A group of children take part in a basketball camp at the Cairns Community Center in Mount Clemens.

A group of children take part in a basketball camp at the Cairns Community Center in Mount Clemens.

Photo provided by Advancing Macomb

Cairns Center reopens under new partnership

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published September 21, 2022


MOUNT CLEMENS — The Cairns Community Center in northeast Mount Clemens has reopened under a new operating partnership between Advancing Macomb and TCB Youth Mentoring.

Based on fundraising and programming, the partnership sees Advancing Macomb raising money for the Cairns Center’s operations while TCB handles the day-to-day activities of the center. Advancing Macomb will also provide “back-office support” for the center, according to a statement from the non-profit.

The partnership came about through Advancing Macomb’s work with the city of Mount Clemens.

“We’ve been partnering a lot with the City of Mount Clemens to try to find resources to fund projects and facilitate collaboration,” Diane Banks, executive director of Advancing Macomb, said. “In 2019, the Cairns Center closed because of a lack of funding and an operating partner.”

Already working on other recreation projects with the city, Advancing Macomb began to search for funding sources and an operating partner to get the center back in order.

Finding a partner for the center was not hard, especially given TCB’s place in the Mount Clemens community, its continuous presence at the center since 2018 and the organization’s prior work with Advancing Macomb on the “Sport Port” athletic equipment lending library.

“Because of the ‘Sport Port’ initiative and the successes that we had during COVID, TCB and Advancing Macomb partnered to lobby the city of Mount Clemens to reopen the center,” Thomas Barnes, founder and executive director of TCB Youth Mentoring, said.

But while TCB was all set to provide the community with activities, Advancing Macomb still had to find the funds to make the center work.

“We realized early on that, in order to reopen the center, we have to get creative (and) think about the resources that are already there locally and facilitate collaboration,” Banks said. “It really requires partnership between municipal governments and nonprofit organizations to have sustainability for a project like this.”

Funding for the Cairns Center was secured through several methods. The first was a multi-community funding package that included contributions from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Ascension Southeast Michigan, the city of Mount Clemens and Wilson Legacy Funds through the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

The second funding source came from Congress in the form of $480,000, with $240,000 going toward the center and the remainder being used on after-school recreation programs in Eastpointe.

With funding secured, the current focus for the Cairns Center is to set up and execute programs for the community. One such activity included the “Breaking Barriers to Play” initiative.

“We realized that we couldn’t only give a kid a basketball, but we needed to teach the kids how to play basketball,” Barnes said. “We just ended our 10-week free basketball camp for kids at the center. We fully expect to have about 20, maybe 25 kids show up, and we had almost 90 kids signed up for the camp.”

Other activities at the center will include a kickball program and a youth basketball league, which is expected to start in October. Outside of using the facility for recreational activities, TCB has helped put together community events such as a Juneteenth Celebration and Toys for Tots drives at the center.

“The power of recreation takes away the socioeconomics in kids,” Barnes said. “No kids come into this world with bias; everybody is equal … recreational sports is the leveling of the playing field for our youth.”

People interested in joining TCB’s programs at the Cairns Center can call (586) 630-0132.