The Center recently achieved another milestone: The new Daviess County nonprofit named its first director.

Erica Wade, who has worked 15 years in marketing, public relations and community outreach at Owensboro Health, will lead The Center starting Sept. 4.

Wade serves as vice chairwoman of Care for Children, a year-old "incubator for ideas" that started SPARKodc, Emerson Academy Resilience Network and The Center. She also serves on the Volunteer Owensboro board and is involved with several Daviess County Public Schools committees. As an OH community outreach specialist, she has taken an active role in local service organizations, including Healthy Horizons and Homeless Council of the Ohio Valley.

Earlier this summer, she helped secure a $100,000 matching grant for The Center from Kosair Charities of Louisville.

The Center was designed to spur partnerships between nonprofits and other agencies in an effort to maximize their effectiveness and provide a more user-friendly experience for people in need. The new nonprofit was conceived to serve as a centralized hub of services for families and children in Daviess County. The Center will provide information and one-stop assistance to residents who need help with food, housing, utilities, clothes, child care, transportation and other services.

"I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to work with so many amazing organizations to bring this project to life," Wade said. "I feel very blessed to be able to play a small role in pulling people together to create genuine collaboration to have a positive impact on our community."

Starting in college, working with nonprofits was one of Wade's passions. Her undergraduate degree includes a minor in nonprofit agency administration, and during her master's program, she worked graduate assistantships at community collaboratives that tried to accomplish goals similar to The Center's.

If all goes as expected, Wade hopes to open The Center sometime in October, so the first few weeks in her new role will prove busy.

In coming weeks, she expects to sign a lease with RiverValley Behavioral Health for space at the Cigar Factory Mall.

Also, Wade plans to meet with community stakeholders to define the logistics of how The Center will operate.

And, by Oct. 1, 2020, The Center must raise the local $100,000 match for the Kosair Charities donation. Earlier, Wade said that work had started.

At least 150 Daviess County children depend on out-of-home care. In addition to providing smoother access to services, The Center will provide neutral space for supervised visitations, which is a big need in the community.

The facility also will provide meeting and training space. For example, at some point in the near future, Wade hopes to offer Family Fridays, a series of parenting workshops.

The Center will serve as the official headquarters for SPARKodc, or Social Partners Advocating for a Resilient Kentucky — Owensboro-Daviess County. SPARKodc is the nation's first pilot program to curb adverse childhood experiences.

"The Center will focus on creating safe childhoods, successful students and healthy families," according to the project's brochure. "It will provide a supportive, collaborative environment for both those seeking services and those striving to provide the services to strengthen our community's families."

While The Center is a project that started under the Care for Children umbrella, The Center is working to earn its own nonprofit status and will be an independent agency at some point in the future.

For more information about The Center, Wade can be reached at

"I'm beyond excited to start this new challenge," she said. "I feel like this is the direction my experience has been leading me. I'm eager to create positive opportunities in my community."

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835,

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