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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Brighton Center: 50 Years supporting NKY

The original Brighton Street Center (provided)
The Brighton Center was founded in 1966, in a small store front on a corner of Brighton Street in Newport. With only a small sign on the corner to let you know it was there, you could have been forgiven for missing it. Fifty years later things have changed, the center has grown exponentially, and there is no missing the difference it has made in our community in that time.

Brighton Street Center, 1960s (provided).

Originally named the Brighton Street Center, the center was founded by Reverend Bill Neuroth, to help an influx of recent immigrants to Northern Kentucky from rural Appalachia. Many of these people had no work and were struggling to survive.

In its earliest days the center mainly offered recreation programs for local children however in 1968 it began to offer emergency assistance programs and took on a young volunteer called Bob Brewster, who would become its first employee and, soon, its CEO for the next 43 years. Over that period, Bob moved the organization from a small community based agency to Northern Kentucky’s most comprehensive social service agency. Over the years, programs and services were added in response to the needs of individuals and families looking to create a better life.

Students at NKY Scholar House (provided). 
In 2011, Fort Thomas resident Tammy Weidinger took over as President and CEO, with 30 years of experience at the center already under her belt. Brighton Center now serves tens of thousands of people per year, from infants to senior citizens. Its programs aren’t just about helping people in a moment of need, they provide continuing, long-standing support systems and empower their clients the tools and resources they need to achieve self-sufficiency.

Tammy says:

“I’m inspired by the people we serve.  People who have faced incredible odds; whose lives are complicated and stressful; who nothing comes easy for; who open themselves to accept the help from others and go on to rebuild or reroute their lives.  We provide an opportunity, but they do the hard work of transforming their lives. I’m honored to celebrate Brighton Center’s past 50 years – and I look forward to seeing how this incredible organization moves forward and continues to lift up everyone it touches.”

Scholar House.
The best way to see the impact that the Brighton Center can make is to look at how they have changed lives. Tammy Liles first came in to contact with the center as a teenager. “If I wasn’t running away from home, I was getting kicked out. I had a lot of trouble and issues at home.” Tammy was emancipated by the state and put into a program at the Brighton Center called “Independent Living” which prepared her for life on her own.

She got an apartment and “checked out the world”. She fell in love, got married, had children. She got divorced but studied at NKU and Gateway Community College and received a diploma in graphic design. She worked in design but then things “spiraled downwards.”

“I couldn’t pay the bills, couldn’t put food on the table for the kids.”

She once again came to the Brighton Center for help. “They were able to get us food from the emergency shelter. They helped me get my gas and electricity back on and helped me pay my rent.” Tammy attended the CET- Center for Employment Training- through Brighton. She retrained and became a medical assistant, a job she clearly loves. “ I felt like (the patients) needed me. It made me feel good about myself.”

Tammy came upon a perfect explanation of how the Brighton Center had affected her life from possibly an unlikely source: her 20 year old son.

“He said, “The Brighton Center was your foundation, they built this little cement block to build your house on, and you continued building until you built your little house.””

She knows that without the support of Brighton Center her life could have been very different:

“From the very beginning until now, the Brighton Center being there, they’ve helped me build my foundation throughout my entire life. I’m just one of those many families who have been helped. They’re like family. They help you grow, give you the resources and guide you in the direction you need to go.”

Terri Bonar- Stewart, who has consulted with Brighton Center is similarly full of praise for the work of the center:

“The staff at Brighton Center offer hope and tools to make dreams come true. Importantly, they deliver them with the caring touch that means so much.  I am grateful for Brighton Center – knowing that our community members are well-served, and that because Brighton Center functions as the heart of our community they create a better Northern Kentucky community.”

Even into their fiftieth year the centre is not resting on its laurels, it is constantly evolving and finding new ways to serve the community. "The accomplishments of the last 50 years are a testament to years of collaboration, a strong Board of Directors, highly qualified staff, the tireless work of volunteers, the generosity of donors and the determination of our customers. Our legacy is not only in our roots ardour ability to evolve with changing times, but also in those who come to Brighton Center to create a better future. Hope Changes Everything!"

There are plenty of upcoming opportunities to support Brighton Center in what they do.

Satisfied customers at last year's toy sale (provided). 
Each year Brighton Center sponsors the Used Toy Sale, for young children ages 2 – 12 to “shop” for their friends and siblings.  Used toys & bikes that have been donated to Brighton Center are cleaned and sorted by volunteers throughout the months of November and December.  Toys are priced at 5, 10, and 25 cents so that children can have the experience of actually buying gifts for others.  No child is turned away if they are not able to pay. The sale will occur this Saturday, December 10th at 741 Central Avenue in Newport at 10 a.m.

Happy shoppers at last year's toy sale (provided). 
Brighton Center is also participating in this years Cincinnati Gives challenge, a fundraising competition hosted by Cincinnati Magazine where charities compete to raise the most money. The top teams win cash prizes from Cincinnati Magazine. The campaign launched on Giving Tuesday, November 29th and runs through Tuesday, December 27th.

To support Brighton Center in Cincinnati Gives visit their page:

For more information about the toy fair call Mary Decker at (859) 491-8303 ext. 2309

For more information about everything they do visit:

1 comment:

  1. What a blessing the Brighton Center, staff and volunteers are for all of Northern Kentucky. Thank you for all your programs to help others. Blessings.