This week, six organizations that recently moved into the old Ignacio Elementary School will celebrate with the public the grand opening of a community center geared toward Ignacio’s youth.
The ELHI (Education, Literacy, Health and Inspiration) Community Center, which formerly housed Ignacio Elementary School, is now the operating space for six nonprofits that aims to spur collaborative efforts to benefit Ignacio’s children and teenagers through programs related to the arts, faith and education.
“Think ‘rainbow,’ or all colors,” said ELHI board treasurer Kasey Correia, meaning that the community center welcomes all groups and ethnicities to use its services. Correia said the center will fill a void in Ignacio, and its plan focuses on flexibility and the needs and desires of Ignacio’s kids and families.
“(The community) can help shape it,” she said. “What do you want in your community center?”
Correia owns Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center, which offers art workshops and programs. She is one of the six tenants who relocated to ELHI in September, in addition to Hope Community Christian Academy, Ignacio Community Church, La Plata County Independent Youth Performing Arts and Southern Ute Community Action Programs (SUCAP) Youth Services.
Leased from the Ignacio JT-11 school district, ELHI includes multipurpose space, a kitchen and classrooms designated for each organization with the intent of providing services for children K-12. Programs range from La Plata County Independent Youth Performing Arts’ ballet, yoga and karate classes, to Ignacio Community Church services, which will be held in the school’s former library.
Collaboration among tenants is encouraged.
“One of the exciting things for me is the way all the tenants are working together, the collaboration, cross-pollination, sharing resources,” ELHI Tenant Association Board Chairman Raymond Dunton told The Pine River Times. “One of our main strengths is we are community-based and have a common vision and mission in serving the community.”
Correia said Ignacio is often looked down upon within La Plata County, but this project will fight that stigma.
“The reason this is important is because Ignacio is considered the lowest, but we’re on the edge of unfolding,” Correia said. “Our community is healing, and ELHI is showing you the healing with all the positive things we’re bringing out in the community.
“This is totally outside the box for Ignacio.”
The grand opening will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, at 115 Ute Street. The event is free and open to the public and will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Pine River Times Staff Writer Carole McWilliams contributed to this report.