Upcoming fundraiser to support women’s daycare planned for Cass County

DOWAGIAC —  In between packing bags at Harding’s in downtown Dowagiac, resident Selina Ivens lists some of her many charitable endeavors.

“I work with the Harding’s here to give meals to seniors,” she said. “I used to volunteer at The Stepping Stone. … I’ve done African American history exhibits. Through the years, I’ve done a lot of different programs.”

Now, Ivens is on to her next endeavor, creating a women’s daycare for the women of Cass County.

The women’s center, to be called The Grace Center, will host its first fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. March 3, at the The Railway Cafe, 109 W. Railroad St., Dowagiac. For a $10 donation, people can pick up a dinner of barbecue rib tips, a four-piece chicken dinner or two catfish fillets. Each dinner will come with a choice of two sides, candied yams, mixed greens, baked mac and cheese and green beans. Each dinner will also come with a dessert. A $5 children’s meal will also be available, consisting of two beef franks, two sides and a dessert.

The money will go toward a business plan and planning the building for The Grace Center, donated by Abel Young and the Young family in Dowagiac. Ivens is hoping to make $3,000 toward opening the women’s daycare.

Opening The Grace Center, which will be similar to St. Margaret’s House in South Bend, has been a dream of Ivens’ for years, but has only started to become a reality in the last year. She hopes to be able to open the center before September.

“During the day, women will be able to come there and receive a breakfast and a lunch, and there will be workshops,” Ivens said of her plans for the center. “It will be all about empowering the women in Cass County to be of value. It’s not about being successful. It will be about being of value to yourself and to our county.”

Ivens believes that a women’s daycare will be beneficial to the community because it will strengthen families and community service in addition to helping local women.

“If the woman isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” Ivens said with a laugh. “It’s all about making you feel good about yourself, so you can feel good about the community. Then we can get together and do things in the community. If we [women] do it, ‘cause we are leaders and this is the year of the women, our children will follow.”

Ivens said that The Grace Center will allow her to do what she has always done, which is give back to the community, but now she will have a dedicated space for it.

“It’s all coming together to do it all in one place,” she said. “I have already have had women coming up to me saying that they would like to do counseling [at The Grace Center] or that they would like to do a workshop. I’m really excited about it. This is growing daily.”

To preorder a ticket to the fundraising dinner, contact Ivens at (269) 414-9208.

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