in head start and that same parent may need to enroll in the GED program. If they have a need for food or other referral services, we can do that while they are here. We don’t look at them just one dimensional, we look at the whole family and what those needs are and how we can help those families become self-sufficient,” said Wright.
According to Wright, the center’s board of directors will be introduced to patrons during Thursday’s reception.
Current board members are Wright, Estella Forte; chair of the board, Betty Gentry, Bruce Bell, Betty Eckhart, Phillip McCorkle, Kasey Summerville and Sheree Hendrix.
“We really want to thank the community for their support for 20 years and for their continued support of the center through donations, volunteers and community resources,” said Wright.
In addition to support from the community, Wright described the volunteers as the core of the center.
“From day one, we have always had volunteers who have given of their time and their resources to support our children and families. They continue to do so today,” Wright said.
Wright noted that Forte was one of the center’s founding board members and has served on the CFEC Board of Directors since day one.
Looking back on her 20 years on the board, Forte noted the CFEC is a valuable resource for citizens and families of the community.
Forte said the center not only provides a place for families to come together for family reunion, wedding or a repass, but also provides adequate space for churches and other organizations, businesses and groups to have meetings and small functions.
“It’s open to many, many functions that people need in the community. It’s a valuable resource in the Arkadelphia and the surrounding area,” said Forte.
Overall, Wright said the center has lived up to its name by serving the community and families.
“Not only does it serve the community of Arkadelphia, but it goes beyond not only the county, but the state as well,” said Wright.
While other communities have centers that are similar to the CFEC, Forte believes there are none that are as flexible as the local center.
“Pat doesn’t turn anybody down. Arkadelphia has a history of people coming back home at this time of the year. There are some facilities, but they are not as flexible, as generous and as open to the people that’s wanting to come in just to be able to get together and sit down and visit with their family,” Forte said.
While there have been many supporters of the CFEC during the years, Wright noted the support of former senator and local businessman Percy Malone and Bill Wright who have been strong advocates for the center since 1997. Wright also noted the support of the families of the founding volunteers and other local families who have been committed to the center and who still volunteer their services.
The center operates off of donations from the community and grants. The public is asked to consider making a donation of $20 or any amount of their choice in honor of the center’s 20th anniversary.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to CFEC, P.O. Box 582, Arkadelphia, AR 71923.