By Molly Flodder—
Muncie, IN—Muncie’s Ross Community Center will celebrate their annual International Festival without gathering as is the tradition. Instead the community is invited to participate in an International Silent Auction set for October 10-17. Items up for auction range from a smoked barbecued dinner for six and a pie of the month for a year to a Malaysian fried noodles dish and a logo design for a small business. Bidders may click on the link to see what is being auctioned and be ready to bid beginning Saturday, October 10. The link to the catalog and bidding opportunity is www.charityauction.bid/RCCsilentauction2020
Event co-chairs and Board members Rachel Stahlke and Tania Said are disappointed that people will miss this opportunity to visit the Ross Center and to experience a taste of the world. According to Said, “Likely in the Fall of 2021, we will host the event and continue the tradition with history, culture, foods, music and dance of other countries.”
The Center has been operating in Muncie’s Avondale-Thomas Park neighborhood for 46 years and serves residents from all over the community. During this time of health crisis, the center has functioned in a more-limited fashion while continuing with several of their programs and services. Over the summer, an ongoing collaboration with WIPB led to hosting a six-week-long Ready to Learn virtual “camp”. The center also held summer youth baseball for almost 100 youth ages 4-12, following COVID-19 health guidelines, as well as virtual exercise programs. In the Fall, the center has resumed youth and adult health and wellness programming.
As a response to the pandemic, since the spring, a major focus of the center has been expanding its weekly free community market every Friday afternoon, distributing food and essential non-food items to households, together with healthy food recipes from Purdue Extension and health and wellness conversations with Dr. Lynn Witty from the Healthy Lifestyle Center at IH Health Ball Memorial Hospital. Five-hundred to six-hundred households are served each week as the need has grown. For the Ross Center’s Executive Director, Jacqueline Hanoman, it is important that this not be seen as a mere food giveaway. As she expresses frequently to attendees at the market “This is not charity. This is an opportunity of friends helping friends to overcome some of the challenges you are facing. We are walking hand in hand with you to get through this.”
Funds from this fundraiser will support the regular programs of the Center. The facility will again be serving a wide spectrum of ages with education, health, and wellness for the area’s diverse community. Family engagement and community outreach programs, a weekly free community market and afterschool programs that focus on fostering creativity and imagination are important components of the work. The Ross Center also operates an award-winning judo program for children and adults, senior Euchre and Bingo, little league baseball, and basketball for youth and adults. The organization seeks to provide unique and diverse learning, wellness, and athletic programs in a safe environment where people can develop life skills, grow and experience success.