Residents in Ward 5 are on a mission to bridge generational gaps while connecting the community with resources needed to be emotionally strong and financially stable.
The Men and Women of Central (MWC) is a resident-led non-profit that believes in a healthy, vibrant Central community. Founded in 2006, one of the organization’s goals is to increase the presence of positive adult role models in the lives of youth living in Central.
MWC President Charmaine Jordan-Payton is a lifelong resident of Ward 5.
“I was born and raised in Central,” Jordan-Payton said. “Ever since I could remember, there have always been individuals in the community supporting one another.”
“I just bought my house in 2019,” she added, “and I wanted to still be in Central. I care about this community. This is our family. This is us.”
Jordan-Payton joined MWC in 2011 at the invitation of founder Jerome Baker. He asked her to help expand the organization by recruiting women.
“Jerome had already been doing the work under the name Men of Central,” Jordan-Payton said. “It was a mentorship program that worked to build relationships between the younger and older generation of men. He wanted to start incorporating women to have that full family unit representation.”
MWC provides male and female mentors to youth at recreation centers, schools, and libraries. They also have provided meals, school supplies, sports camps, civics lessons, and even etiquette lessons to support Cental’s youth.
Connecting residents to unexpected opportunities
While the Men and Women of Central does not have a brick-and-mortar location, they are always looking to bring opportunities directly to residents. Jordan-Payton told Signal Cleveland how the group was able to help some people find jobs.
“The county was doing this initiative called the Surge project…looking for representation from underserved communities to fill open roles,” Jordan-Payton said. “We sat down with the county HR rep, and she sent over all the open positions they had.”
“We helped residents who were interested build and send out their resumes,” she continued. “We had about 30 people that ended up applying and landing interviews with the county, and four of them actually ended up getting hired. It probably would have been more than that, but many of them didn’t pass the civil service exam.”
That’s another reason the group stresses the importance of education, Jordan-Payton said.
Helping whatever way they can
Every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., MWC brings community members together for their empowerment series at CornUcopia Place. Speakers and topics vary by the week, and food is always provided. The series offers a safe space for residents to get to know one another and discuss community issues. Membership and events are all free of charge.
One of the issues that has been top of mind for residents is the increase in violence across the city. MWC recently received a grant from the Community Police Commission to expand services to help fight crime.
“We just help our community in whatever way we can,” Jordan-Payton said. “My favorite thing about living here is the people. Some people are crawling, some people are walking, some people are running. Our goal is to help people get to that next stage in their lives, so that they can have a better quality of life.”
If you are interested in joining MWC or volunteering, please visit www.mwoc.org