By Dustin Turner
In April 2021, the Community Foundation for the CSRA, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA and the Medical College of Georgia Foundation began a project designed to help residents of the Harrisburg and Laney Walker neighborhoods thrive. Now, just more than a year later, two brand-new, modern buildings at the corner of Fenwick Street and Chafee Avenue serve as a campus to better serve the residents. The buildings are known as the Hub for Community Innovation.
“The buildings are stunning and are a huge expansion of possibilities for the nonprofits in Hub West,” said Shell Berry, the CEO of the Community Foundation for the CSRA and a leader of the project. Hub West is a 33,000-square foot building that is home to Augusta Locally Grown, Harrisburg Family Healthcare, RISE Augusta and the Augusta University Literacy Center.
The Community Foundation chose the organizations to “bolster access to what we believe are aspects of a thriving community – quality health care, food that heals rather than harms and educational support from birth to adult,” Berry said.
The Hub, she explains, is trying to build the framework of support in a collaborative environment so that residents of Harrisburg and Laney Walker can get the kinds of resources they need to thrive and succeed. Having the organizations in a central location like the Hub helps residents go to one place to:
• Get healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables from Augusta Locally Grown and enjoy the weekly Veggie Park Farmers Market on the Hub campus.
• Access free primary and mental health care from Harrisburg Family Healthcare. The Hub West has allowed the clinic to expand from three to 10 exam rooms, from three days per week to five days, and from only volunteers to a full-time medical director.
• Be prescribed fresh vegetables and fruit from the clinic and redeem that order at the clinic pharmacy of the farmers market.
• Learn to cook the fruits and vegetables and use them in recipes.
• Access lifelong learning and literacy classes through RISE Augusta.
“Augusta Locally Grown also helps the clinic track high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions so they can help people get off medications with fresh, healthy foods,” Berry said. “These are partnerships that already existed in Harrisburg and Laney Walker, and we’ve been able to catapult them into much higher capacity. All these programs were put on steroids through the use of this building.”
The other Hub building is the new home of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA. The support center is approximately 16,000 square feet, a large expansion from its previous headquarters. The state-of-the-art center will help the organization expand its services that focus on youth mentoring, college readiness, workforce readiness and virtual programming.
The Hub is a project of the Hub Augusta Collaborative, a group comprising the Community Foundation, the Medical College of Georgia Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the CSRA and board member at large Steven Kendrick. The Collaborative has partnerships with the city, Augusta University and Augusta National Golf Club.
“We want to put those residents at the table to have a voice in designing what they need and want for these neighborhoods.”
— Shell Berry, CEO of the Community Foundation for the CSRA
Augusta National’s commitment is huge, Berry said. The golf club has made a substantial financial investment, and the club’s leadership and staff are dedicated to giving their time and skills to the Hub and future projects.
“These are partnerships that can make decisions and move the ball forward with leaders grounded in the right value system dedicated to lifting up their neighbors,” Berry said. “We want to put those residents at the table to have a voice in designing what they need and want for these neighborhoods.”
The Collaborative isn’t stopping with the Hub buildings. Berry excitedly describes the future:
“The board will expand to incorporate more members of the community. Our vision is to cultivate a community where all the residents thrive. That’s a big goal! We will be diving into housing and early childhood education while continuing to be a collaborative leader in making sure residents in our downtown have the ability to stay in the downtown core and thrive.”
Photo courtesy of communityhubaugusta.org
Appears in the June/July 2022 issue of Augusta Magazine.