Just over a year ago a new center opened in Cumming for adults with special needs. This week, the center welcomed the community to say thanks and show how far they’ve come.
On Thursday, Creative Enterprises Forsyth held its one year anniversary and showed off the newly finished second floor of the Pilgrim Mill Road facility.
Director Lisa Bennett said the center would have never made it this far without the help and support of the community.
“I can’t believe it,” Bennett said. “I’m so excited for these kids and their parents to have somewhere to go. The friendships that they make around here have been amazing. This is not about Lisa Bennett, what Lisa Bennett has done, it takes an army to get this kind of operation up and running and keep it going.
“If I didn’t have all the support that I have from the community, my friends, my family, we never would have done it.”
Clients performed a song and sign-language routine for those who came and showed a video thanking Bennett and telling her they loved her.
Like any good birthday, there was also cake and other refreshments.
The day was also to celebrate the completion of the center’s second floor at what was formerly the home city of Cumming’s parks and recreation department and Cumming United Methodist Church before that.
Bennett said the new space was needed after growing well beyond the six clients the program began with.
“Now that we have 29 clients, we need more classroom space because the Medicaid ration is 1:10, so one teacher to 10 clients, so this allows us to have additional classroom space,” she said. “We don’t really have small classroom space downstairs, so now that we have it upstairs, we can do small group classes up here and large group classes downstairs, if we need to.”
Creative Enterprises Forsyth is the second campus of the program, whose original center is in Lawrenceville.
The building was being considered for demolition before Bennett and the city of Cumming worked out a deal to lease the space at a very affordable cost.
“This used to be a Methodist church and then it became the park and rec building for the city of Cumming,” said Executive Director Leigh McIntosh. “Then when the city was going to build a new park, they were going to demolish this building and Lisa Bennett, who has been instrumental in getting this building for us and all of the furnishings and decorating done, went to the mayor and the city is letting us rent this building for $1 a year.”
Two people in particular were happy to see the building have a new life: The Rev. Bob Bowling and his wife, Robin. Bob Bowling said he led the church from January 1971 until June 1981, and Robin Bowling said she used to teach kindergarten in what is now one of Creative Enterprises’ classrooms.
“This was the first church that they let me serve myself,” Bob Bowling said, “and we’re just thrilled that the building didn’t meet up the wrecking ball and is still being used to nurture fine people and we’re just thrilled about it.”