At OCWH, we are the stewards of a 20 plus year-old vision of community outreach. In 1995, St. Thomas Presbyterian Church formed a 501(c)(3) charity to construct a facility which would host various community programs. Originally named the West Houston Community Center, that building is now known as the Outreach Center of West Houston. While design plans called for a relatively simple, but high quality facility, fundraising shortfalls during construction meant compromises and cost-saving measures to ensure opening as scheduled in 2003. Once completed, the building provided space for four tenants: Alcoholics Anonymous, the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, Young Life and Interface Samaritan Counseling.
After several years of just making ends meet, the Center was blessed to begin partnering with some incredible non-profit organizations that helped stimulate growth in activity and programming. As a result, the use of the building began to increase dramatically year-by-year. While continuing to be anchored by those original tenants, the Center and its partners began offering new after-school and evening programs that focused on the needs of the lower income families and residents living in the neighboring apartments adjacent to the Center. The resulting increase in activity brought about a number of modifications to the facility, including the addition of a children’s library, multiple adult education classrooms and a new computer lab.
This rapid growth at the Center while very positive, also lead to faster wear and tear on the building and increased cost of maintenance. Confronted with accelerating deterioration and still somewhat limited funding, our amazing supporters answered the call and again increased their investment in our mission. As a result, we have completed several major maintenance overhauls and facility upgrades over the past few years. New commercial grade toilets have been installed in the bathroom and the AC system has been replaced. Most recently, the tattered carpet in the OCWH auditorium was replaced with stained concrete floors and the walls freshly painted. The next phase of upgrades will include waterproofing the exterior façade and making further upgrades to flooring. Additionally, our foyer will become a gallery to showcase art from local amateur and professional artists; a project that will both beautify the public spaces in the Center and support art-related community events.
It’s incredible how far OCWH has come since this vision of community outreach was set in motion some 20 years ago. The development of the Center and the community it supports are a testament to the contributions of our donors, sponsors, board members, volunteers, and neighbors. To all those that have supported our mission we say THANK YOU! We’re excited about the improvements we will make to the facility, and more importantly, our community, over the next 20 years!