Safe space for teenage parents meets resistance

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If building an “inclusive” community is a priority in North Avondale, why is the NANA / NABA Joint Strategic Development Committee (JSDC) drawing a hard line on business opportunities that will help expand their business district?

This is the question our organization Rosemary’s Babies Co. asks itself every day as we launch an aggressive six month campaign to qualify for our purchase option with The Port of Greater Cincinnati. The fate of North Avondale’s vacant Rubel House, a Samuel Hannaford-designed building at 3864 Reading Road, was in the balance for nearly a decade when the Port of Greater Cincinnati offered an option to purchase to Rosemary’s Babies Co. (RBC) in May 2021. our five-year nonprofit, named Nonprofit of the Year by Cincy Magazine, for our efforts to provide pregnancy / birth education to teenage parents. Our plan is to convert the commercial property into The Holloway House & Resource Center, a safe place for teenage parents and the community (and administrative offices for our organization).

Rosemary’s Babies Co.’s long-standing vetting process to pursue an option to buy The Rubel House has not been an easy task. This included establishing community support for the project and evaluating the Rosemary’s Babies organization as a whole: our financial health, our ability to complete the revitalization and redevelopment of the property, and the compatibility of our proposed project with its surroundings. Rosemary’s Babies Co. has partnered with high-profile companies to ensure the success of this $ 1 million renovation: Triversity Construction, KLH Engineers, Moody Nolan Architecture (the country’s leading minority architecture firm) and DSD Advisors.

Throughout the process, we received support from descendants of the Rubel family, dozens of neighborhood organizations, clubs and leaders from the South Avondale community, several residents of North Avondale and the city of Cincinnati itself (RBC is particularly well aligned with the city’s goal of addressing social injustices, marginalized citizens, especially black mothers, are at risk. We estimate that Holloway House’s local economy is over 1 million for every 100 teenage parents looked after. In fact, we will create 10 new jobs and contract opportunities both before and after the renovation.

Rosemary's Babies Co. plans to convert the vacant Rubel House in North Avondale into The Holloway House & Resource Center, a safe place for teen parents and the community and administrative offices of the nonprofit organization.

At RBC, we listened to the voices of the North Avondale community and created a plan for a holistic space that will provide wellness, education and supportive housing for Cincinnati’s most vulnerable populations, teenage parents. The space will include a state-of-the-art tech lab, three rental offices, a library and a community garden. Our goal is to revitalize this vacant building and turn it into a model for shared services, collaborative collaboration and internal district growth. Despite all of this, the joint NANA / NABA strategic development committee seems intent on destroying the project.

Initially, this group published their disapproval and disapproval of the project in their December 2020 newsletter and again in their June 2021 newsletter. Over time, they began to work hard to intimidate supporters, neighbors and allies of RBC’s Holloway House. Not only did they hold gatherings to oppose Holloway House and write derogatory articles about us in their monthly newsletter, but they encouraged their allies to flood city officials and leaders with letters, as stated at their board meeting in July – a similar one Tactics they used to keep the legionnaires out of. to denigrate Christ, a group of ministers who wanted to rededicate a piece of land and turn it into a monastery. When the same tactic failed to destroy RBC’s Holloway House project, the JSDC sought legal counsel to halt negotiations to “prevent our children from improving their lives in their community”.

One opponent of our project wrote: “This decision would have negative effects for years to come.” But how? There is no evidence that teenage parents and violence correlate. In addition, there is no relative evidence that shared apartments negatively impact property values ​​in the neighborhood, especially if that house is currently an abandoned building. Contrary to what our opponents say, the 13,000 teenage parents of all nationalities living in Hamilton County and Greater Cincinnati will outweigh the long-term effects if places like Holloway House are not welcomed in their neighborhood.

The JSDC, which was newly founded in February 2021, is not a decision-making body, but a liaison and advisory body, the purpose of which is to facilitate communication between companies and housing organizations as well as external organizations. Its website says the group was founded to maintain and improve the quality of life in the neighborhood. In our experience, their aim is inconsistent with their mission, which is “to welcome all good neighbors without prejudice, to strive to maintain a diverse neighborhood, and to actively promote neighborhood solidarity and harmony”.

In the past few months, the “good neighbors and inclusive” actions of this group have proven questionable and daunting for our organization, as their public scrutiny and media tricks to stop our expansion in their neighborhood are the hearts of our team, our customers and their babies. We fear that this group will oppose any organization or opportunity that does not fit their concept of acceptable inclusivity and diversity – even when faced with a real opportunity to welcome both of them into the neighborhood. We are also concerned that the opinions of these opponents are not based on personal experience, but are driven by stereotypes of black fathers, as well as unfounded fears, misperceptions, archaic attitudes and simple prejudices against teenagers with children. Both fears are unfair and do not indicate a good neighbor.

The obvious socioeconomic disparities in the Avondale neighborhood are no secret – the dividing line of poverty is Clinton Springs. But RBC, an organization known for building collaborations through inclusive programs and partnerships, stands ready to use its relationships, network, and resources to remove the purple lines to build a bridge between the two communities to NABA’s Plan for Economic Development and Avondale’s Quality of Life Plan. Our efforts to be a good neighbor have fallen on deaf ears, even though we have continually invited NANA / NABA to be partners in our collective efforts to empower the community and alleviate social injustices for their residents, business owners and neighbors. We are now asking NANA / NABA to stand behind their mission and allow our organization to continue the work that will change lives and protect our babies.

Holloway House & Resource Center will be a life changing place for everyone involved: teenage parents, their babies, and the community. RBC’s investment in 3864 Reading Road would not only help revitalize the community, but could also inspire others to invest in the area and reduce crime. The renovation brings life to a property that has been derelict for a decade. As mentioned earlier, Avondale could become a city-wide model for shared service, community collaboration, and internal neighborhood growth.

Despite the challenges, Rosemary’s Babies Co. has a reputation based on integrity, respect and transparency. Like a real good neighbor, our intent is to build bridges of opportunity rather than fuel the flames to encourage the oppression of our children. We feel called to work together to change the outlook for young parents in the greater Cincinnati area. The port made its choice and gave us a chance. Even with several challenging contingencies, including RBC’s commitment to secure the total project cost of $ 1 million in just six months, we vow to stay on course.

Instead of continuing to waste time and resources on the few who question our efforts, we ask the wider community, RBC’s Holloway House and the 371 teenagers we have cared for this year, to support us. We ask the rest of the community to work with our organization and those who support our mission.

Rosemary Oglesby-Henry is the founder and CEO of Rosemary’s Babies Co. To learn more, visit www.rosemarysbabies.co/changetheoutlook or contact Rosemary’s Babies Co. at (513) 813-8336.

Rosemary Oglesby-Henry


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