Community center celebrates survival with expansion

Hawthorne Community Center breaks ground on $3.5 million expansion project (WISH Photo/Drew Blair)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – After years of fundraising, a small community center on the west side of Indianapolis has broken ground on a $3.5 million renovation and expansion project.

The executive director for Hawthorne Community Center said the organization has provided a safe haven and assistance for families in its neighborhood for 92 years.

Diane Arnold led a fundraising effort in the community and through social media to prevent the 36-year-old building from shutting down due to exposed wires, mold and a hail-damaged roof.

Donations were received from the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, The United Way, members of the public and more.

“We’ve just beat the bushes out there and tried to find all the money we could to make this happen,” Arnold said. “We’ve had donations that range from $25 up through over $1 million dollars.”

Arnold succeeded the directorship from her mother, Margaret Kenley, who at 90 years old said the improvements to a facility that has been a part of her entire life prove how vital such centers are to a city’s greater good.

“It means that the neighborhood concept is not death, that it’s alive and well in this community,” Kenley said. “It feels like something that has to go on.”

Donors, workers and children of families who participate in the center’s programs participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday.

Construction was scheduled to begin in August and finish a year later. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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